Sunday, 8 June 2008

Crypt, take 2!

Thurs 5th June '08 - Really can't quite believe I'm going to try this route again, but my curiosity has gotten the better of me and the chance to climb with an amazingly experienced and knowledgeable climber! Drove up to Glencoe to meet Andy at 10am and we set off up the familiar path up to Coire nam Beith. Once up there, we clambered up the scree/boulder slope and dumped our sacks at the bottom of the chossy gully. I wasn't too sure about leaving them up there instead of down below, but Andy didn't want to take his boots with him and was sure we could 'ab off afterwards. Andy led the 1st pitch and I followed a lot quicker than the 1st time round, now knowing where everything was, seemed a lot easier! I led the 2nd bit, up to the point where Chris and I were unsure of the time before. Andy took one look at the cleft that Chris had been trying and thought it looked dubious, so off he went for a look at the wee hole instead. It wasn't long before he was asking for slack, and then I was having to take in as he had to come back down. The upper 'squeeze' through the hole was far too tight for him to wear any gear whatsoever, or his helmet!! Not too long and it was my turn. The initial block, crack and chimney to get up to the stance where the hole is, was utterly desperate. At one point I had my right foot up high on a wee block jammed into a offwidthy/cracky bit, and my left thigh totally jammed into a crack on the other side of a larger block that I was trying to get past and over. I just couldn't figure out how to move any higher and frustration was getting the better of me! My memory is a bit hazy but I think I finally managed to move up by jamming a leg either side of the block and hugging it and just slowly udging upwards. By the time I got to the top, I was utterly knackered and my leg was feeling a tad bruised for my efforts! Andy had left all the gear and his helmet and torch on a wee ledge, and I was able to peer up through the tiny tunnel and hole and see him almost looking to be suspended in mid air by the belay, like a wee grinning, bearded gnome! He lowered a sling and krab to me and slowly I attached all his stuff, plus my stuff up through the tunnel and hole. Then it was my turn.................It was utterly hilarious! That one section of the climb, made the whole effort 2x over completely worth it! You had to go sideyways, facing the right, with both arms outstretched above you to squeeze up the tunnel and through the hole. Once your shoulders were through the hole, it was a case of blindly finding wee bits on the side wall to push yourself up with your feet. Slowly, slowly inching outwards, fantastic! Onto a big huge ledge back out on the open cliff face. Not over yet though! The next bit was supposed to be moderate climbing. In retrospect I guess it was pretty moderate-ish, but just damn awkward! Another udge needed! Then a very exposed indeed 'bad step' across a block and onto the supposed crux of the route, Raeburn's Chimney, a short pitch of severe (in the wet) shared with Flake Route. This chimney was pretty wet (it had been a drizzly morning and the clag had been down) It didn't feel like severe climbing though, in fact there was only one wee awkward move, but the holds were big all the way and it was quite nice and thoughtful. Then it was time for the abseil................................................Aaaaaaaaaaaarg, I do hate abseiling so!!! Andy had found a pinnacle of rock to abseil from, which I was rather dubious about at first, but, 'c'mon eh Sonya,' I kept telling myself, 'here is a man with over 30 years of mountaineering experience, and not just at a mediocre level either! You need to trust his judgement' Still dubious and having mental arguments with myself though, 'maybe I'll just refuse to 'ab, oh but then poor Andy will have to walk all the way back in his rockshoes. Hmmm, maybe he can 'ab and I can walk down' Oh FFS Sonj, get a grip woman and get on with damn abseil so we can get off the bloomin cliff!' lol! Usual mental chitchat over, we ab down. Andy goes 1st and then I follow. Near to the bottom and into the gully, I move over to the other side of Andy, but I swing too hard on the rope and dislodge a huge block, bout one and half times the size of my head. It partly boshes my hand, then bounces off my leg before dropping down into the gully below. 'Aaaaaaaaah ya B*ST*RD!!! f*ck f*ck f*ck, that was bloody sore!!!' My leg immediately begins to throb and then go numb. I get down into the gully, and weight my leg, it feels damn painful, but I can weight it, it's not broken, thank god!! So, we're both down in the gully now, in a small berschgrund, but it's steep, it's loose and it's slippy, just the kind of place I hate! Andy belays me to on top of the snow, across the snow slope and into the other side of the gully and then I belay him across. I get lowered down the snow slope and Andy scrambles down whilst I set up another abseil for the steep step in the lower gully. Back to the sacks, down the boulder/scree slope and back down to the car for about 9ish and off to crash in the Lagangarbh hut. Didn't find Chris' sling and my krab that we left a few weeks ago, someone else had been in to do the route and taken them, but they did leave a different sling lower down with a snap gate and I also found a lovely big daddy hex in the gully, fab gear find! Unfortunately it would seem that the block that fell whilst I was ab'ing, also hit my rope and it got cut through to the core, with a few of the core strands utterly torn through too. One of my 60m ropes is now a 45m rope :o( I daren't bare to think about what might have happened if the rope had been cut all the way through! A lesson learned to be more careful when traversing across during an abseil!

