Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Grim Day

Sunday 20th January 2008

Andy Clark, Stuart McFarlane & Myself had a fairly grim day on the Ben on Sunday. We had decided on Stringfellow (VI,6) which probably wasn’t the best choice given that we were climbing as a 3 with ruckies on and it’s quite a long route. We made really fast time into the CIC, helped by the new path. We were also up to the route fairly quickly and managed to find it OK in the gloom. Stuart led the first pitch which looked like a fairly easy gully. Andy and I waited and waited – for about 2 hours ! until Stuart was safe.

Andy about an hour into the belay, still looking warm.

We both seconded the pitch together and it became apparent why the Postie had taken so long. Horrible slabby rock devoid of cracks, or turf or ice and not much in the way of protection.

The first (and only!) pitch

At the belay the next pitch looked harder but following a good crack - a very nice looking pitch. The weather had really started to crap out by this point. It was now 1pm and we still had 5 pitches of grade VI climbing and another couple of pitches of III up tower ridge. Our collective wisdom said “bail” or finish in the dark. We didn’t mind finishing up tower ridge in the dark but the crux is on pitch 4 and we didn’t even know if we would get to that pitch. We bailed and got soaked on the walk out – it was chucking it down with rain from the CIC hut down. On the way down the road we pondered on whether the first pitch should really have ice in it – we reckoned it probably should !

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