Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Project Update #1

Over the last few weeks I’ve been over the back of Cairngorm a few times to inspect the snow-melt progress on the Lower Slab. There’s still too much snow to get to work on the route, and it’s looking like Firestone is going to be the last snow-free line on the slab, but inspired by Dave Mac on Echo Wall this time last year I had a session with a shovel after work on Thursday and managed to make a tiny impression. In the four trips I’ve had over there so far I’ve noticed that the snow is disappearing fast, with a noticeable difference between Thursday’s digging session and Sunday’s view from The Needle on the Shelterstone, so it shouldn’t be too long before I can get on it. Fingers crossed for melting weather.

As for the housekeeping of working a route in a remote spot like this, I’m hoping to stash the kit I need nearby so I don’t have to carry everything back and forth every time I’m out. I’ll just set up a top-rope and work the moves on a shunt until I’m happy. I’ve sussed the gear required for the top-rope anchor, and will leave it in-situ for the summer (unless some cheeky bastard nicks it.) As for the climbing, I abbed down the line and think that if I can do the first half, I should be able to do the second, and I’m happy to confirm that the guidebook description is correct; holdless and protectionless. The more the snow recedes to reveal the bottom half, the more I wander how the hell Jules got up it, but I’m getting stoked about working at it and piecing together the puzzle.

The Lower Slab last June after I had just climbed Pluto, another of Jules' devious slabby delights. Firestone is out of shot on the right.

Finally, it’s a good time of year to go hunting for crag-swag. As the snow disappears the shiny things that people threw off the crags over the winter are ripe for discovery, and so far in my Firestone sessions I’ve not been disappointed. At present the count is: 1 screw-gate krab, 1 HMS krab, 1 snap-link krab, one skinny extender, 4 wires, 1 ice-screw, 1 belay device, 1 big sling and 1 pair of very nice and almost new Black Diamond gloves. So if you know anyone who dropped gear off Hells Lum this winter, unlucky! No, really, if you do, get in touch.

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