Akita

Andy Nisbet leading the straightforward first pitch of Akita (VI,7) on Lurcher’s Crag. The crux overlaps lie above. (Photo Steve Perry)

Andy Nisbet leading the straightforward first pitch of Akita (VI,7) on Lurcher’s Crag. The crux overlaps lie above. (Photo Steve Perry)

“The Akita is an independent and dominant breed (of dog), commonly aloof with strangers, so it’s ideal for a route name on Lurchers’ Crag where Steve and I don’t encourage strangers,” Andy Nisbet explained with tongue firmly in cheek. “Except for Central Gully, which has been in brilliant nick the past week, and everyone is encouraged to enjoy it. On February 22, we of course had another line in mind.

Earlier in the winter four of us climbed a line called Ultramontane (IV,5), barely frozen low down. We did look at a steeper line to the right but thank goodness we didn’t try it and waited for proper cold weather to freeze the turf. We approached as usual from the ski car park via South Gully and at the crag base met teams who had come through the Chalamain Gap. The times we’d taken seemed to be roughly equal but who knows. We could direct them to Central Gully, the gullies not showing up well from below, as we’d just walked past its base.

Our line had an icy start, which looked fairly easy, so I was happy to lead it and leave the overlaps above for Steve. Conned as usual by the Lurchers’ illusion and seeing plenty of turf, he was happy. I led the first pitch quickly and the second pitch still didn’t look hard. But what we hadn’t realised is that most of the apparent turf was straggly heather on top of smooth rock. Even when Steve slowed down at the very first groove and struggled up it with feet slipping, I was wondering if he wasn’t on good form. Until I got on it myself that is. It was very thin with only one good turf placement and a direct fall on to the belay (which was good enough). He managed to place a hook in a blind crack and this was enough to persuade him up to what was quickly looking like an unlikely overlap. The hook wasn’t going to hold a fall from there but he dug around and found a horizontal crack and good peg where the slab joined the overlap (Thank Goodness!)

The only turf which would take an axe above the overlap was too far right, and there was nothing for the feet over there, so it was a case of keeping the body in an out of balance position while gaining height. This got increasingly strenuous until he had to commit to the axe and pull through. This worked but it was far from over, as the next piece of usable turf was a long reach and hidden under snow and detached heather. Again there needed to be commitment to a single piece of turf of unknown attachment to the rock, and further standing around on one leg searching for something solid. The next ten feet were pretty committing until he finally got a runner. The pitch slowly eased in angle and he kindly stopped shortly before easier ground.

I led a pitch with only a short tricky start and then we decided to solo for a while and gain some time. We wanted a line between the existing routes either side, but not needing a rope, and were happy that a natural one followed, only joining Ultramontane for its final slab. Steve took a direct line up this and got his foot stuck in a wide crack. After a long struggle, which would have been amusing if we hadn’t been several hundred feet up without a rope, he had to step out of his crampon and finish the pitch with only one.

The weather was nice on top so it was a leisurely walk back to the car park. We graded it VI,7 without being sure whether it was Tech 6 or 7. Certainly the turf being at its best was essential. Anyone trying it unfrozen will soon fall off and the route might become impossible.”

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Under the Western Sea

The upper section of the 400m-high Spider Buttress on Ladhar Bheinn in the Western Highlands. The much sought after Tir na Og (V,5) takes the central line of ice streaks and Face Route (IV,4) follows the line of grooves just left of the sunlit West Pillar. Tir na h-aoise (VI,6) climbs the barrel-shaped wall right of Tir na Og, starting up the tapering right-slanting gully. (Photo Simon Richardson)

The upper section of Spider Buttress on Ladhar Bheinn in the Western Highlands. Tir na Og (V,5) takes the central line of ice streaks and Face Route (IV,4) follows the crescent-shaped line of grooves just left of the sunlit West Pillar. Tir na h-aoise (VI,6) climbs the barrel-shaped wall between these two routes, starting up the tapering right-slanting gully that begins just right of the icefall of Tir na Og. (Photo Simon Richardson)

Without doubt, the 400m-high Spider Buttress on Ladhar Beinn in Knoydart is one of Scotland’s greatest winter cliffs. It’s central snowfield bears an uncanny resemblance to the Spider on the north face of The Eiger, and the cliff is sometimes described as Scotland’s Eigerwand. It’s remote situation, deep in the heart of Knoydart only adds to its aura.

