Thanks to Walter Black for these lovely pictures of Gardyloo Gully. A fine day out with Charles Speyer and the guide Owain Jones, topping out on a fine sunny day.
Summit of Ben Nevis on 26th February.
Summit view across Tower Ridge, Loch Eil and Rum just visible in the distance.
Entering the narrows of Gardyloo Gully with two teams at the base of Shot in the Dark and or Satanic Verses
Easy summit finish on the right of Point Five Gully, aiming for the crest of Observatory Buttress.
Above the hard pitches the angle eases with a few grade II/III pitches. We headed up left to avoid the crowds, finishing well left of the main cornice. Sixty metre ropes are a bonus and we did three pitches up to grade III.IV
The Rogue Pitch, which is the third and last hard pitch on Point Five Gully.
The Chimney Pitch (2nd) is often the crux in my opinion, especially when it has big holes in it. At the moment it does have one damp section with a touch of ‘mush’ and is not too fat. Yesterday we managed some protection on the right wall just above the stance with small to medium wires. A lot of fixed pro is in-situ higher up this pitch. This pitch is best climbed with one run-out to good anchors on the right wall. Fifty metre ropes are adequate, but 55m or 60m lengths do help.
Which rope are we tied on to?
I joined the International Lemmings who flocked to the best western ice climbing venue yesterday. I didn’t hear a word of English spoken all day. I think there may have been a ‘Geordie’ or two up ahead in the scrum of Point Five Gully. Turning the corner into Observatory Gully it became clear that my leisurely approach and late departure at 0730 would consign us to being bombed all day from the pilgrims above. The majority of folk seemed intent on queuing higher up the gully on Smiths Route and Psychedelic Wall and Indicator Wall and Albatross. In the end the numbers in Point Five Gully only just reached double figures. One happy chappy decided to belay in the middle of the (2nd)chimney pitch, which did cause some minor congestion.
The Spaniards with whom we shared a number of stances were very impressed with the quality of the ice….”is it always like this”?…….they asked…..”Oh yes, but often much better”….So I have done my bit for Scottish climbing tourism. The trouble is, that if they go up again this week it will become obvious that conditions can be somewhat fickle.
The quality of the ice according to our Spanish cousins was like butter or cheese. Obviously a little softer than their usual Pyrenees brittle stuff.
Today we are getting snowy, stormy weather and the same tomorrow. This will put a shine back on the cliffs, which have darkened over the last week or so. The climbing is still good above 900 metres.
Number Two Gully Buttress
Took these two pictures on his day out in Coire na Ciste. Teams were active all over the crags, including Tower Face of Comb and Babylon.
If anyone using the driving track from Nevis Range finds themselves with a set of keys they do not recognise, please contact Glenmore Lodge on 01479 861256.
I have an ice axe handed in to me by Remi, the French guide who was staying at the hut last week. He found it on Tower Ridge. Anyone who wishes to describe the axe accurately will be reunited with with their tool in return for postage. Thanks Remi.
Think we spoke at the top of the route but as it was getting dark we were concentrating in getting packed so apologies if we appeared a bit abrupt!
Like you we had a leisurely approach from the North Face carpark (full) and arrived at that Dam carpark through the mud (the path has actually got worse since last week!) to see the crocodile from the International meet just ahead (horror!). You see the plan was according to my sources was to arrive late as the Lodge mini buses (BMC Meet) would arrive around 6:00 am at the Dam. They’d all scoot off up the routes to be back for tea and cake at 4:00pm just as we arrived at the foot of the route I’d spotted last week. Didn’t work out though as they all arrive late and left even later…
Anyway Two Step corner as one of my several guide books (various vintages) says is steeper than it looks and can have a difficult cornice finish… is as stated! We almost went up Quick Step to avoid queuing but with a blank thin section and an even bigger cornice that would have been daft?
I’ve sent you several photos but if you have to select one please choose the one of Fi as I did insist she should lead through to save time and the cornice wasn’t as bad as it looked…. it was and I was thankful I hadn’t got that pitch! Other than the queues the climb and conditions on the Ben were superb. Early start and drive from Aviemore for two days on the Ben within a week must say something about the ice conditions…
Thanks Ron. Very chivalrous of you letting the lady lead the cornice:-)) The walk down in the dark was fine, but by the time we reached the Red Burn a group of French climbers had tagged along for the route finding across the last bit of bog. I have it from a very reliable source that the lower muddy track will be sorted by the summer 2007.