It's really nice to climb with John. A few years ago John came on one of our Winter Mountaineering Courses and we finished with a traverse of Aonach Eagach in sunshine and under blue skies. Today John climbed his first technical 6 route in the sunshine and under blue skies again! We went up to Church Door Buttress on Bidean nam Bian and climbed West Chimney Route, a really fun IV,6 with about a million chockstones.
John has climbed more ice than mixed routes so yesterday and today were all about getting to grips with mixed moves. Hooking cracks and chockstones is what you're going for and there is very little swinging of the ice axes. You need to read the rock and feel for hooks with your pick. Careful precision is the way to move and it makes for absorbing climbing. The crux of the route is a short very steep bulge of chockstones with super positive hooks and good protection. Don't hang around for long on it or your arms will give in!
We got to the arch and caught up with a couple of teams climbing Crypt Route with shouts and whoops as they emerged into open space from the bowels of the buttress. John and I opted for the abseil down from The Arch which is quite a scary ride down! 60m gets you onto the easy snow and it's important to have a look around the amazing rock architechture as you go down.
There is soft snow in Deep Cut Chimney and ice in Central Gully. Number Six Gully has ice low down and snow on the crux section. However the next few days of warmer weather will change things again. At least the snow in the gullies will consolidate!
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.