The buttress was first explored in the late 1970s. Andy Nisbet and Paul Tipton added the superb looking Face Route (IV,4) in February 1978, which takes the most obvious line of weakness up grooves on the right side. Two weeks later, Con Higgins and A.Foster met the full challenge of the wall by climbing the line of ice straight up its centre. Tir na Og (V,5) takes a superlative line and is one of the most coveted winter routes in the North-West Highlands. Unfortunately its remote situation and proximity to the sea means it is rarely in condition and has seen only a handful of repeats.

Roger Everett and I were lucky enough to make an ascent of Tir na Og in February 1986, and ever since, I have dreamed of returning to the face. I was particularly attracted by the challenge of the steep barrel-shaped wall between Tir na Og and Face Route which has been described (rather enthusiastically perhaps) as ‘a last great problem’.

Roger Webb and I were planning a route in the North-West Higlands last week but deep powder snow on the approaches made us rethink. Ladhar Beinn lies further south, and is remote and difficult to get to, but at least most of the approach is at sea level. We left the car at 7pm on February 24 and returned at 3am two days later after a 32-hour return trip (which included a four hour kip in Barrisdale bothy).

Starting a big route when you’re more than seven hours away from the road feels committing, and in this case we weren’t helped by less than ideal conditions. The snow was not as consolidated as we’d hoped, the turf was aerated, and the attractive ice streaks running down the barrel-shaped wall turned out to be loose snow lying on rock. We did have a trump card though in the form of a photograph I had taken one autumn from the western side of the corrie that showed the wall was cut by a hidden diagonal slot. We were confident that once we reached that, the route would go.

The crunch came on the fourth pitch where a narrow sinuous chimney led up from the Spider. Logic dictated the chimney was the way but the side walls were blank and instinct told us that we’d be better off linking the blobs of turf on its right wall. A bold and absorbing 60m pitch led to the foot of the diagonal slot which was helpfully iced, and we knew then that the route was in the bag. Three pitches later, we arrived on the summit ridge just as it was getting dark.

I’d love to be able to report that Tir na Og was in good condition, but whilst it looked attractively icy from below, the ice was thin and unattached. I’d also forgotten about the rather unhelpful Ladhar Beinn mica schist. In seven pitches we just placed one nut and one cam for protection. All the other gear was bulldogs in frozen turf.

Unfortunately a visit to the mythical land of Tir na Og is far too late for Roger and I to preserve our youth, so Roger suggested we name our route its antithesis  – Tir na h-aoise (VI,6) – The Land of Age Sunken Beneath the Western Sea

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A Good Week

Uisdean Hawthorn climbing the first crux pitch of Spectacula (VI,6) on the North Face of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh during the first ascent. The line to the right is Spirulina (V,5) and Icicle Factory (VI,6) is on the far right of the picture. (Photo Adam Russell)

Uisdean Hawthorn climbing the first pitch of Spectacula (VI,6) on the North Face of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh during the first ascent. The line to the right is Spirulina (V,5) and Icicle Factory (VI,6) is on the far right of the picture. (Photo Adam Russell)

Uisdean Hawthorn has had an excellent run of routes in recent days. On February 23 he climbed Tango in the Night (VI,7) on Sgorr Ruadh with Ben Silvestre, and the following day they climbed The Godfather (VIII,8) on Beinn Bhan. On February 26 he linked up with Guy Robertson and Adam Russell for a new route on Sgurr MhicCoinnich and another in Corrie Lagan. Uisdean and Adam then teamed up with Dougie Russell on Saturday February 27 and visited the Amphitheatre on the North Face of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh.

“We were all keen to try Icicle Factory,” Uisdean explained. “Both Dad and Iain Small had mentioned it to me in the last few weeks. We were very surprised to see head torches already at the base of the route as we started the walk in at 6.30am. However, this wasn’t a problem and instead of following the early birds [James Sutton, Ben Wear and John Smith] up Icicle Factory [the second ascent], we just climbed a big obvious icefall on the left wall.

It was quite steep for 30m where a ledge provides a rest but no belay. A few steep pulls on a hanging icicle allowed me to pull over the overlap and continue on some easier angled ice to a belay. Adam did a 70m pitch with some steep ice steps to join the buttress and easy ground above. The high quality of the route and the novelty of unexpectedly finding an unclimbed fat bit of ice was pretty cool. The name Spectacula (VI,6) was the original Roman name for an amphitheatre. We decided to abseil the route which allowed us to climb Icicle Factory straight after.

