That was a week to remember. For Tommy and me, that was probably the best week of Scottish winter climbing either of us have ever enjoyed. We've both done a huge amount of climbing and had very successful weeks in the past, but the combination of good (but still challenging) weather, first rate ice climbing conditions and a bit of luck to get onto climbs without queues resulted in a very satisfying list of climbs for us both. These are climbs that we have both wanted to do for very many years (decades in fact) and we did a good number of them this week. We're both very happy to take a rest day today with weary arms and a lot of satisfaction!
Of course we had to finish the week by climbing Mega Route X yesterday. This was on Tommy's list of dream routes from when he first got in to winter climbing, so it was really nice to be able to climb it on a lovely day and to find it in amazingly good condition. As we walked up to it, big Matt was cruising up it, having a lot of fun, and it was nice to share the experience of this climb with him and Martin. It also showed us just how steep it is! Mega Route X requires a very specific combination of snow above it, thaw and rain to produce water dribbling down the face, and freezing conditions to form the ice. Just too much or too little of any of these will stop if from forming. It looks like we have the perfect combination over the last couple of weeks. It is brilliant right now.
We climbed it in two pitches. The best line on the first pitch is different to how I found it a few years ago climbing with Abib - this time it seemed best to go up the crest of a pillar in the most sensational position to find the best ice for climbing! The second pitch looks as daunting as the first but once you get stuck in it works out very well with some wide bridging. Looking down from the top all you see are huge hanging icicles and pillars of ice on an extremely steep cliff. It is such an atmospheric place and was the perfect end to a fabulous week.
So, our list for the week is this -
It just goes to show how good the ice climbing conditions are at the moment, and how good the weather was for us this week. Lots of other people have been out having just as much as fun as us, and getting on to climbs that they have been waiting decades to try too. All the big classic grade V routes are in good condition, and some of them were climbed, such as Orion Direct. Today we have a thaw day with rain up to the summit, followed by a refreeze tomorrow and colder weather again next week. This thaw/freeze cycle will only improve the ice climbing conditions. We could be in for a mega Spring of classic ice climbing. Fingers crossed!
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.