Even after 27 years of climbing rock in this area there are very many excellent climbs I have not done. So when I get the chance I try to make the most of it to go to search out some climbs that are new to me. Dave and I have climbed together a few times, including a Sea Stacks trip, a Cuillin Traverse (in the wet) and some Winter Climbing. He has also done lots of climbing in the Alps. So when we got a good weather forecast for this week I started to think of what we could do that would be new to us both.
We started with some Classic Rock routes in Glen Coe. The Long Crack and Archer Ridge are both fantastic climbs that link well together. Weeping Wall was living up to its name though and The Long Crack was pretty wet. Since we were up high already we carried on up to Church Door Buttress, along a really cool path over the west face cliffs of Aonach Dubh and up some pretty horrible scree.
Deep inside this buttress is Crypt Route, a rock climb unlike any other. It is much more like uphill caving than climbing, especially when it is wet and slimy! Head torches are essential to find your way in the darkest tunnels and chambers and don't wear your favourite bright climbing clothes, they will never be the same again. We emerged onto the arch to find the clouds and drizzle were lower than before so we udged up the final chimney groove to the top, thoroughly worked.
It was nice to see the crags of Ben Nevis drying out in the sunshine on Wednesday. The Long Climb takes a good couple of weeks to get dry (if it is ever completely dry) so we ruled this one out. Instead we went for Strident Edge on South Trident Buttress, a fantastic high mountain VS 4c with everything it a mountain rock climb should have including slimy cracks, a little loose rock and awesome exposure.
Andy joined us for this one and we climbed the beautiful ridge all the way to Carn Dearg before going along to descend Ledge Route. This was such a cool mountain day, a great circuit up South Trident Buttress with the views right across the North Face to a great summit, then down another great ridge, all in the sunshine
Today it stayed a bit cloudy in the west and we were in search of more Classic Rock. So we went to Coire an Lochain in The Cairngorms, along with a few other teams as it turned out. We planned on climbing Savage Slit and Fallout Corner (that I had not climbed in summer) but another team was already on Savage Slit and a team behind us decided to go for Fallout Corner. So we climbed Prore in the sunshine, between these two other routes.
Prore (VS 4c) does not get as many stars as the other climbs here but it is sensational. Prore is an obsolete term for the prow of a ship, and once you are established on the route you feel as exposed to the drop as you would be on any big boat. Beautiful, rough granite and delicate moves make this a route to savour.
We abseiled down and slotted in behind the team in Fallout Corner, which is a lot of fun. It is showing plenty of signs of many winter ascents, including a few bits of stuck protection. It also has slightly more positive breaks and cracks so the climbing is steady away and very well protected. Such a striking line draws your attention and it is a very nice climb.
It's easy to get over to the abseil point as well - in fact there are abseil anchors all over the top of this cliff. It would be well worth going there to tidy it all up. We took away some of it like we did yesterday on Ben Nevis. We all need to make an effort to tidy up when we can.
Of course the most striking line is Savage Slit. This isn't just a chimney, this is a slit that passes right through the mountain and out the other side. While the breeze rising up the cliff on the outside is warm, the draft coming out of the slit is cold and dank. Savage Slit is probably connected to Crypt Route deep under the ground.
Thankfully, you can climb the outside of the slit and avoid its powerful embrace. If you do step into it, it will not let you go easily. Bridge up the outside and look into the deep dark depths but don't be tempted to dive in too far.
Tomorrow we will stay in the west in search of exciting new ground for us both. We have our eyes on the big herdsman, where the ravens haunt the deep gullies.
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.