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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Winding our way above the clouds!

Stunning weather and snow conditions with an inversion over Strathspey. After a late start we headed into Coire an Lochain to find something to climb.

The path and snow was so icy we had to put on our crampons within a few 100 metre from the carpark! We kept the crampons on all the way though the snow got a bit more crusty the higher we climbed.
Coire an Lochain was plastered white but more or less empty apart from a  group of climbers below the start of Savage Slit and Fallout Corner and another team. We headed up to find a safe spot to gear up, passing a large pile of old avalanche debris, presumably from last weekend.

We decide to look at Sidewinder Direct/Third Man which I'd not done for about 20 years. We found another team at the start and decided to follow them up. At the bottom we had difficulty getting a good belay due to the thick ice in the cracks - an ice screw would have been useful.
I followed the other team up and found it less than positive and hard to get good protection which wasn't helped by my Quarks trigrest breaking yet again!  Fortunately the snow and protection improved half way up the first pitch. I had a nice sociable chat at the belay about a UKC thread on Fingers Ridge and I've just recently found out the leader was a friend!
The upper pitches have amazing situations as the route winds around the buttress. A real joy to climb, though again in the current icy conditions getting gear was difficult. Fortunately we had fairly good snow and ice and good belays so the long runouts weren't too worrying.
At the top of Prore, passing through the Savage Slit chimney was great fun as was the icy upper gully onto the plateau. More details and photo's on Fi's blog here

We saw some climbers on Savage Slit when we arrived, they were below us when we were climbing and they were still there when we left the corrie at last light, hopefully OK!
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