Chafe gazing out across Sheffield from 9 storeys up
Chafe gazing out across Sheffield from 9 storeys up
Photo: Mark gurning before lurching for the next hold and taking flight
The next day with a lunch time lift out to curbar offered me and Mark dragged ourselves to Matts house to get into Fattys car and trundle out to the crag. Feeling slightly worse for wear but keen we headed to the Barons wall area, ticking a few VS' and HVS' (hard for the grade!) and then qucikly getting on the E1 Lamebrain, a definate classic E1 that seems barely climbed purely because of the stars i nthe guidebook, or lack of. Also a rareity in that its quite soft touch. Soon We headed over to the L'Horla area to try Maupassant and L'Horla. The Maupassant was a good fight even on second and L'Horla went badly. Climbing like a spesh i managed to get to the notch on the arete after much faffing. Getting there my arms couldnt pull any harder and my head seemed to not want to be there so i had a pussy attack. Bad timing so i slumped onto the bomber cam and lowered, pulling the ropes and going again cleanly soon after. Trying to salvage something of my brain i got straight on Kayak an easy E2 5b slab further along the crag but it didnt seem to do the trick, because as i sit here i feel like a massive girl.
Anyway for tomorrow ive got an epic charity / training event to do. 10 eastern grit crags and 20 routes...by bike! That should be fucking hard work but a good craic hopefully!
Photo: Me on L'Horla the second time around (M.Sharpe)
Bowel Explosion Pre-Climb (Photo: M.Rankine)
Heading out early saturday morning, we started the walk in to sneachda at 7am hoping to beat the crowds, which we kind of did. Getting to the bottom of the Message we were keen as we were first there, so began gearing up, but unfortunately the nights food had my stomach in uproar so i tended to the call of nature firing off some logs. By which time 2 people had passed us and got on route, so hoping our other route choices were free we ran along the bottom of the crag to Pateys Route. It was free, but did look suitably buried. Ah well, Onward! Mark climbed the first pitch which was maybe tech 4. to the first stance. From there i collected the gear and headed up to the crux pitch. What a crux. Clipping the insitu gear under the huge chockstone and trying not to completely destroy my powdery footholds i swung over the bulge. Bridging as far wide as i could i managed to get the tip of my front points smeared on either side of the gulley. Pullinh hard on my left axe i reached up high. But just as i swung with my right axe to get a placement, both my feet slipped simultaneoulsy...Fuck!
Heading up to the Chockstone Crux (Photo: M.Rankine)
Getting a tad scared, i managed to crawl my feet back up onto the wall and pull back up to get established above the chockstone. Gave so much to that pitch i was very relieved to reach the stance further up.
Once we had ticked this route we traversed the snow-choked gullies of Aladdin and headed to the toe of pygmy ridge. It was in beautiful nick, bit lacking in turf but quality route. Mark led up off the crux pitch as i had the crux of pateys, he did well climbing on sloping holds and spaced gear. Finishing the route was a pleasure as the technicality dropped but was still engaging and thoroughly enjoyable. Getting to the plateau we realsied we were an hour late for the bus already so ran down the hill via point 1141. We got down to only be told a group of walkers sharing the bus were late as well so we sat down to wait. 4hours later with no communication they text us saying they were on the plateau.
The next day on the basis of the shite forecast (70mph winds, white out and lots of powder) we went on a reindeer safari round the hills behind Glenmore lodge. Needless to say we saw no actuall reindeer, just some foot prints. But it was a pleasant 13km walk that is good for the logbook.
All the money i had left.....(Photo: M.Rankine)
Drilling Abbaloffs, living the dream (Photo: Jim Callender)
Once we were down, we had a lot of wet kit so remembering i had a mate staying in the Glen Nevis YHA we decided to pay him a visit, drying our kit out at the same time. Getting there we realised this could become an integral part of our stay in scotland. Free left over food, drying room, kitchen, and a dining room were all availible to use for a little discretion. Settling in for the evening, we ate well (potatoes, pasta, salsa, tuna and mayo) and discussed our options for the morrow. As it was our first day back in scotland we were gunna take a rest day and do some work on a trip we've got in the pipeline for june. At around 10pm we began wondering where we would sleep, Pete and Jim would use their car but me and James were less keen on this so drove down the road a little, and thankfully stumbled upon the visitors centre. We investigated and the toilets were left open, but more specifically the disabled ones had locks on so no one would disturb us sleeping in the morning. We bedded down for the night- after ditching the car in the local cemetry- in the ladies. It smelt nicer.
