Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Just back from another great trip with Greg. This time we headed to Lochnagar, intent on a particular route. Unfortunately that didn't all go to plan, but the climbing we did and the consolation route were easily equal to anything i was expecting of the day.

Neither of us had been to Lochnagar before, so it was another fully "onsight" day. An icy drive, dodging deer rabbits and ptarmigan up Glen Muick saw us bedded down in Greg's car at the road head.
       We timed the walk in pretty well, as it was just getting light when we dropped down from the col in to the corrie. "Crazy Sorrow", which goes through a large overlap on the Tough-Brown face was quickly identified and we started to brake a trail in its direction.
A spacious car, the key to a good Scottish winter.

I must say i wasn't particularly impressed with the line. Mullin obviously wanted to find a roof that he could monkey over on axes - there's nothing wrong with that! -  but there seemed to be far better lines on the face. With this in mind, i thought it would be cool to climb a more direct start to the route, adding some climbing and line. A slither of ice visible halfway up the initial slab gave me something to aim for, and resulted in a brilliant, delicate pitch of bold 7.

On the first pitch, reaching the ice after some thin moves.

Greg pulled up to the roof on pitch two and started to work out the moves. There was clearly going to be a lot of luck involved in the sequence, the kind of thing that you can get right or get wrong, and if you get it wrong you'd be very lucky to stay on. After some climbing up and down, he committed and took a small fall on to the bomber peg, which is at waist height.
     After a couple more looks, combined with myself leaning out to see above on the slab, we concurred that there was zero ice on the slab above, which is clearly visible in photos we'd seen of Pete and Guy's ascent, which was the first true ascent. With this evidently being a crucial condition needed for this pitch (and by the sounds of it the next one also), we decided to rap off and go find something else to climb.

Eyeing up pitch 2.

     After a short flick through the guide, we searched for a fun sounding route nearby. "Scarface Wall" fitted the bill and we set off up Raeburn's to find it.
      The route was great, but not straightforward, with huge amounts of snow. After a quick "Rock Paper Scissors" i took pitch one, tenuous climbing on bad gear. Greg took the next pitch, which had a pull on to a ledge that led to a thin move in to the next groove.

Pitch 1 of  Scarface Wall VIII 8, lots of annoying snow stuck to this pitch!

Pitch 2, a steep pull on to the snowy ledge on the left, which is then traversed.
     I then took pitch three, which was an awkward diagonal crack, with a scary loose block at the top (extra scary when you hook both sides of it and it starts to lever off!). 
      At this point, with all the independent pitches done, and where our route joined another, we decided to rap in to Raeburns and down climb that, so we could get back to our bags swiftly.

Another great day! i thought Lochnagar as a crag was awesome, with a pretty mellow approach. I remember reading about Eagle Ridge in cold climbs when i was younger, and ever since then Lochnagar stuck in my mind as a seminal Scottish cliff. I'm pleased i've now been there.
           Its getting soggy and warm over the next few days, so i've headed south to Cumbria, where i'll be for Christmas, working when i can, and training (and eating and drinking) when i can't! Mega psyched for more Scottish action in January!

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