Second time lucky.
Just over a month ago Donald and I had a go at climbing Raven's Gully. Donald has tried before but it was the first go for me. We didn't get very far! Right now we have very different climbing conditions than we had back then. Lots and lots of snow fell in between and we had a good thaw and refreeze this week. So it was time for another go at Raven's Gully for me and John was lucky enough to share the adventure. I've looked up at it for the last twenty years and known that it was a big gap in my winter climbing tick list. It was so good to get it ticked today.
The trickiest move of the very many tricky moves on the climb is right at the start. Solid snow made it easy to get onto the first chockstone but the one imediately above is the crux and always gives a good fight. There are a couple of icy blobs on the left wall which were good to stand in and the rock is dry so it is asy to see the foot holds. The combination of these things made the move seem OK so it was game on. Raven's Gully is a lesson in chockstone climbing. It is the slottiest slot in Glen Coe and full of massive chockstones. It is very easy to get comfortable underneath each one and pretty hard getting around them all.
The snow and ice groove above the fork is no push over either. Small blobs of ice and snow were in just the right places and there was plenty of hooking in cracks as well. Some of the snow was cruddy and useless though so the climbing involved about every kind of move and hold you can imagine. We hooked cracks and chockstones, got great sticks in ice and snow, pulled and pushed with hands on the snow, bridged, pulled and balanced all the way up. Totally absorbing climbing in the most amazing place and a brilliant adventure. It was worth the wait. Raven's Gully delivers!
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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.