In the guidebook Icicle Factory is given old school Grade V with no technical grade [the first ascent was made by Mick Fowler and Victor Saunders in March 1986], but personal experience has taught me this means it’s probably nails and at least Grade VII! I was surprised after three perfect pitches for it to have been very straightforward and probably V/VI,6 on the Day. Conditions really were exceptional with first time placements for the whole route. We topped out this time and traversed a section of the ridge watching the sunset before heading back down.

On Sunday (February 28), old school friend Lea MacLeod and I made the first ascent of Spirulina (V,5). Lea is very fit from trail running but his only other climbing experience was seconding Vulcan Wall this summer.  I’d spotted this steep ice streak, which lies to the left of Icicle Factory, the day before. Conditions were still perfect and the climbing superb. It would be a three star classic even if it was situated on Ben Nevis. Not a bad first experience of winter climbing for Lea. After we got back down to the snow line, we were sorting gear and Lea produced two spirulina and banana smoothies he had made. I hadn’t heard of spirulina before, it’s an algae in powder form that you just add water too. Lea hadn’t considered that it would freeze and we had an entertaining time trying to get it out of the flask it was in.

All in all it was a pretty good week. I could have easily spent another three days climbing new routes in the Amphitheatre alone if the weather had held, as there was ice all over the place.“

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Skye Raiders – Part 1

Sandy Alan on the first ascent of The Inaccessible Icefall (IV,4) situated on the north-east flank of the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye. This is one of a number of good ice routes added to the Cuillin in recent days. (Photo Andy Nisbet)

Andy Nisbet on the first ascent of The Inaccessible Icefall (IV,4) situated on the north-east flank of the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye. This is one of a number of good ice routes added to the Cuillin in recent days. (Photo Sandy Allan)

“For many years in the 1990s whilst taking clients up the Inaccessible Pinnacle, I always wondered what was down the Coruisg side,” Andy Nisbet writes. “The Brittle side has hoards wandering up and down, but no one goes to the Coruisg side where a convex scree slope leads down to unseen crag. Over the subsequent years, I tried hard to see what was down there but the curve of the Cuillin ridge was always wrong for getting even a peek.

Last week, Sandy Allan was free for a couple of days with the limitation that he was giving a talk in Portree on the Wednesday evening (February 24). So realistically we would have to climb in Skye. Mike Lates always lobbies hard to bring Skye to everyone’s attention, and as his reports reached a crescendo of enthusiasm, a normally sceptical Andy decided there might be some truth in them. So I took Sandy up on his offer and we arrived in Skye with two cars so we could sleep in them and get an early start, needing to be down shortly after lunch for Sandy to set up his talk. There was a distant picture in the new Skye guidebook which indicated the face was not unreasonably steep, so we ought to be down in time.

The guidebook indicated you could approach either by scrambling down under An Stac or from Bealach Coire na Banachdich. I assumed the former might need some abseiling so we took the longer but safer second option. Also, I had been that way before for O’Brian and Julian’s Route, so I knew it worked. And we would be using Sandy’s new twin 6.8mm(!) ropes, so sacks would be light. Not that they felt it. As we descended from the col under the face, it became obvious that Mike had been telling the truth and there really was a lot of ice.

As we traversed under the main face, our line suddenly appeared as a wide swathe of thick ice. There are days when you know you’ve struck lucky. It even looked straightforward and we set off soloing. But of course ice is usually steeper than it looks so soon the ropes came out; it would have been a shame not to try out the new thin ropes. I led out a full rope length of ice with the top quite steep. It felt like 60m but apparently the ropes were only 50s. After a snow terrace, another full rope length of ice led to upper slopes of solid neve and we soloed up to the sunshine beside the In Pinn.

The Inaccessible Icefall just scraped into IV,4 and despite the urgency to get down, we sat in the sun, had an early lunch and took photos of tomorrow’s objective. I had half planned to head home that evening but no way now. Part 2 needed to follow.”

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Moon Ice Jazz – Second Ascent

Forrest Templeton on the crux pitch of Moon Ice Jazz (VI,7) in Glen Clova’s Winter Corrie. The route is adjacent to Sun Rock Blues and was first climbed by Henning Wackerhage and Robbie Miller in January 2010. (Photo Brian Duthie)

Forrest Templeton on the crux pitch of Moon Ice Jazz (VI,7) in Glen Clova’s Winter Corrie. The route is adjacent to Sun Rock Blues and was first climbed by Henning Wackerhage, Adam Henly and Robbie Miller in January 2010. (Photo Brian Duthie)

On February 21, Brian Duthie and Forrest Templeton visited Winter Corrie in Glen Clova and made the second ascent of Moon Ice Jazz (VI,7).

