Wednesday, 12 September 2007

A Weekend of Classic Ridges

Although the weather hasn't been great in the Highlands since coming back from Nova Scotia I decided to have a crack at finding dry mountain rock this weekend. Jones came up on the train from the burg on Friday arvo and not long after work that evening we were heading East in the trusty (?) Fiat Bravo. That scans nicely.

I had thought the of some easy big things in the North West, namely East or Central Buttress on Beinn Eighe and A'Cioch Nose. Jones is still a rookie really so its pointless aiming for harder stuff so big routes in big places make for the excitement. In the end the foreccast was giving the North West the shittest weather we headed towards the Cairngorms where fairer things were promised on the Monk-cast.

That night was amazingly clear, with no moon and millions upon millions of stars shining down on Glen Muick. Bootiful.

Look, its Eagle Ridge!

Eagle Ridge, the uber classic 4-star Severe, was on the cards so we scampered in to the corrie, only to find two teams starting the route already. Bum. They were going very, very slowly and it was only after we realised we were'nt at the true start that we understood why these guys were having such problems on a Severe. Only two hours lost! In fact we ended up overtaking the second team.
Jones, the Ridge and the Loch.

Its a great route, with maintained interest and some good exposure. The 'sentry box' pitch is particularly splendid, to use guide book parlance, with lots of air beneath you and huuuuuuge holds. Jones had a few 'moments' when the exposure was felt but pressed on like a trooper and was really glad that she had.

Joes was happy to get the route done.
The only problem is that now I've blown my winter on-sight. Damn. I've only climbed a couple of grade VIs in winter but I must say this one looks like a pretty full-on day. Respec.

The 'Sunday' route of choice took us to the Norries, and a very windy and cloudy Coire an't Schneachda. I had though of Fingers Ridge Direct, the VS version of the classic Diff, but the aerial moisture content, plus the 'oh shit I'm going to get hot-aches as soon as I stop climbing' conditions put payed to that. So we went for the Diff, and had a jolly good time. I've done it in winter, and its a stonker, so it was cool to see what you're actually torqueing and hooking.

Looking down pitch 3 of Fingers Ridge, its a beaut.

To add interest, the last two pitches were fully in the clouds and what might be known as 'pissing'. I'll admit I decided to don rock shoes for the short wall after the fingers so as not to slip off.

Then it was time for a brew in the ski-centres wonderfully named Cas Bar and a hitting of the road. By the time we were back in the West it was shitting it down and we both felt tres smug that we got a route done in the hills.

A brilliant weekend I must admit.

Jones topping out. Check out that view.....
So far this week I've done a bit of running and been down the Glen a couple of times. In fact I was down there today and was getting a kicking by everything I tried. The mantle on the top of A Dram for Donald on the Cameron Stone is still spitting me off. I have, however, decided to make the lip traverse of the Heather Hat, Midnight in a Perfect World my project, in order to get strong. Its V5, and I will have climbed it before my contract with Upland Ecology runs out on the 24th December 2007. you read it here first.

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