Sunday, 1 April 2012

Gardyloo (oooooooh) Gully

I'm playing catch up a bit with this post and probably the next couple as I've not been in to update as much as I would like. On Monday last we were heading in to Ben Nevis on a rumour that there may still be some wintry stuff to be found high up. What followed was a classic Ben spring day, with plenty of helpings of fun (good), falling ice (bad), and a lovely late finish in daylight (just).

Looking up in to Coire na Ciste from the CIC hut. Already roasting hot. 

We headed up in to Observatory Gully for a look at Gardyloo.  There were a few parties about, including teams on Tower Scoop which looked really thin, and lots of activity on the great ridges.

Observatory Gully, leading to Gardyloo on the left, and Tower Gully on the right.  The thin dribble of ice down and right of Tower Gully is tower scoop.

The initial pitches of Gardyloo were straightforward grade 1 on good snow. However, two pitches in, a party abseiled in to the top of the gully above us, and proceded to lead some necky and fragile grade V ice on the left wall.  It made entertaining and impressive viewing, which was a good thing, as it pinned us down for some time, hiding from the large lumps that were hurtling in to the gully regularly.  In the end we had to wait for them to finish as it was nuts to proceed into the shooting alley while they were on it.No matter, it was a gorgeous day, with plenty of daylight, and the best climbing for us was still to come. 

Gardyloo chockstone tunnel pitch. 

The penultimate pitch of Gardyloo has a big chockstone, which often has an icy tunnel behind it, which is how we found it.  It was the strangest ice climbing I have ever done, and I found the bridging both funny and hard work, as I tried not to get flushed down the U Bend. 

Yep, I'm giggling. 

From the tunnel, it wasn't far to the top, and a mellow bask in warm sunshine surrounded by walkers in shorts and T shirts.  From there, we prolonged the day a bit by heading back down over the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, in a leisurely fashion, and lingered to enjoy a magnificent sunset  just before we dropped below the treeline above the North Face Carpark. 

The CMD Arete was bare of snow. 

A magic end to a magic day.

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