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Monday, 9 March 2009

Lean Patey's packs a punch

It had been two weeks since I'd climbed in the hills, due to poor weather and thawing, so it was fair to say that John and I were keen to get out. The forecast wasn't looking to promising giving wind speeds gusting 60 to 70 mph. It was a case of travelling over and having a look to see what was possible.

On the walk-in I stupidly thought that the forecasters may have got it wrong, it was windy but not as strong as suggested and the weather looked to be passing to the north (above). Dawn cracked with the Sun throwing some interesting colours over the high clouds in the glens below.

As we progressed it became apparent that the worst of the weather was on it's way. I suggested we climb Patey's route IV/5**, a big gully line that splits the buttress (above). Hoping we'd get some shelter form the now constant wind and snow. I knew John was wanting to do this one and it had stuck out at me a couple of years back when I'd started climbing.

We soloed up to the first bulge only encountering a small ice step on the way. A good belay was found below the bulge but this itself looked very thin holding only a short icicle that didn't even touch the slope below. In hope of finding the route in better condition i hopped on it and found, much to my surprise, that it was pretty hard even if it was short lived.

Easy climbing then led up to another bigger steepening, a slabby corner with a crack in the corner would probably be a doddle when iced up (above). There wasn't much to do but press on and try to reach the good ice above. With tenuous hooks, crampons scratching about on the slab, bridging, very little good gear (apart for the odd rusty peg!) but with no swearing! the 'good' ice was reached only to be disappointingly useless.

John came up and joined Me under the cave out of the now constant spindrift. He stated that this 'is the hardest thing I've climbed' and I'd agreed, harder than Deep cut chimney or the Seam. But the game wasn't up yet. He was surprised (above) to see the way ahead was over a short slab to easier ground. John led this well considering, though he did have a shaky leg that Elvis would be proud of at one stage!

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