Sunday, 4 April 2010

Drove up to Scotland on the 29th March with Adam, to do some late season ice on the Ben. Unfortunately it coincided with an extreme weather spell of snow, low temps and wind gusting to 80mph. Still, as we were spending a night at the CIC hut I was confident we'd get something done.
We met up with Duncan at the north face car park and after a quick pint, bedded down in the car, for a leisurely 6am start in the morning.
It was snowing when we got up, and after persuading Duncan it was worth the walk in we set off on what turned out to be an alright approach, as the ground was well frozen..
It was meant to be busy in the hut but due to the weather everyone was heading down, so we settled in with a coffee to wait and see what the weather was going to do.
After a while the wind seemed to die down a touch. It was all the encouragement we needed and within ten minutes we were ready to go, which was just as the lull ended, but we'd made up our minds and headed out.
 The route choice was Vanishing Gully as it didn't go to the summit and was a short walk from the hut.
It was a good choice and gave two really good pitches on good neve, split by a cave belay that kept us out of the wind and spindrift.
back at the hut a guide turned up with two clients. They'd just climbed Italian Left Hand Route and apart from us, must have been the only other people on the mountain.
After dinner we finished of the leftover wine and drank Adams whisky, before hitting the sack for a good nights sleep and another leisurely start in the morning.
The wind had dropped slightly the next day but we still wanted to avoid going on the plateau, so we picked a route on Observatory Buttress, as you can traverse off rightwards from the top of the difficulties towards Good Friday Climb.
Rubicon Wall was in good nick. I ran the first two pitches together and Duncan led through, with a great lead on thin ice, getting two runners in 40m. The top pitch was a lot thicker and I was able to place good screws all the way.
So although my plans of climbing multiple grade sixes and sevens on this trip didnt happen due to the weather, it still felt good to get something done considering the conditions and it at least meant we had one of the UK's best venues virtually to ourselves for two days.
Right, now all I need is a good alpine trip, then I can concentrate on a summer of sport climbing to get me fit for next winter!

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