Friday, 5 April 2013

Unfinished Gully

Yesterday Wally and I headed up to the Saddle to have a look at a line we spotted last weekend. It had looked continuous from floor to sky with good ice all the way so it seemed worth an early start and a bit of optimism.  The gully is the thinnest and steepest of three that split the wall to the right of the Whin Dyke.
When we arrived at the base, water was running behind the thin smear of ice where the gully exits the face so we walked up the right hand gully to where we could traverse in to see if we could set up a toprope.  No belays were forthcoming, so we entered the gully at the second pitch where the ice issues from a winding cleft. Here it was firmer and we followed a scrappy line with several small steps at about grade II.  A chockstone was easily passed on the left at the gully exit. The lower unclimbed section looked like it would be about grade III in fatter conditions. The climbing was fun, but aesthetically this was an ugly route with thin ice, frozen turf and just a little snow.

Gorgeous spring sunlight in Glen Sannox

Wally hunting for belays above the bottom section

Final chockstone
Still wintery in the hills!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Cir Mhor Ramble

I didn't see much evidence of ice forming from Goatfell on Saturday so we foolishly left this gear behind yesterday when we went to have a look at the back of Cir Mhor above Glen Sannox. This was an error, as Pan's Pipe, a rare grade III looked thin but doable. We decided to set off up Trap Dyke gully to the right to see if we could top rope the ice from above.  Belays are scarce on this part of the hill so in the end we headed up right from the first pitch of Trap Dyke on unprotected snow to gain the ramp above the wedge.  This slants back left to the shoulder on grade I-II ground.  In all we took 7 long pitches from the glen to the shoulder.  Gear was sparse, snow sugary, but turf and ice good. Descent off Cir Mhor to the saddle was grim under current snow conditions, but it was a great proper winter mountaineering ramble of a day.

Wintery Cir Mhor looming at the head of Glen Sannox

There was a short pitch of II to gain Coire na Uamh
Top of Pans Pipe from Trap Dyke

Heading out right to gain the ramp above the Wedge

Glorious views of Caisteal Abhail

On the ramp hunting for belays.

Looking across the saddle to Mullach Buidhe and Goatfell.