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Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Blue Max E1

Creag an Dubh Loch is probably the finest cliff in Britain and every British climber should make the pilgrimage at least once. Living in the area enables climbers to move in when the conditions are right (and the exit ticket is award) to do one of the longest routes in Britain. In winter Labyrinth Direct was the highlight of the season and this Saturday Robbie Miller, Arno Alpi (an Austrian alpinist working in the Dundonian life sciences Empire) and myself committed to the long walk in from Glen Clova to try 'The Blue Max' at E1 5b**. The line is a variation on Cyclops but the three extra pitches on the lower pitch make the climbing significantly harder and arguably better. Ten metres into the climb is a first wake up call: An overlap which seems tricky for 5a at that stage because it needs time to get used to get used to the good friction...

Robbie led the second pitch which ends with a protection and holdless traverse over to Cyclops. I found it harder than anything on Hammer on the Etive slabs. Then in a great position some easy moves through the main overlap at 4c...

Now the 5b pitch: A diagonal traverse to a block with an obvious crack to climb the main overlap in two steps...

If you think it's all over then think again. Two more challenging moves and the last overlap seems more like a Boulder problem and it takes some time to find the right sequence. These 40 m are action packed! An easier pitch to the terrace and then up to the large V-groove above the boulders with the old slings. Robbie led the remaining 4c pitches. The big, airy V-groove was excellent climbing and it was a bit wet and seemed hard for 4c, particularly the move near the peg. Here is Robbie bridging for glory...

Robbie climbed straight up although it probably would have been better to escape onto the arete on the left earlier. After that the 4c pitch of Cyclops which was good climbing up the corner and then onto another arete. Finally a grassy and then scrambly pitch onto the plateau and then the painful slide through a snow filled central gully to reach the bottom:

Change shoes and then the long way back over Broad Cairn to the car park in Glen Clova. 'The Blue Max' is harder than 'The Needle' and 'Minus One Direct' with a lot of varied climbing. The climbing is better than Cyclops but it is unfortunately not the direct line. Many of the photos were taken by Arno. Finally a video of the thin 5a slab, a 5 b move, the V groove and then the descent through Central Gully with a climber that was soon surfing the Cougar.

HW

2 comments:

Granite Shop Calgary said...

Its very tough to climb ..........

Maria John said...

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