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Thursday, 5 March 2009

Snowy morning, sunny aftenoon

Quite snowy this morning though the weather fortunately improved by mid-day. By late afternoon it was actually nice and sunny.
Flat light, windy and a bit misty on the walk in though the snow wasn't too deep. In the coire you could still make out the crags and see the plumes of spindrift descending from many routes. Many of the harder mixed route were being climbed though the gullies were full of deepish fresh snow on top of the old neve they too were being climbed.
We geared up and headed up towards Aladdin's buttress and the Mirror wary of the deep snow on the crag aprons and the spindrift flowing down some routes. We'd thought the Direct ice route would have been very busy today due to the Guides and MIC assessments so we'd left behind our sharp ice axes and crampons. However there was only one team at the base of the Mirror Direct. The top section of ice which only a few days ago was completely detached from the rock also looked a lot more appealing...!
Keith and Fi were keen to give it a go so we had a bite to eat and waited until the other team had climbed up. I got a good video of the spindrift pouring down onto the leader at one point - well done and please get in touch if you want a video copy.
I climbed up clipping the two insitu pegs on the left and then wishing I'd brought my sharp Quarks with clipper leashes as I placed an iffy ice screw. The route is short though quite steep but my blunt mixed tools were OK despite the wobbles in the old axe hooks. BTW the top bit of ice is still a bit detached and needs a delicate touch to avoid it collapsing - no whackers please...!
Keith followed me up and did really well on his first Grade 4 ice route with straight shafted blunt ice tools then Fi, hotly pursued by an arrogant tailgater Nick from Cumbria, who seemed to think women shouldn't climb ice, that beginners shouldn't get in his way or that he shouldn’t be polite and ask to clip into our belay and tangle up our ropes. They were last seen heading up and getting stuck in a groove right of the top Aladdin's Couloir thinking it was Pygmy Ridge... ;-)
We continued up the Mirror on good neve with Keith getting a chance to lead, place gear and set up belays before descending a banked out Aladdin's Couloir which despite all the fresh deep snow in the gully felt relatively stable underfoot.
A good last day with Keith still buzzing at his first steep Grade 4 ice climb.
More details and photos can be found at http://www.marmotte.co.uk/blog/2009/03/lot-of-aladdins.html
I'll upload some more great video footage tomorrow.
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