Fri 6th June - My hand feels pretty sore in the morning and I can't close my fist properly and there is swelling around where the fallen rock cut it but sure enough it loosens off enough to climb once I'm up and about. My leg still feels sore but not as bad as yesterday, though it's looking a lovely fetching colour of blue! Matches perfectly the bruising on my other leg thanks to yesterdays thrutching, lol! Andy has managed to persuade me to have a go on Spartan Slab down on Etive Slabs. I've always been wary of multipitch routes above severe, thinking I just won't have the stamina to keep climbing VS for that long, but I remind myself that it's not continuous 4c climbing all the way and that if I can manage to climb several VS single pitches in a day, then there is no reason why I can't climb several VS pitches on a multipitch route! And there is only 2 pitches out of the 5 that are 4c and 5a. It is utterly boiling during the walk up to the slabs and I'm tired on the walk in, hate the heat! Hoping that there is enough wind to keep the midgies at bay, thinking I should maybe tuck my trouser legs into my socks to keep off ticks, but can't be bothered. Finally we are there, this looks fun! I hmmm a little over the 1st pitch, it looks a wee bitty harder than 4a to me and I decide to give the rope to Andy to lead it. If it feels ok, I will lead the 2nd pitch. Kinda glad I didn't as the traverse on the 1st pitch was a bit hairy and def not 4a! There was nothing memorable about the 2nd pitch, and the 3rd pitch is the crux with the 5a overlap. Now that was hard!! Andy uses a knee, but still seems as calm and nonchalant as ever. Me? I have to aid the move, pah! It's bloody awkward as anything when you are 5 foot nothing and not flexible enough to lift your foot to above your shoulder! If I get right into the corner then I can reach up and jam into the crack with my right hand, but then I'm far too squeezed in to throw my leg up and over. I try to twist my hip in to give me more reach with my left hand but my elbow bashes against the other wall and I can't bend my left arm the wrong way at the elbow to reach the crack! I need to lean out to get my leg over, but when I lean out, I simply can't reach the crack with my hand, aaaaaaaarg!!!!!! There is an ominous looking cloud over the valley and the wind is picking up a little, signalling to me that it may start raining soon. Clip a sling into the gear above me, foot in the sling, stand up, pull on the gear and heave my leg over the overlap. It's still bloody hard work, even aiding the move!! The next belay is fabulous! A nice comfy(ish) ledge right on the edge of the slab, pretty exposed, nice! And the next pitch is fantastic! A wee traverse, then up a very delicate and just in balance slab and then up a thin crack, and just when the crack runs out, and you are balanced tenuously on pretty much nothing, a thank feck jug appears to the left, ace! Then it's over another wee step (easy) and onto the next belay. Another wee slabby bit and a wee scramble to the top. A diff (ish) step to downclimb (still on the rope thankyou, but it's fine) and it's a walk back to our sacks. My toes hurt so I walk the majority in ma socks! Back to water and chocolate and home made flapjack, mmm mmm mmm! Both of us forgot to take a camera so nae photos today. Drive up to Inverness (with a 20minute snooze stop outside Fort Augustus, I'm knackered!) to doss at Morven's house where I find I have managed to pick up 12 ticks!!!!! Little b*st*rds!! My legs look awful, covered in bruises and bites :o(

Sat 7th June - Up and away for a hill walk. We wanted to do the Five Sisters down Glen Sheil as neither of us had 'bagged' them but we wanted clear weather and views for these 2 munros. So, the plan was, if the weather was clear we'd go up them, but if it wasn't clear and the clag was down then we would do either A' Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire, or Carn Ghluasaid, Sgurr nan Conbhairean and Sail Chaorainn. Approaching Cluanie, the clag was down but there was smidgens of blue sky. We hmmd and hahed for a wee while but then decided to keep the 5 sisters for a day when it was guaranteed perfect weather and to go up Carn Ghluasaid and co, as they were the nearest. Half an hour into the walk up the hill, the clag lifted and the sun came up, blimmin typical! But we'd started now, and the 5sisters will be there for another day. Nice enough hills, will lovely views of the South Sheil ridge, over to Forcan ridge and the 5sisters. We could see the Ben away in the distance too, and across to the Glen Affric hills the other way. These are lovely hills. They all seem so close together so give the appearance of being quite mountainous. We did the 1st 2 hills, ditched our sacks, did the 3rd hill, came back to the sacks, traversed around the 2nd hill and back down to the car. 7 hrs on the hill, with lots of stops to admire the weather and views, munch grub and take photos.

A braw few days on the hill :o)

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