Tuesday, 27 May 2008

GLENCOE - Sat 24th May '08

we went up to do Crypt Route, tis a route I've wanted to do since I read classic rock when I first started climbing, but have had nobody to do it with, cos the usual response is, 'I'm a climber,not a caver' Anyway, had a braw day! Got to glencoe about 10ish and started the 2 and half hour trudge up to the route. There is a boulder/scree slope on approach which was horrendous, then we had to deal with a snow slope. Thankfully, that was soft so I could kick steps into it (I only had soft walking boots on) Then we had a berschgrund (sp?) to deal with which was nearly 10ft in places. Then there was the approach to the bottom of the route up a minging, loose gully and then a scramble up a minging loose groove/wall bitty, yeuch! Chris led the 1st pitch which was very 'traditional' V.Diff style climbing. Everything was there (once you found it!) but it was pretty strenuous and steep climbing. The chimney got harder about half way up and up Chris was up and down a few times. Then he said, 'I'm just gonna try and wedge myself in this crack bit here' and promptly disappeared from view. Much ooohing and aaaaahing came from Chris, he had found the route and cave! I was dying to get up there and see it. It took him a while to set up a belay in the half dark, and then it took me ages to climb the 1st pitch. I had to climb up onto a ledge, take the rucksack off, get my rockshoes on, and get the rucksack back on again, not easy in a chimney! Finally got to the cave and wow wow wow, tis amazing! I led the next pitch, down the corridor of the cave, across a gaping hole in the floor with fell down about 10foot into another chamber, then up another chimney and over a chockstone above the hole in the floor, so a big drop below at this point. big holds all the way here, and it was lovely. Then I got to a window and there was a vertical drop down the cliff face here, very exposed! But this is where it went all pear shaped, I couldn't understand where to go next. Through the window and across a bad step there was a grassy ledge with a block with tat on it, or there was a ramp leading up into another corridor to what looked like a dead end. I was shuffling forwards and backwards unable to make up my mind where to go. Then remembered that back down below before I started going upwards, that you could cross a chockstone blocking the corridor so I thought maybe the route went that way. Next came a downclimb of what I'd just done, crossing the chockstone was fun (not) and that involved a dead end of fallen boulders (think I had found the no longer existing Tunnel route) So, it was back up again. Got to my previous high point, decided that going through the window wasn't right as it looked too vertical and hard for V.Diff territory, so continued round and up the ramp, which was exciting! Found crampon scratches so felt confident again that I was on the right track. But then, hmmmm, where the feck does the route go now and it was getting darker and darker. Decided that if I continued there would be too much rope drag as I had turned 2 corners already, so got a stonking belay and brought Chris up. Guidebook came up and trying to make head or tail of the route descriptions was impossible! chris wasn't keen on going back and out through the window either, so eventually after much discussion he tried going up this VERY narrow cleft. He went right into the back of it as there was a crack there for gear, but got a bit spooked and came back out. Went up and down a few times and then went for it. he had to udge up the back of the cleft, for about 10ish m, then grab a ledge and hand traverse across, still wedged in the cleft, to grab hold of a chockstone at the front of the top of the cleft and then hold that to swing out of the chimney and onto the main cliff. Once you step off a ledge and into the cleft, there is a drop all the way down the chimney, right down to the very bottom chamber through the hole in the floor below. Once you were wedged in high up, if you fell, I think you would just jam in but it must have been pretty unerving! I was certainly glad that Chris was leading that bit and not me! Anyway, chris got up to the ledge, and discovered there was a wee tight platform up there, dunno if that was the Gallery variation we had found but he didn’t want to commit to the hand traverse (don't blame him, it looked terrifying, and we still weren't sure whether we were on route here) So, he came back down and we deliberated on what to do. Chris tried another option that we hadn't even noticed at first! One of my belay anchors was a thread through a chockstone and I had checked, with much difficulty past the chockstone to see if there was a way through, but it seemed a dead end. But, chris crossed the chockstone and went up, standing on it and could see a small hole. I had a nosey, but the hole looked tiny, far too small for the rucksack surely (which in retrospect was a bad idea even taking in the first place!) Chris went further up for a nosey and reckoned it was maybe doable, but he was a little hesitant of going further into the bowels of the cliff if it wasn't the right way, and getting stuck/lost etc (mind you, we seemed pretty lost anyway!) I just happened to ask what the time was and chris checked his watch. NO WAY, it was 6 o’clock!!!!! How the hell could it be that late!!!?? Had we really got so lost, and faffed so much :o( Anyway, after a lot of deliberation, we decided that under the circumstances and cos we weren't entirely sure if going through that hole would go, we decided to bail out. So, we had to downclimb back down the ramp, which was a bitty scary, then set up an abseil. There was a fair bit of old tat here (I wonder if many parties had made the same decision as us, after getting hopelessly lost!) Took about an hour to set up the abseil, double check and tripple check it. I got a major bout of paranoia about the tat and decided to sacrifice a sling and crab around a block so things were doubley safe. Whole setting up and ab’ing down took about an hour. Then we set up another ab, and ab'd down the yucky gully, across the berschgrund and down the snow slope. Back down the slippy scree slope and back to the other rucksack. Stopped for a breather and some food and water, then down we went, running down the hill once we had got to the better path. Got back to the car at pretty much bang on 10 o'clock. I had forgot that the car was parked ages away too, cos there was roadworks at the Coire nam Beith layby, so that was a bit of a groan after a long day! Anyway, pretty much bang on 12hrs on the hill, for a fecking backed off of, V.Diff, oh the shame! But what an adventurous day, encountering all sorts of mountaineeringy things, was fab! And after doing a bit of research I think the route did go through that hole we found, so I'll need to go back and finish the route at some point (but not this season, I'll be happy if I never see another chimney again at the mo,lol!)


Adam said...

Remind me not to do that route!

It looks like something out of lord of the rings!!!

ChrisWilson said...

I think thats the only photo you will ever see of me caving!
Letm know where the route ges when you do it again. Can you leave a trail?


PS I thought I told you not to mention how long it took us to nearly finish a vdiff!

Sonya said...

Oh but it's a fun and adventurous route, something a bit different, lol!

Haha, sorry Chris!
I'll leave a trail of homemade flapjack pieces or peanuts, take your pick?