“The forecast for Sunday suggested frozen terrain down to 400m,” Brian explained.  “So Forrest and I decided to go into Winter Corrie and see if Moon Ice Jazz was in condition. From the corrie floor it looked like it was in decent nick so we decided to give it a go – my first winter route of the season!

I know that Henning has been keen for someone to repeat his line and confirm the grade. As he describes in his blog the crux pitch is steeper than it looks, gear hard won and difficult to place. On the day we thought it was worth VI, 6.”

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White Mamba

Roger Webb approaching Cnapan Nathraichean on Lochnagar. White Mamba (V,4) takes the narrow right-slanting groove directly above Roger ‘s head and is based on the summer line of Green Mamba that was first climbed by Dougie Dinwoodie and Adhair McIvor in June 1976. (Photo Simon Richardson)

Roger Webb approaching Cnapan Nathraichean on Lochnagar. White Mamba (V,4) takes the narrow right-slanting groove directly above Roger ‘s head and is based on the summer line of Green Mamba that was first climbed by Dougie Dinwoodie and Adhair McIvor in June 1976. (Photo Simon Richardson)

I’m terrified of snakes so Cnapan Nathraichean (the knoll of the adders) on the north side of Lochnagar has never been one of my favourite crags. One time when I was below the cliff in summer a large female slithered past me on top of the knee-deep heather, and I spent a nervous day with my eyes peeled in case I encountered another.

I was nervous too when Roger Webb and I approached the cliff on Thursday February 18. A better than average avalanche forecast had drawn us to the Southern Cairngorms, and I had a hunch that the brief thaw on Tuesday night would have consolidated snow and ice in the summer route Green Mamba. Without doubt this 110m-long smooth groove is the line of the crag, but just powder-covered rock would mean game over. Fresh snow covered the crag and we were kept guessing until we were almost at the start of the groove when tell-tale patches of grey ice became visible under the white coating.

We climbed the route in three long pitches. There was ice (albeit very thin) where it mattered, and the sequence of bulges on the second pitch were protected by cams and wires in the cracked right wall of the groove, but even so it was a spooky climb to lead. Roger observed that it was a route where the “numbers were the wrong way around” and we had no hesitation in grading it V,4. We took a more direct start to the summer line so decided to call our route White Mamba. Given the pristine wintry conditions of the day, we really didn’t have much choice!

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Major New Route on Beinn Bhan

Coire nam Fhamair on Beinn Bhan in Applecross. The lines of Nam Famhairean (VII,7) –red, Der Riesenwand (VII,6) – pink, and Divine Retribution (VII,6) – green are marked. (Photo/Topo Simon Yearsley)

The Der Riesenwand wall on Coire nam Fhamair on Beinn Bhan in Applecross. The lines of Nam Famhairean (VII,7) –red, Der Riesenwand (VII,6) – pink, and Divine Retribution (VII,6) – green are marked. (Photo/Topo Simon Yearsley)

Neil Silver, Malcolm Bass and Simon Yearsley added a major new route to Beinn Bhan on February 13 – the eight-pitch Nam Famhairean (VII,7) in Coire nam Fhamair. Neil takes up the story:

“A big route on a big cliff!  That’s what went through my mind when Malcolm, Simon and I chatted about targets for a North West trip as a plan B for our planned alpine trip, postponed due to too much snow.

The plan was clear a new line up the unclimbed ground on the right hand side of the wall of which Der Riesenwand takes the left hand side. We had identified that a thin rightward rising traverse half wall up the face would probably be the key to gaining the upper part of the wall.

The forecast was good and the prep work done but would the traverse go and what would the ground be like after that? We had to get on it to find out!

The initial barrier wall is an early reminder of the steepness of the cliff and we had planned an more straight-forward approach bypassing the steep initial wall, but the thin traverse in from Gully of the Gods meant we were roped-up earlier than we expected.

Much steepness loomed above, but the planning was working as Malcolm gained a rising weakness and made good progress to the ‘hairpin’ of Der Riesenwand.

The crucial traverse out right from Der Riesenwand that we hoped would give entry to the upper right hand wall had been hard to read from the ground . From different angles it had given different impressions of its size and substance.  On arrival at its start we found the narrow gangway to show promise, but a very thin crux section visible from the belay was sure to be the key.

