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    Browsing Posts tagged Ken Applegate

    Ken Applegate belaying below the line of Cartouche (IV,4) on Stob Coire nam Beith in Glen Coe. This new 40m pitch makes an excellent finish to classic Grade IV’s such as Central Gully and Deep-Cut Chimney on the north face of the mountain. (Photo Nick Stone)

    Ken Applegate belaying below the line of Cartouche (IV,4) on Stob Coire nam Beith in Glen Coe. This new 40m pitch makes an excellent finish to classic Grade IV’s such as Central Gully and Deep-Cut Chimney on the north face of the mountain. (Photo Nick Stone)

    Ken Applegate and Nick Stone had an unexpected find on Stob Coire nam Beith on February 5. They climbed an excellent and sustained 40m Grade IV ice pitch that starts towards the top of North-West Gully. The pitch takes a direct line up the obvious ice-filled groove and finishes on the upper slopes of the mountain, where the angle eases.

    “I was guiding Nick on the Cold Climbs route Deep-Cut Chimney,” Ken explained. “The route was in great condition, with the crucial slabs on the left after the chimney well iced. After a further mixed pitch, we made our way up Central Gully to the point where Central Gully, and No.4 Buttress converge. Just down, and to our right, starting in North-West Gully was a very inviting and continuous pitch of ice, which neither of us could resist. It was a very fitting finish to a fantastic day!”

    The North Face of Aonach Beag from the Aonach Mor-Aonach Beag Col with the line of Highway Robbery marked in red. The steep icefall of Stand and Deliver (V,5) is the next prominent lie to the left. The face has been in good condition recently and the rarely climbed Camilla (V,5) and Blackout (IV,5) have also seen ascents. (Photo Ken Applegate)

    The North Face of Aonach Beag from the Aonach Mor-Aonach Beag Col with the line of Highway Robbery (III) marked in red. The steep icefall of Stand and Deliver (V,5) is the next prominent line to the left. The face has been in good condition recently and the rarely climbed Camilla (V,5) and Blackout (IV,5) have also seen ascents. (Photo Ken Applegate)

    The North Face of Aonach Beag has been icing up nicely over the last three weeks, and there have been several ascents of the Robin Clothier-Chris Cartwright test piece Stand and Deliver (V,5). I say test piece, because many teams find it very steep for Grade V, but when Robin and Chris first climbed it by nipping across from the CIC Hut one fine day in April 1989, they graded it IV.

    On January 19, Scott Kirkhope, Ken Applegate and Hannah Evans made the first ascent of Highway Robbery (III), the short ice line to the right of the existing routes. They were on their way to climb Stand and Deliver, but lost their way in the mist.

    “We were in the cloud whilst walking over Aonach Mor and down to the col, and the visibility was pretty poor, “ Ken explained. “We descended from the col, and simply started climbing too soon, as we should have descended a further 50m or so. We realised our error soon after starting out on the first pitch, but thought that it would be easier to finish the line, and then head back round to the col and back to Stand and Deliver, rather than to backtrack.

    It turned out that the main icefall of Stand and Deliver was completely obvious, even in the mist, once we were stood directly beneath the route!”

    Dave Almond making an early repeat of Tuberculosis (VI,6) on Stob Coire nan Lochan. This rarely climbed two-pitch route takes the steep groove right of Crest Route and was first ascended by Dave Hollinger and Guy Willett in February 2004. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Dave Almond making an early repeat of Tuberculosis (VI,6) on Stob Coire nan Lochan. This rarely climbed two-pitch route takes the steep groove right of Crest Route and was first ascended by Dave Hollinger and Guy Willett in February 2004. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Last week (December 10-14) was undoubtedly the week of the winter so far. Heavy snowfall was consolidated by a mini-thaw the previous weekend followed by stable cold weather with no wind and blue skies.

    Several of the major events have already been reported on scottishwinter.com – Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell’s first ascent of the Vapouriser (VIII,9) on Creag an Dubh Loch, Martin Moran and Pete Macpherson’s third ascent of Steeple (IX,9) on the Shelter Stone and Andy Nisbet and Brain Davison’s good run of new routes in Glen Coe and An Teallach.

    The Cuillin Ridge came into good conditions and four teams made the winter traverse. Both Scott Kirkhope and Ken Applegate and John Orr and Ronnie made a traditional outing with a bivouac, whilst the Fort William-based team of Guy Steven, Donald King, Kenny Grant and Duncan made a lightning-quick traverse in only 12 hours. This is very respectable time for a summer ascent and the team was aided by King’s intimate knowledge of the route. All these ascents were widely reported on various blogs and Twitter, but more impressive perhaps was a solo traverse by Barry Smyth with one bivouac. The Cuillin Ridge has been traversed in winter solo before, but to do it mid-winter with precious little daylight and long nights takes a very special resolve.

    Dave Almond had a good run of routes with Helen Rennard. They started off with The Secret/Cornucopia Combination (VII,8) on Ben Nevis, followed by Tyrannosaur (VI,7) on Lost Valley Buttress in Glen Coe. On their third day they climbed Sidewinder (VII,8) on the Ben and finished off their four-day spell with an early repeat of Tuberculosis (VI,7) on Stob Coire an Lochan. Dave then teamed up with Guy Steven and Blair Fyffe to climb Sticil Face (V,6) on the Shelter Stone with the Direct Finish.

    The line of Feathered Friend (V,5), a new two-pitch direct start to Crow Road on Bellevue Buttress on Creag Meagaidh. Recent remains (blood included) of a bird on the first pitch was the reason for the route name! (Photo Ken Applegate)

    On February 3, Ken Applegate was working for Abacus Mountain Guides and had a good day out with Vic Wallace on Creag Meagaidh.

    “Our initial plan was to climb Eastern Corner (III) and then traverse rightwards to continue up Ritchie’s Gully (IV,4),” Ken told me. “However on reaching the base of Eastern Corner we came across a team of three who were just about to start up it. Not wanting to follow a team up a corner due to the high likelihood of falling ice, never mind the ever pressing issue of time, I decided to head round to the left of Bellevue Buttress, to the base of an icy groove that I had spied on the walk-in. From a distance, it was clear that the line was complete, and looked to be at about upper-end Grade IV/Grade V, so perfect for our day’s objectives.

    On arriving at the base of the route, the compelling line looked to be in good condition, so I set off up the first pitch, up steep snow-ice. The snow-ice was generally good, taking a few screws in reasonable ice, and soon I found myself wedged in a small cave, 30m up at the first belay, a convenient wind scoop, capped by a huge block. Good water ice in the back of the cave allowed for a solid, if slightly cramped, ice belay.  From this point, a couple of steep moves left (crux) on good axe placements above the steepening, enabled steady progress out of the cave and with plumb vertical ice dropping away beneath, a healthy dose of exposure was ever present (good screws in solid blue ice protect the moves out left). Moments later, I gained easier angled snow-ice above, before a further 15m of climbing gained belay number two, a good rock belay, 20m left of a huge rock pinnacle.

    Pitch three continued directly up a further 50m of sustained Grade IV snow-ice, before reaching another ice belay on the right, in the back of an open cave, again formed by a wind scoop, capped by a couple of large blocks. A steeper section, again of about Grade IV led up and left initially, before gaining the easier angled snow slope above, after which a further 60m gained the plateau.”

    It turned out that Ken and Vic had climbed a two-pitch direct start to Crow Road (V,5), an icy mixed route that Ian Parnell and I ascended in November 2004. It is probably better as a pure ice route, and as Ken explained it was “all in all, an adventurous day out, with some great climbing (possibly two stars) up quite a striking line.”