Monday, 23 February 2009
A cold shower then a wet meander up and down the routes
I'd arranged a days guided climbing with David so looking at the forecast an early start was in order to make the most of the lower freezing level - well that was the plan.
It was however warmer and mistier than forecast and David's poles were useful for crossing the flooded boulder field to the foot of Aladdin's and Central Gully area.
Through the mist we could just make out the Mirror Direct icefall so out of curiosity we headed up towards the roar of water. Yes the Mirror was a bit of a waterfall!
"Can't be as bad as it looks once you put up your hood and cross under the deluge..." I said to David. In fact it was actually a lot worse!
I placed an ice screw and moved left onto the slightly drier ice to my left but as soon as I looked up the freezing water starting pouring down my front and down my sleeves - "OK David, just as I thought we'll do something else...!"
The old snow in the gully was actually quite good so we put away the rope and climbed up the Mirror then traversed right below a wet Pygmy Ridge, down into Central LH and right across the ridge into Central RH then up a bit onto the rib between Central and the Runnel.
The orginal plan was to move into the Runnel and then up Grooved Rib.
However, the line up the rib to the left of the Runnel had good firmish wet snow and no foot prints so in the end we followed our noses climbed up to the top of the rib which was good fun.
From the plateau we descended Aladdin's Couloir passing several large loose poised blocks on the right (descent) then broke out right (descent) above the narrows and crossed below the Forty Thieves area. We then made our way up to an interesting looking icy gully line with a mixed step and small cornice breaking through the rock band at the top.
This time we belayed and took out the rope for a good entertaining 50 metre pitch back up onto the plateau.
Another quick descent this time down Jacob's Ladder for lunch. We noticed a lot of large TV sized rocks had fallen from Jacob's and the Slant so we made sure we kept away from the lower Mess of Pottage buttress.
It was still early so after lunch we headed up onto the Slant past a number of instructional parties and onto Jacob's Edge. It was at this point that we realised where a lot of rockfall had come from.
The tricky little step just after the rock belay at the start of the Slant and Hidden Chimney had been completely eroded away down to loose rubble. This has been caused by huge amount of tread milling traffic the route has suffered over the past few weeks. I was quite shocked by the extent of the damage caused - it's is really bad. We climbed Jacob's Edge which still had a lot of good old snow but was still broken and loose in several places.
Back on the plateau again, a quick squeeze of the third pair of sodden gloves we called it a day and headed back down. It was probably the wettest I've been all winter but in retrospect we had good fun climbing exploring...!
See the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqhHlVmVdd8
In contrast our Winter Mountaineering course had a drier day with instructors Fi and Becky. They were learning basic ropework and setting up belays.
Also Simon and Mark have now updated their blog following their weeks climbing in the Northern Corries. Some great photos and interesting tales of the near misses and falls they witnessed...!
Last but by no means least least Morris has uploaded a YouTube video of his snowholing trip over the Friday and Saturday and this can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gzN1AzQXhs