With nothing more to show than an easy winter solo of Red Gully in December I was itching to get stuck into something more substantial. So with good mixed conditions on the 9th Neil and I wandered in Corrie an Lochain in the Northern Cairngorms to see if I could finally get the chance to Get on “Savage Slit” a coveted grade V,6 route which I’d had my eye on for a while, but circumstances had always been against me getting on it. Well once again it proved to be the same with another team already on it, once again disappointed we settled for the consolation route of “Sidewinder III,4” which proved a bit testing in the lean conditions!
A wee diversion from climbing due to 3 days of work on a “winter skills Course” but buy the 17th we were back on the ropes and a new venue for me, Creagan Cha-No, again in the N Cairngorms. Short fun routes of 1 or 2 pitches with the main difficulty being navigating the crag from above (best to abb into the buttresses), with a topo pictured from below! It was another good day with plenty of folk out and a couple good routes with John that would be good practice for the days to come!
The next day John and I headed for Corrie an Lochain with and earlier start and in much harsher conditions, a strong wind and driving spindrift on the walk into the corrie. This time the harsher conditions seamed to have put a few people off and although there was a team already on the prize of Savage Slit, they were well up the first pitch. So we decided to wait and finally after 6 walk ins I got to start the route I’d waited so long for. We decided to do it in 3 pitches and let the other team get farther ahead out of the way, as well as thinking the extra moving around would keep us warmer on the windy day. Thankfully once on the climb itself we were for the most part out of the wind. The climb lived up to its 4 star rating, using just about every body, leg, arm and tool position to gain progress up the body swallowing crack. By the time I’d lead the main center pitch I was pretty tiered and was glad p3 was short and I was seconding. Thankfully its an easy abb off and with another team at the abb point, meant our ropes weren’t going to jam!
Those days must have taken a tole on me as the next day I finally succumbed to the flu bug I’d been staving off. After giving myself a few day of rest it was time to get back out and switch to the west coast. Suzana and I have climbed before in the poor winter of 16/17 and always seamed to have a longer day than planned. This climb was to prove no different. A poor overly ambitious choice of climb, in poor conditions and a stubbornness not to back off lead to a full 16hrs on the hill, with the last 200m of ascent and descent back off the mountain in the dark. “Deep Cut Chimney IV,4 on Stob Coire nam Beith is not a route to do in lean conditions. That night and the next days there was another catastrophic warming, which once again saw most of the snow cover striped off and washed out to sea, so in the end we were lucky to get something in!
Another 5 days of winter skills work I had a couple of admin days before the annual NMC weekend meet at the Lagangarbh climbing hut at the foot of the Buachaille, Glencoe. Saturday the 2nd of February was a glorious day to be out in the mountains and with the Buachaille on the Doorstep Emma and I opted for the ever popular “Curved ridge II/II” It was a very social day on the ridge which wasn’t surprising given the conditions of powder over loose rock, those loose rocks buried under a cover of snow that finally made me admit my ankle needed time off, still a great day to be out!
Lets see what February brings!