Monday, 19 January 2009


I've just about managed to survive another weather beaten weekend here in the shadow of the Cairngorms.

Last Saturday Neil and I tried in vane to reach the top car park on Cairn Gorm but were repelled by roads closed due to wind damaged buildings. Go architects! Resistance training in 100mph gusts rapidly convinced us that getting into the corries, let alone climbing, was not on. Turns out the climbing wall was much warmer and friendlier anyway, so we went there.

This saturday I met the ever optomistic psyche machine Steve Fortune, a.k.a. Kiwi Steve, at the above mentioned car park (the roads were open, well done team). It was mild, blustery, and worst of all, raining. Given half a chance I would have sacked it and gone back to bed, but Steve being Steve, I dried my eyes, pulled up my hood and walked in to Coire an't Schneachda. As we gained height the rain became sleet and the sleet became snow, and before we knew it we were gearing up beneath a white Alladin's Buttress. On days when you're not sure if you're going to get a route in it's so easy to lose psyche on the walk in; the idea of doing battle starts to gets pushed to the back of your mind. It's a bit of a shock to the system when you eventually start up the first few metres of a route and realise "shit, this is actually happening, I'd better concentrate".

Kiwi Steve seconding round the big flake on pitch 1 of The Genie

And this is how I found myself, running the first two pitches of The Genie (V,7***) together, as wind-driven snow swirled across the crag and the clouds repeatedly opened and closed, teasing us with views of Loch Morlich and Aviemore beyond. All was going well, I'd managed to keep things together on the first tricky section and had somehow clawed my way up the cracked slab and round the big flake. Just a thin slabby left-facing corner barred my way to the belay above. After a bit of snow-clearance I found good hooks and torques up the crack in the corner, clipped the in-situ runners and teetered up the slab, mono-points balancing on small dishes, moving my tools up one by one. Eventually the crack widened, giving up rattly hooks and tenuous torques and my left crampon started to skitter and skate off the rounded lump I was trying to paste it to. Then, my foot was off, I was off balance and pop, out came the tool and down I went. Balls. Next go I got above my previous high point and was just trying to mantle the slab above the corner, one knee on, one foot trying to smear on not a lot, one tool trying to torque and one tool hooking a flat edge. 'Oh, for some neve' I thaught as once again, pop, I was hurtling down the slab again. Abashed, I decided to belay where I was and let Steve dispatch the crux. Which he did, with expected aplomb.

Steve on the thin crux section
Steve then got busy with the top corner pitch, and in no time I was following up and leading through the easy ground to the top of the buttress. Job done, and a bloody good one too.

Steve enjoying the top corner


Sarah Jones said...

Get on it! Nice one Marshallton! Less of the falling though if you please. Not long til you're sweating your way up thin virgin granitey slabs in the tropics! woop!

sam loveday said...

How did you find that move at the top of the main corner, out right, through the bulge and then back left. That's the bit I thought was quite unnerving and I managed to fall off?