Saturday, 12 January 2008

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses .....

Friday 11th January 2008

Well I've had all sorts of excuses for not climbing this week, my first week as a temporary full time climber. Excuses from partners, man flu, sore ankles, fitting bathrooms (2 different partners) etc etc. Then I've had weather excuses, hurricane force winds, trees down, power lines down etc etc ..

On Friday I ran out of excuses and headed out with Ian Dempster to the Coe. We really had no excuse for not getting anything done, or did we ?

We had a target route on the Buachaille which was quite low lying and not often in condition - perfect choice for something at the end of a week of fairly wild weather. Unfortunately the forecasted hard frost and 500 meter freezing level didn't happen. We had walked in as far as the water slide before deciding that it was sub-tropical and there was no way our chosen route would be frozen, so we about turned and hoofed it into Stob Coire nan Lochan.

Crest route was the new target route and we waded up deep snow to the start of the route. The first pitch was mine as Ian had done the route before and he thought i should lead the crux (Pitch 3 - perhaps trying to get over the roof that he and many others had dodged by the "variation"). I accepted the challenge and started up the first pitch. Being easier and ledgyer (is that a word?) it had collected a fair amount of snow. A huge amount of digging brought me up to to the harder final moves onto the belay ledge. I thought this looked good, some proper mixed climbing with torques and other trickery and was enjoying it right up to the point where i had to lock off on my left arm and dig out the foot and a half of snow that covered the ledge. My strength was beginning to fade but i managed to dig out a decent hook for the right and some turf to batter my left tool into. I hauled over onto the ledge, setup a belay and brought Ian up.

Ian took some gear for the next pitch, not all of it because he knew where he was going, and set off.

Ian Sets off on pitch 2

I thought about the wee roof and how i had found the first wee bit quite hard because off all the digging, i though stuff it, I'll give it ago anyway - should be steeper with less snow. I took some photos. Ian shouted down some scouse expletives about it being hard. I got cold, and did 20 arm raises each side. I took some more photos and took in the view that was coming in and out of the clouds.

I can see the pub from 'ere and Jimmy Savile's house .
Now then, now then, who's about to miss the belay on pitch 2 of Crest Route

I got even colder and did 20 leg raises on each side. I though stuff the roof on pitch 3 - I'll be taking the easy option and getting up the pitch as fast as possible. About 2 hours after setting off, Ian shouted down the news that he had Run out of gear and couldn't see the belay. Ian can't remember most routes he has been on so this came as no surprise.

We decided what to do. I had a look at the clock and the fact that it was now 3pm meant it was bail time. One hour till dark even once Ian had got a belay i still had to second the 2nd pitch and we both had to climb pitches 3 (crux) and 4. The decision to bail was easy and I lowered Ian off some in-situ gear and he stripped the pitch. Double 60meter ropes meant we were back on the ground by 3.30 and back at the van by 4.30, just as it was getting properly dark.

I can't remember the last time I bailed out of a Winter route, I also can't remember the last time I was benighted so in retrospect I think we made the right decision. Crest route will still be there, and so will I, albeit a bit earlier than we were this time.

With all this non climbing and working the West Stirlingshire International Bouldering & Drytooling Arena is coming along nicely though.....

Framing for the 35 and 10 Degree wall.

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