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    Browsing Posts tagged Dafydd Morris

    Dafydd Morris contemplating the top wall/corner past the rock finger on the second pitch of Hangover (VI,6) on Creag Tharsuinn in Arrochar. (Photo Matt Buchanan)

    Dafydd Morris contemplating the top wall/corner past the rock finger on the second pitch of Hangover (VI,6) on Creag Tharsuinn in Arrochar. (Photo Matt Buchanan)

    “Headed out last Sunday (January 20) to Creag Tharsuinn in Arrochar with Matt Buchanan,” Dafydd Morris reports. “A great wee venue. Had a winter ascent of Hangover in mind, a summer Severe on the upper buttress. I’d been up to the crag a few weeks before and this caught my eye, a much better looking winter line than a summer one in my opinion, damp and turfy looking.

    The crag was in top nick, hoared up with bomber turf. I’d envisaged the top pitch would be the crux but it turned out to be the first 15m or so, a pretty tenuous pull over a bulge, not much gear and little for the axes made for an interesting few moves, this led into a great turfy steep corner to a relaxing belay ledge. We then headed up a rocky corner to a steep wall passing a finger of rock described in the guide. Great climbing, really enjoyed it. Grade wise, VI,6. Overall a top day, not a breath of wind, and plenty of time for a couple of pints of Jock Frost in the Village Inn down in Arrochar.

    On Thursday (January 24) we tackled The Sting on Beinn Dorain, with Matt again. A fantastic line, the ramp has some superbly delicate moves and the main corner pitch was great fun, steep and well protected. Discussed grades in the pub afterwards with Stuart MacFarlane and Gary Gray who had just done The Prophet. Stu had done the Sting a couple of years previously. General consensus was VI,6 for the ramp and V,7 for the corner, so overall VI,6 or VI,7? Winter grading, love the debates!”

    Dafydd Morris on the crux traverse of Gallows Groove (VI,7) on Creagan Cha-no on the east side of Cairn Gorm. The prominent gully of Fingers and Thumbs with its steep headwall can be seen just to the right. (Photo Matt Buchanan)

    Dafydd Morris on the crux traverse of Gallows Groove (VI,7) on Creagan Cha-no on the east side of Cairn Gorm. The prominent gully of Fingers and Thumbs with its steep headwall can be seen just to the right. (Photo Matt Buchanan)

    Dafydd Morris and Matt Buchanan made an excellent addition to Creagan Cha-no on December 16. “I managed to drag myself out of my sick bed to head back to Creagan Cha-no with Matt Buchanan on Sunday,” Dafydd told me. “I couldn’t face a long walk in, and having seen how good the climbing was when I did Anvil Corner a few weeks ago this seemed like a good option. We decided on a route on Arch Wall. We took the initial narrow chimney of the route Arch Wall to a ledge, and then followed the lower of two grooves rightwards across the steep slab (crux) on thin moves aiming for a turfy blocky chimney, and continued up this to the top.

    There was very little gear on the crux across the slab, only really turf stuff was available. The cracks were surprisingly blank, with not much for the feet, and didn’t have the hoped for bomber hooks I love so much. It took a lot of clearing too, and felt harder than Anvil Corner on the day. The route name derives from the fact I took a slight tumble on the lead and Matt thought I looked like I’d been sent to the gallows with my falling position!”

    Sandy Simpson moving past ‘the Anvil’ on the first ascent of Anvil Corner (VI,6) on Creagan Cha-no in November 2010. (Archive Photo Simon Richardson)

    The recent snow and cooler temperatures are beginning to bring the crags in the Northern Cairngorms into winter condition. Activity is picking up in the Northern Corries where routes that do not rely on frozen turf such as Honeypot, Pot of Gold, The Message and Pygmy Ridge have received ascents.

    I’ve just been contacted by Gary Gray who visited Creagan Cha-no today (November 27) and made an ascent of Anvil Corner (VI,6) with Dafydd Morris. His enthusiastic email gives a flavour of the current conditions:

    “It was not a great day for climbing with poor visibility and a fair bit of wind, but fortunately we were protected by the route from the worst of it. The turf was not [completely] frozen, but good enough when it mattered. Both pitches were excellent and sustained, so good value for such a short route. The route wasn’t plastered, unlike the crag in general, so gear was plentiful but awkward to place at times. A great route and worthy of a couple of stars at least!”

    Jeremy Windsor crossing the icy steps on the first ascent of Thea (III) on the west side of The Garadh on Ben Nevis. This route was one of the most walked past unclimbed medium grade route on the mountain. (Photo Jeremy Windsor Collection)

    As chance would have it, on Friday January 20, two teams independently set their sights on the first winter ascent of Cryotherapy, a VDiff on the west flank of The Garadh in Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis. Jeremy Windsor, Piers Harley and Rob Marson arrived first and climbed the obvious line of icy ramps up the centre of the face. “We climbed diagonally for one pitch (60m) crossing a series of iced up steps,” Jeremy told me. “We felt it was worth a grade of III and possibly a star! A very enjoyable preamble for something like Glover’s Chimney or White Line.”

    Just as Jeremy, Piers and Rob were gearing up, Dafydd Morris and Matt Buchanan arrived with the same intention. Instead, Matt and Dafydd climbed the line of mixed grooves to the left to give Crying Out Loud (IV,5). Dafydd is unsure where their route starts in relation to the summer line, but thinks they finished up the final groove of Cryotherapy.

    “I couldn’t believe it,” Dafydd told me. “We got to the base of the route and there were three guys there saying that was their target for the day! Hence the “Crying Out Loud” name suggestion. They climbed the snow ramp heading up and left above them, which they thought was Cryotherapy, hence we’re all a bit confused now. Anyway, a fantastic day in little wind, top turf and gear, a cracking little route whatever it was, exposed with great climbing.”

    Jeremy decided to name their grade III Thea, so it will be up to the next guidebook writer to sort out the relationship of theses two climbs with the summer line of Cyotherapy. (Ooops, that will be me then!)