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Monday, 16 February 2009

Adam's stag do

Adam and Vicky are getting married next weekend near Bristol and as the groom Adam needed a stag do. Being creative, we did not go for the traditional piss up with a waitress that can't afford clothing but went for the budget option which was a climb in the Norries. Fearing that married life would rob him of his climbing ability Adam was also keen to go for a (last?) hard route. We managed to plod through deep snow (by the way I was gliding through the snow using my rediscovered mini touring skis; 'Vorsprung durch Technik!') to reach Coire an Lochain and looked up the Hoarmaster V,6 inspired by other teams on Aqualung VI,7 (Dave, Steve and Kenny) Savage slit V,6 and Fallout corner VI,7. Here is a Dave Kerr just below the intial overhang on Aqualung...
... and here the Irish pro racing up Fallout corner. He did it in one pitch!

On closer inspection we saw that the cracks in the Hoarmaster chimney were choked with ice. With the prospect of little gear on a pumpy climb and the need for good belays I quickly chickened out and we went downhill to go for Ewan buttress direct start which is IV,6 in most books while Alan Fyffe gives it a very generous V,6. By the time we arrived at the start the Irish pro was nearly half up Fallout corner and the other teams were making good progress on Aqualung and Savage slit. You can just about spot them on the picture below showing Adam traversing down to the start of Ewan buttress direct.

The climbing on Ewan buttress direct was OK until a bulge required a move onto a rib on the left which meant rope drag. The best line then went right and left and the few pieces of gear were right and left and the rope went right and left and the result was the mother of all rope drags on a poorly protected stretch of balancy climbing with no belay in sight. I reached the end of the 60 m rope and found after a lengthy excavation (I should have taken a shovel) a large block which was ideal for a sling belay. Adam took his time seconding but managed not to load the rope which was a very good effort.

The second pitch was on good neve and ice with a good in situ sling at the crux and an easy neve gully to the top of the buttress. Adam led the last pitch which was a walk over a wee ridge to the mini cornice and onto the plateau.

By the time we reached the top French Erick & co had disappeared. My cunning plan was to glide on my mini skis back to the car park but unfortunately the reality was a little different. I ended up producing probably close to 50 craters on the way down. Skiing with mini skis on slushy snow is no fun because the tips easily get stuck in snow and then Newton's law kicks in and the skier lands head first in the snow. The heavy rucksack on my back pushed the rest of the body down and then the following procedure started:
1) I rolled over onto my back;
2) I started a series of clumsy movements which could be called 'turtle tactics'.
As a result of repeating this procedure over and over again I now have much more sympathy with all the pet turtles that have been put on their back by naughty little boys and failed to see the funny side. It was nearly as difficult as for a turtle for me to get back onto my skis in order to slide towards the next burial. At the end I arrived more tired and at the same time than Adam at the car park.
Anyway, next weekend I'll be off and am looking forward to attend Vicky's and Adam's wedding down South. They are a great couple and I hope that it all goes well for them!

1 comment:

Dave Kerr said...

You got me right. Dave, Steve and Kenny it was on Aqualung