Petestack Blog

28 February 2010

Stumped by The Skraeling

Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 7:42 pm

Today Jamie B and I headed to the North-East Corrie of Beinn an Dothaidh in search of some sensible mixed climbing in conditions where serious avalanche risk following this week’s dumps of snow over surface hoar still ruled out many of the more ‘traditional’ venues. And it soon became obvious on our approach to The Skraeling (IV,5) that scoured slopes and deep deposits of snow were vying for supremacy on a very localised basis…

Soloing up the initial pitches of Grade IIish ground to get the meat of the climb, we were slightly surprised to spy a party of three below us apparently heading for the gully of Taxus (III), but lost sight of them as we belayed below the ‘obvious roof’ and Jamie set about the first pitch proper. Which seemed to be going smoothly at first before grinding to a long halt and leading to his reappearance abseiling over the initial wall an hour-and-a-half later, by which time I was pretty well as cold as I was curious! Hard to say exactly what he found up there when I couldn’t see it and we were unable to communicate for most of that time, but I’m thinking he told me that the buttress was in surprisingly lean condition and his attempts to reach the corner above consequently foundered on unexpectedly committing ground. At which point, with me needing warming up and the climb gone, we simply coiled the ropes and beat it out of there, noting as we descended that the trio seen earlier had already negotiated the main body of Taxus in good time and were now engaged on the Icefall Finish.

And that’s about that, except to say that it’s been an expensive day with one of my pegs and one of Jamie’s wires sacrified to facilitate his safe return and a pair of mixed picks now also ordered for the Vipers I reluctantly left at home rather than start trashing their beautiful icefall picks on rock first time out! So I used neither the Vipers nor the Terminators (similarly left for the good of their ice points and uncertainty about those controversial mixed points) today, but obviously hope to get them all going soon.

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