Continuing the theme of chimneys this week, Tommy and I climbed The Great Chimney on the east flank of Tower Ridge today. Steady snow was falling as we walked in with very light winds. We were expecting a frost and dry conditions today so it was a surprise to get more snow. With the ice climbs still being a bit lean I wanted to be able to see the ice before climbing it - with the fresh snow this was impossible so we went for a climb that we knew would work out for us.
Walking up Observatory Gully was hard work in the soft snow. We had fresh snow last night and the night before so progress is difficult on foot. The Great Chimney benefits from having solid snow. There was little solid snow today but there was plenty of soft snow to clear out of the way. Excellent climbing in two pitches up the chimney got us to Tower Ridge. The final wall in the chimney is baffling at first sight but with some wild back and foot bridging and some determination it goes well. The climb felt harder than the others we have done this week so V,6 is probably about right.
One team turned around from walking (wading) up to Hadrians Wall Direct. The ice on this climb looks OK and Point Five Gully looks fat. Smiths Route is well enough formed but generally the big ice climbs are not great. Green Gully and Comb Gully, Tower Scoop, The White Line, Waterfall Gully and many other mid grade snow and ice climbs are pretty good to climb but the ice is not always very solid. Ice has been forming on Mega Route X and The Shroud but I think both are still a bit too thin to have a go at.
The great ridges are all very nice although coming down Tower Ridge today was a lot easier than going up it would have been in the deep soft snow. Steep mixed routes are well rimed up, frozen and snowy. Icy mixed climbs such as Tower Face of the Comb and Stringfellow could be nice but there is a lot of soft snow on them too. The big gullies have some cornices on them.
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.