We paused at the belay for a momentary check around the team knowing that the next step onto the upper wall would be committing us to whatever we found round the corner and out of sight.

Malcolm took up the baton and headed off speculatively from this relative safety. The crux section was complex and time-consuming, concealing its secrets until fully committed.  Malcolm prepared patiently; gear in, gloves off, and then, ice-tool in teeth,  he disappeared from sight. A silence fell with tools largely useless on this section, but crucial for its completion. Finally the call came back – ‘It’s done. Looks good… as far as I can see!’

Malcolm brought us across the traverse and I led off upwards steeply on ice to a small bay with tempting options in the darkness to left and right. Directly up looked hard but good, and after a small questioning of myself I decided straight up was the way with a fine crack tempting me upwards and allowing me to dismiss the other unseen options.

This long pitch, and the next, gave excellent climbing on ice and frozen turf. The ground was steep and intimidating, but in the dark you lose yourself in the climb, making progress ever upwards with the prospect of success creeping into your mind. I was reminded of C.Joybell C. – ‘Remember when you think you are seeing giants, they may not be giants at all; perhaps it is you who is the dwarf.’

Almost too soon we were on easy ground with the cornice in view and a moonlit Beinn Bhan summit awaiting our celebrations.”

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Stob a’Ghlais Choire – Central Buttress

Simon Richardson climbing the central buttress of Stob a’Ghlas Choire at the eastern end of Glen Coe. The crest of this buttress led directly to the summit and provided an excellent VI,6 mixed climb. (Photo Roger Everett)

Simon Richardson entering the hidden slot on the first pitch of the central buttress of Stob a’Ghlais Choire at the eastern end of Glen Coe. The crest of the buttress then led directly to the summit and provided an excellent VI,6 mixed climb. (Photo Roger Everett)

After enjoying some excellent summer scrambling on the north face of Sron na Creise one autumn day, I set off for the round of the three Black Mount Munros. Looking back along the summit ridge of Creise I was struck by a rather shapely crag on the south-east side of Stob a’Ghlais Choire, and in particular its central buttress that looked a magnificent winter objective.

Hamish MacRobert’s 1952 Central Highlands Area Guide reveals that Dan Piggott added a rock climb finishing directly on the summit, but other than that there is no record of any climbing on the cliff. It has been lurking on my to do winter list for some time now, and it seemed the perfect option for Roger Everett and I to try on February 15.

Although the crag is visible from the Glen Coe ski area, it is rather awkward to reach. The shortest approach is from Glen Etive over Sron na Creise, but we were wary of descending steep slopes to the foot of the crag and unsure about the initial river crossing. Instead we chose to approach from the ski area, and make a long traverse around the head of Cam Ghleann to reach the corrie below the cliff. Our approach, in sometimes-awkward conditions underfoot, took three hours, but I’m sure there are faster ways.

Our toil was rewarded by a magnificent climb up the crest of the buttress. We were worried about the first tier, that looked very blank and steep, but fortunately there was a hidden slot to its right, which provided a reasonable (albeit sometimes bold) way through.

Above, a succession of steep chimneys and grooves, interspersed with comfortable belay ledges, led all the way to the summit cairn where we basked in the afternoon sunshine before heading back home over the summits of Creise and Meall a’Bhuiridh.

The buttress is about 100m high and we climbed it in four pitches at a grade of VI,6. Given its visibility it is difficult to believe that nobody has ventured on to this little gem before, so if you know of a prior ascent please get in touch.

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The Borrowdale Conundrum

Roger Everett on the first ascent of The Borrowdale Conundrum on Ben Starav (III,4). This is one of two new routes added to this fine mountain at the head of Loch Etive. (Photo Simon Richardson)

Roger Everett on the first ascent of The Borrowdale Conundrum (III,4) on Ben Starav. This is one of two new routes added to this fine mountain at the head of Loch Etive. (Photo Simon Richardson)

Several years ago Roger Everett suggested there might be some winter climbing on a buttress on the North Ridge of Ben Starav, and in November 2011 we went to have a look. Winter had yet to arrive that year, so after looking at the buttress from below and agreeing that we should return some day, we climbed over the summit and made a summer ascent of Hidden Ridge, the Graham Little and Dave Saddler Grade IV that is becoming something of a mini classic.

