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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

No Blue Skies rematch (sort of)

The morning started with a lot of snow in Aberdeen and Mark and I would not have started if the Scottish road webcams did not show free roads after Aberdeen. We found a very wintry Loch Morlich ...
... and Sneachda was a winter wonderland. Here climbers on Jacobs ladder and the slant.
No wind but it was cold. We decided to try a rematch on 'No Blue Skies' VI,7 because Brian and I had to walk off after pitch 2 earlier in the year due to darkness. Today the cliff was buried under sometimes good but mostly cruddy neve and ice. It was time consuming to find any protection and the climbing was sometimes bold and often very delicate. Here is Mark on pitch 2...
... me on belay duty ...

... and here Mark on pitch 3.
The crux move was on a flake and all the good hooks were covered by ice blobs or cruddy neve. Nothing to do a slightly overhanging move. Mark gave up after 30 min and I had a go. After a bit more gardening I found a very good hook but only for one axe and it was unclear whether the neve above would hold the cruxial second pull to get established on the upper slabs. It was 15.45 h and the climbers next to us had just finished The Melting Pot V,7. I decided to ask for a top rope (abuse now please!), did the move and found that the neve above was actually decent. Mark seconded quickly and when he arrived at the top it was already dusk.
Finlay and his mate climbed The Melting Pot and found the going tough as well. Here is them on the first pitch...

... and here is Finlay doing the crux move through the notch in the overhang. A great effort.

Conclusion: tough conditions, slow going. It should be considerably easier with either better neve or with much less of it. But the day was excellent even if the rematch wasn't perfect!


Anonymous said...

All that tooling and you can't even crank tech 7!!! ;-0

Fin Wild said...

Hey Henning,
Found your blog! was thinking of having a look at Gargoyle Wall but feel a bit uncertain now!
Fun day on Mess of Pottage - actually on our route that roof isn't a crux, i just took a while there getting some decent gear excavated!
Safe climbing.