Douglas Boulder has a collection of very good mixed climbs that do not rely on ice or neve at all. When the wind is strong or conditions higher up, these can be brilliant outes to enjoy. Having climbed Gutless and Jackknife a couple of times it was about time I got onto Cutlass so that's what Sally and I did today. It was ace!
Cutlass climbs a huge corner which is really obvious from below. There is a slabby ramp to get to the start of it and you are straight into the over-hanging crux moves from this belay ledge to get into the corner. With no ice in the big corner crack apart from a good few bits of verglas, there were plenty of chockstones and a couple of thin cracks to get the picks into. Tiny foot placements on the left wall intersperse the better foot ledges in the corner and the moves in between are fantastic. There was plenty of protection today so it was just about ideal conditions for climbing. At the top of the corner there are a few turf moves and the turf was fine to use, not solid but frozen.
The third pitch gets you right into a chimney from which it is not as hard as it looks to escape onto easier ledges and the SW Ridge of Douglas Boulder. When Scott climbed this route a few years ago he found the corner crack to be choked with ice which he used for his picks all the way with his feet out on the rock ledges on either side. The protection was pretty spaced for him since he didn't have ice screws with him! It just goes to show how varied these climbs can be. Today was snowed up rock with a bit of turf at the top. In a couple of weeks it could be very icy.
Ken and Andy climbed Slab Route in the Trident Buttresses which is also a very good early season climb to do. Again, there is some turf to get onto the slab that needs to be frozen and the ridge above the climb to the plateau is superb. It looks like we will get a few cold snowy days coming our way. The snow came down to sea level while we were climbing which made the drive back down the forest track the trickiest part of our day!
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.