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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Hadrian's Wall Direct V,5***

February is the time when the icy lines on Ben Nevis come into condition. The cliffs collect snow in December and January which in February repeatedly thaws and freezes to transform into snow ice. One of the great icy lines which I had never climbed is Hadrian's Wall Direct, first climbed by Mike G. Geddes and Graham E Little in 1971. Robbie was available, I had some time, the forecast predicted not too much wind and some clouds on the coastal hills and the UKCers and guides seemed happy with the conditions. So game on. Robbie and I left Dundee at a relatively late 5.15 am but the drive was smooth and we were racing up the hill, overtaking several teams on the way. And no coastal clouds!
We drank some water at the CIC hut and quickly ascended past the Douglas boulder towards Point Five Gully seen above Robbie's head and Hadrian's Wall to the left...
 Here is a photo of Point Five Gully and Hadrian's Wall. The route takes the inital ice fall, followed by a chimney, easier snow fields and a final band of iced up rocks. 
 Here is a team from Aviemore on the first icefall, the key feature of the route...
 ... and here yet another team joining the Point Five party!
 Here I am starting the icefall.
 I am initially a little nervous on ice but after a few moves the routine comes back and it all feels solid. Robbie then led the second pitch of the ice fall...
 ... whilst team Glasgow was hot on our heels.
Hadrian's wall is a good point to take photos of the lower pitches of Point Five, seen below. 
 The icefall of Hadrian's eventually relents and a chimney becomes visible, here tackled by team Aviemore. 
 Here I set off, carrying the limited rock gear on one sling and the quickraws on another. Rockgear is almost useless as there is 90% ice screw protection. 
 After the chimney two long pitches ascend the snowfield which was mostly good neve with a couple of welcome ice blobs for screw protection. Here is Robbie on the first of the snowfield pitches...
 ... and here I set off on the second aiming for the final rock band. 
 Two pitches then climb the rock band at roughly grade IV. Climbing with 60 m ropes allowed Robbie to belay near the place where the Aviemore climber is seen. 
 From there it was just 15 m to top out. Here I climb the last metres of the route.
 I walked off onto the plateau and Robbie followed on a tight rope. Here I am on the top of the UK once again with a clear view ranging from Schiehallion to the North Western hills with hardly any coastal clouds...
 The skies turned into a warm orange...
 ...easing the descent.
 We mountaineered into number 4 gully where the normal entry was blocked by a cornice and bum glissaded to the CIC hut. The skies were a mix of pink and blue. This is me...
 ... and this is Robbie in a photo taken with a flash.
 We slogged on to arrive at the car just after 6 pm.
No need to comment on whether it was good as some things are self evident.
HW

6 comments:

Niall K said...

Hi Henning,

I have a couple of pics of Robbie from yesterday if you're interested.

Niall

Ryan & Henning said...

Hi Niall,

Yes, that would be great! Were you team Aviemore, team Glasgow or team elsewhere on the mountain?

What a great day, eh?

Cheers,

Henning

Niall Kydd said...

Glasgow team (English accent). Largely classic Winter bum shots. I'll msg you via UKC.

Niall Kydd said...

And yes, great day, despite cuts and bruises from the falling ice!

Ryan & Henning said...

Hi Niall,

Sorry about the bruises! I tried to climb carefully but there is only so much you can do... I had a hit on my thigh but not too bad.

Cheers,

Henning

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