The time had come for a big day after lots of time spent in cairngorms. It was forecast to brighten up, so we went to the Ben. A 5.30 alarm, a rainy drive, and a cloudy walk to the CIC with snow showers did not make for happy feelings, but as we gained height in to Coire na Ciste the clouds lifted and the sun came out. With the crowds heading for Comb Gully, we went for Green (a third of the way along the trapezoid buttress) and it was a great choice.
We were at the bottom of the route for 12.30 (under 4hrs from car), and conditions were spot on. 5 pitches of grade III with grade 4 steps were a test for the calves and allowed practice in placing screws while on front points.
Protection averaged 2 pieces per pitch (of between 30 and 45m), but peg belays are in situ. The deadman was invaluable for the plateau belay. Topping out at 4.30 in to a setting sun completed a perfect day.
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Any day off work is a good day, but this was a belter. A lie in, drive to cairngorms, leave car park at 12, walk in with no wind and blue skies, grab a quick route, descend by sunset. We did the Haston Line, which has a short sharp crux, and has been graded variously III,4 ; IV,4 ; III,5! I'm not sure which is appropriate as the moves are quite powerful (layback off torqued axes with front points on an icey wall (1/4 inch ice)), and the gear's not great (as the cracks were iced up), but then, there's only a bit of it, so it's not sustained.