After a rest day pestering the Fort William librarians for more time on the computers, we headed back to the YHA to grab our dry kit, eat and then head to the Creag Meaghaidh car park a 45min drive away. Pitching the tent that night you could tell tomorrow would be a good day, all the stars shone jsut that little bit brighter. As they always do when things come together.
Waking up at 545am again we had a slightly slower start to the day and left at around 630 due to the tent being frozen and us being reluctant to move from warm down bags into the cold morning air. The walk in went without hitch and we found ourselves and the bottom of the Pumpkin at about 9am. Pete and Jim had gone the other side of the buttress from us to do Last Post. The route was brilliant, the ice was in good nick, little slushy on the lower pithces and thin in places but where it was needed it was bomber. The last pitches had less gear, keeping you thinking until we pulled over the cornice at 330pm into the sunset. Perfect day out. WE degeared and decided to descend down Easy gully underneath Pete and Jim so we could say hi and tell them our plans. As we bum slid down the gully in deep powder we could see them 3/4 up the route and that they had been joined by another group. So we shouted over what they had left and then carried on our way to the car. Heading back to the YHA when we got to the cars, as we reasoned there would be 4 of them, at least one should have a phone if anything had happened to them. It also meant we could get tea on. We reckoned they would be 4 hours behind us.
At 1030pm we started getting worried so rang mountain rescue to see if they had had any call outs that eve in the area. They hadnt, so we went back to the toilet thinking they had been knackered, slept in the car where it was, and had no signal. We slept thinking they were fine.
The next morning after still not having heard anything we drove the 45mins to the meggi carpark and found their car in exactly the same place. With no one in it, or any sign of life. SHIT!
We rang the mountain rescue again and got fuck all help from a cop who was an utter douche. Eventually he realised we werent tools and sent a cop car out to us. We had subsequently heard reports of an avalanche on meggi the previous eveing. Our thoughts went into overdrive. After hours of useless talking to an anally retentive cop we left the car park and headed to Fort William police station, still ringing Pete and Jim and we did. Still nothing. Then at about 630pm we got a call. They were fine, Jim had lost his bag, the car keys and phone as he had left it at the bottom of th route and it was subsequently covered by a falling cornice. Me an James went straight to the pub for a pint. It tasted pretty fucking good.
The next day i was due to leave for home and the examness of uni to restart. So having one last meal in the YHA and a good kip in the toilet we got up at 7am and headed over to Aonach Mor via the Gondola!! Its quite ironic how we refuse to pay for accomodation or food, but anything that lets us climb is a given. The cornices overhanging the descent were a little unreasuring, but by skirting around the right of them we were able to reach the start of our route, White Shark. This route is much shorter than anything on meggi so suited our needs for the day as i had a train to catch at 530pm. So heading up the perfect snice i was happy with how the day was going. This only continued as i reached the belay, brought James up and watched him lead off on a hard pitch (was at least V). As i left to second i got into the groove well and fully enjoyed the climbing and exposure, finishing the steep ice you are faced with a massive cornice. As i looked across at this monstrosity i saw that James had dug a small tunnel through at the left hand side. Following the rope to this tunnel i pushed and shoved until i got through. Bursting out into yet anohter perfect end to the day.
Getting changed quickly in Morrisons car park and jumping on the train to glasgow i thought back on how much i had enjoyed the craic of the last few days despite the one day fear fest when Pete and Jim went missing. 22hours later i arrived back at Cardiff after a 6 hour stint in Glasgow sheltering under a bus stop, I was a bit hungry, sleepy and thirsty. But my soul had been nourished just that little bit more than it would have been had i stayed at home and gorged as xmas celebrations dictate.
(More photos to follow)