On February 14, nearly five years after our reconnaissance, Roger and I finally made it back to Starav. The approach through crusty snow over deep heather took nearly four hours, but we were rewarded with two lines up diverging grooves up the front face of the buttress – The Borrowdale Conundrum (III,4) and The Starav Enigma (V,6).

The route names need a little explanation. During the walk in Roger was reconciling the length of our approach to the likely length of climb, and recalled a comment in the introduction to a recent Borrowdale guidebook that stated that it was becoming unsustainable to record the large number of short and remote climbs that had been developed in the area.

Both our routes were barely more than 60m long and arguably could be classed as ‘Borrowdale conundrums’. But there again, the climbing was good and Ben Starav is a beautiful place, and for us, this more than compensated for any lack of stature – hence The Starav Enigma.

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Remote and Snowy

Andy Nisbet on the first ascent of Poseidon (III,5) on the east side of A’Chralaig in the Western Highlands. This rarely visited cliff lies above Lochan na Cralaig to the north of Loch Cluanie. (Photo Steve Perry)

Andy Nisbet on the first ascent of Poseidon (III,5) on the east side of A’Chralaig in the Western Highlands. This rarely visited cliff lies above Lochan na Cralaig to the north of Loch Cluanie. (Photo Steve Perry)

“Driving towards Ben Nevis on February 10, it became obvious around Loch Laggan that all the hills were very white and swamped with soft snow,” Andy Nisbet writes. “Unable to think of any sensible, or at least accessible, new routes, we turned north at Spean Bridge and headed towards Glen Shiel, where at least I knew of a relatively easy new route which we could climb in poor conditions. I admit now I’d forgotten what a long approach it was.

I had spotted an unclimbed crag above Lochan na Cralaig in 2000 when climbing a route on remote Sail Chaorainn and looking a long way across the valley. 2001 was a great year for winter climbing and I visited the crag in January with Dave McGimpsey. We climbed the longest gully and the longest ridge both at Grade III in excellent conditions. I don’t think we put the rope on, so we even bagged the Munro of A’ Chralaig in the afternoon sun. I went back the following winter with clients of Martin Moran’s, climbing the left-bounding ridge of an amphitheatre again at Grade III. There was still time to do another route, with the plan that I didn’t want to make the long approach again. A groove at the back of the amphitheatre looked fairly straightforward but I soon discovered that it had smooth rock and limited protection. Hard moves well above protection defined the grade as VI,6 although its overall feel wasn’t as hard (Kraken).

But there was still a line, and 14 years dulls the memory of the slog up the back of A’ Chralaig. I had told Steve Perry and Jonathan Preston it would be a fairly easy day, but there was a lot of snow and it was my first day out after the flu. So I arrived on the ridge a long time after the others, by which time they were rather cold. The next problem was how to descend to the crag when it was misty, snowing and the ridge had a continuous soft cornice. We decided to rope up and send Jonathan (the heaviest) to collapse the cornice. (Actually he was so cold he insisted on going first, and we weren’t going to argue). He duly collapsed it, and it wasn’t as big as we’d feared.

There hasn’t been much of a build-up this year so we didn’t try the gully descent (actually it would have been OK) and outflanked the cliff to return to the ridge right of the descent gully. Most of it looked straightforward but there was a barrier wall blocking entry to a flying groove set in an impressive prow. We soloed up to the barrier wall where unfortunately you could escape into the gully. But we weren’t going to do that, so I volunteered to traverse under the wall in the hope of returning left above it. The traverse was committing above a big drop but it all fell into place as soon as I’d made the traverse. Great runners encouraged a swing out left above the overhang and a couple of moves later, it was all over. Jonathan led up the flying groove to a final horizontal arete. We decided on a grade of III,5 and called it Poseidon, keeping the mythological theme.

The weather still wasn’t great but I was determined to finish off the crag and climb a route on steep but more broken ground right of all the existing routes. There wasn’t much time so we didn’t take any gear and traversed under all the existing routes to find an easy gully. Actually I hadn’t expected it to be as easy as Grade I but there was a lot of snow. Steve and I plodded up the gully whereas Jonathan decided on a steeper line to the right. After a while, we were tempted by an exposed ramp (The Creel – III), which led up the steep left wall of the gully on to the top of the right-hand ridge (Curled Buttress). This was easy enough although the drop under our heels kept us on our toes. Jonathan crossed the easy gully higher up and also found a turfy line to tempt him out left.

It’s nice there are still some remote crags in good scenery and which no-one goes to, even if the routes are a bit short for the long approach.”

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