What an amazing day it was today. Non stop sunshine and light winds with crunchy snow, solid ice and bone dry conditions made it a perfect day for ice climbing. Richie has been coming to go ice climbing for about 18 years and finally we got to climb Point Five Gully and it was worth the wait. Some days it all comes together and today was one of those days.
There were two parties ahead of us by the time we got there but everyone was moving well and enjoying the day. Point Five Gully has of course been climbed quite a lot recently so the belay ledges are chopped out and there are steps and hooks on the pitches so there was very little debris coming down the climb. We were moving well too - Richie only manages a couple of days of ice climbing each year but he can swing and axe and was loving the steep climbing and the positions.
The first pitch is fairly short and climbed on the left with a wee step right just below the belay. The Chimney Pitch is the crux at the moment and it gives a long pitch of really fun ice climbing with pretty good ice screws and a rock runner. The Rogue Pitch is quite steady right now since it has formed a groove that can be bridged and has an easy step out of the top onto the easier angled snow.
From there it's three pitches of snow with occasional bits of ice to the cornice which is avoided on the right. If you take a high belay under the Rogue Pitch and do a 60m pitch to the big bulge of ice you can do the whole climb in six really nice pitches. On top the sun was shining very brightly and it was warm out of the breeze. You could see all of Scotland or so it seemed. You could certainly see the Paps of Jura, The Cuillin of Skye and the Outer Hebrides, Ben Wyvis and Schiehallion!
Other teams were climbing Orion Direct, Hadrian's Wall Direct, Sickle, Rubicon Wall, Observatory Buttress, Smith's Route, Tower Ridge and Ledge Route. There's lots of climbing in Coire na Ciste as well.
Well done Richie, your patience paid off! What a wonderful day. Looks like we will get another really nice day tomorrow before a quick thaw on Wednesday night with a bit more fresh snow.
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