Bit windy out!
Monday 27th Jan 2014
Today was the first day of climbing on the BMC International winter meet, and I had the pleasure of being partnered with Ladislav from the Czech Republic. He had been to Scotland before but only in summer. A regular climber and also a climbing instructor back home; Ladislav has been a great partner. Our first day out on the hill has been a windy one to say the least, the road up from Glenmore was closed due to snow on the road but they allowed us to drive a little way up to the Corie na Ciste car park (this saves almost an hour of walking).
From here it’s a “quick” 45 minutes up hill to Creagan Cha-no, a small venue packed with great short pitches of varying grades. Our first route was Chimney Rib, short but great fun with some excellent moves about half way up, then a couple of awkward ledges to get on top of until you find yourself on top of this pillar about 10 metres from the top of the crag. Unfortunately the top was barred by a huge cornice which Ladislav spent a while trying to tunnel through to no avail. Eventually he made a long traverse to easier ground, the wind was so strong the ropes were blowing up the crag and clearing the top it was a bit like flying a kite, just with a climber on the end. After this we felt like we had been sand blasted so decided to head back to the minibus as did 5 other pairs that were climbing at the same venue. Back to the Glenmore lodge for tea and cake and a decision on what we had planned for tomorrow,
Lost in translation
Tuesday 28th Jan 2014
Today day was forecast to be great and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint, this could be the finest weather I have ever climbed in on Ben Nevis and with the chance to be the first of the day to climb Tower Ridge and put in fresh tracks, it was an opportunity not to be missed!
After reaching the CIC hut we started the short but very energy sapping approach to the base of our climb, the snow was just not firm enough to take our weight so every step we broke through make it hard work on the legs. Our approach was made via the normal West Gully, followed by the short chimney which breaks out left and puts you at the top of the great ridge. This is followed by some easier ground where we were able to move together all the way over to the Little Tower, a few short pitches and we were moving together again placing gear at every opportunity. But by now we were well into snow plastered rock so finding runners was very hard. We continued in this manner for a while longer battling ice filled cracks for the all important runner until we were barred by the Great Tower, from here you take the perilous Eastern Travers for about 25m then climb a chimney. Unfortunately Ladislav misinterpreted this and climbed the first gully he came to, a very hard and very steep gully which took a long time but was good fun. After this we made the very exciting traverse of Tower Gap, the knife edge ridge that links The Great Tower to the summit of Ben Nevis, a couple of easy pitches and Ladislav was a very happy man on the Summit of Ben Nevis. Unfortunately by now it was snowing and we were in a white out, so armed with our map and compasses we were ready for some tricky nave to get us off safely. This is probably the most classic route in the UK and a great one to tick off for any visiting climber.
Just a bit too windy out!
Wednesday 29th Jan
Very high winds today but we thought it might be worth a shot so we had a wander up into the northern Cories but to no avail. Too windy to climb anything on a buttress but all of the gullies were too full with soft snow, so we headed back to dry off and warm up.