Sun and Ice

This winter has just kept on going – leading to a slight case of Ice fatigue on my part. I’ve done a few more classic winter climbs as well as actually getting some rock climbing done in the Sun.

A February trip up to Scotland saw us climbing on Creag Meagaidh again, with very odd Scottish conditions -6 to -15 during the day (in the shade) with clear blue skies in all directions and fresh powder on a hard base leading it to feel more like the alps than the highlands! The first route of the day was Smith’s Gully a brilliant grade 5, that I have been waiting to climb for years, three long steep pitches each contrasting and really enjoyable lead to the top of the face. We finished the day with an ascent of the Wand a short Water Ice climb. On the Sunday we had a slight epic on Raven’s Gully of Buachaille Etive Mor; the route looked well ice, however this turned out to be an illusion – it was barely consolidated snow which wouldn’t support weight. This lead to a 7pm finish and a 2am arrival back in Leeds.

Walking out from Great Gable

The next weekend I only had one free day, so we had a day trip to the Lakes. We climbed Central Gully on Great Gable in perfect cold weather again! We got slightly lost on the way in, it turned out a 13 year old memory of the path (I was 12 when I last walked that way) was not quite up to scratch and some quick map reading led to the base of the crag. The climb was in good condition and quite busy that day – I think Gable crag must be one of the most reliable winter venues in the lakes.

Ralph leading the second pitch on Botterill's Slab

The following weekend we were back in the Lakes again; Saturday was spent on Scafell ice climbing. Scafell was in brilliant condition and it was another beautiful day; we started on the superb Botterill’s Slab (V/VI) – thin ice climbing with just enough gear followed by a really hard chimney. The second route of the day was Pisgah Buttress (V) which involved 3 pitches of pleasant mixed climbing. Sunday was spent rock climbing at White Ghyll in Langdale in the sun! This was basically the first proper day rock climbing of the year; I climbed 4 classic routes including White Ghyll Eliminate which I fell off.

On the Slab Pitch on Western Gully

Finally last weekend I was in Wales; climbing Ice on the Black Ladders on Saturday which was a bit soggy, but really good fun. First off we got to grips with Western Gully (V) a true classic, a tricky first pitch followed by a steep chimney with plenty of Ice in, led to the famous slab pitch that turned out to be really straight-forward and followed by one long pitch led to the top. We then climbed pyramid gully (IV) which I climbed 5 years ago and found quite challenging at the time – it was nice to go back a find it a bit easier. On the Sunday we rock climbed again in the sun this time at Tremadog – where I finally got on Vector a classic E2, which most people I climb with have done before. All in all several weekends of brilliant climbing at several different venues around the country.

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