Monday, 23 March 2015

#13: Ledge Route

We all self-identify as something... have an idea of ourselves that is partly based on ego, and partly on the tribe in which we feel most comfortable.  I like to think of myself as someone who does a spot of winter climbing, (we even honeymooned in Rjukan) but this has in recent years been a proper fib.  For various reasons- ranging from recovery from an op, to lack of opportunity, to a bit of feartieness, I've not been out on a real route for what seems like ages. This winter is looking like it is going the same way, but I did manage to snatch a near perfect day on Ben Nevis last week, and in doing so met the criteria for number 13- to go winter climbing... sort of...!

With reports of stunning conditions in the classic gullies, Wally was keen to jump on to some steep ground, but I was very reticent, with no idea as to how it would feel to be that far out on a limb again, so he agreed to take a look at Ledge Route, a friendly and satisfyingly long II and the easiest of the Great Ridges. We were partly inspired by Rob Johnson's gorgeous drone footage taken the week before.  If you haven't seen it, it's a must-watch. 

I've only done Ledge Route once before- it was my first at that grade, and I recall we roped up and moved together on it, nervously, in driech weather, and popped out of an inversion to a heavenly world above. I remember it clearly because an RAF Tornado flew by,  and dipped it's wings has it passed. This time, the rope stayed in the bag, but we did gear up in case we encountered anything untoward.  No need- the snow was perfect, soft enough to kick in, but firm and reliable for axe placements. It felt easy, if exposed, more grade 1.5 than 2, and I'm reluctant to count it as a winter climb... these things are all relative I guess, and winter has many faces. No matter, it was a magic route, I was happy to be reminded of its quality- which is superb for the grade, and there were smiles all round at the top.

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