Sunday, 1 June 2008


Up at ridiculous o'clock to drive up to Chris' hoose for 6am (yawn!) and then off to Aviemore. Plan was to walk over to the Loch Avon Basin and do a route there and then drop down into Coire an Lochain and hopefully do Savage Slit, another route high on my 'tick' list. Arrived at the carpark to find it pretty much deserted, where were all the keen climbers I had been expecting? Brill for us though and a change of plan saw us walking in to do Savage Slit 1st. Like last weekend there was still a fair bit of snow around the base of the cliff. There was a huge headwall of snow above the Great Slab (how amazing would it be to see the whole slab go?(from a distance!)) Big huuuuuuuuuge blocks of old avalanche debris at the bottom of the slab. Chris had a rummage about for gear and found a screwgate, no axes though, lol! We scrambled up to the right of the snow, crossed the wee snow patch on the right and got up to the bottom of the cliff without any difficulty. Wow, looked amazing and not as steep as I had thought. I led the 1st bitty, and found the moderate section to the bottom of the corner a bitty on the awkward side (not used to the Cairngorm granite at all!) Nice climbing up the 1st proper pitch, lots of bridging, pretty thuggy and sustained but with very good rests between each bit. We had a couple behind us but it was all pretty relaxed (though they did look a bitty cold waiting for me to set up the belay, and for Chris leading off) Next, the crack widens into a cleft (aaaaarg, more cleftyness!) Chris had placed a bit of gear in the cleft and my sack was preventing me from getting in, but after going in frontways I managed a very secure hip jam to get the gear out. An awkward udge and a good rest, then an utterly sensational move onto the top of the crack with the whole of the route underneath my legs, fantastic! Then it was up a bit of a chossy gully, a wee bulgy wall to pull over and job done :o) Bite to eat and then a walk along to the descent down to the Loch Avon Basin. We didn't really have time to do the route I wanted to do, a V.Diff called Tennements on Stag Rocks so went down to Stac an Faraidh instead to look at the shorter slab routes there. The descent had a snowy headwall, hmmm, looked a bit dodgy, so we scrambled down and round the side of that, through steep grass and heather and down to the bottom of the slabs. Here were all the other climbers! Seemed to be a few parties out on the VS's to the left. We found the two, 2 pitch severes and the Diff and decided on a 2star severe called Linden. The other severe looked to be too wet and seepy but our route looked to avoid all the wet patches. Did I want to lead the 1st pitch? Hmmm, friction climbing? Nae gear, hmmm????? Ach stop thinking too much and just get on the damn thing!! Well, after a spot of gardening, I managed to get in a bit of gear in the crack to the right of the arete at the start of the route. Next came the pure friction climbing bit, oh feck that gear is miles away now, concentrate, get your balance right, look there's a wee crystal you can weight that fine and I'm up onto a wee ledge, woohoo! Next bit is easy and then I'm up and below a steeper section and oh arse, it's wet!!! Manage to get a bit of gear in here thankfully, clean up shoes and hands as best I can and go for it, nae probs, a bit more easy angled slab padding and I'm at the belay. The next pitch looks grim and I don't envy Chris! He groans when he sees what is next. What we thought was dry, in reality wasn't, far from it! There was a massive wet streak running down the layback flake/crack that formed the start of the next pitch. Nothing to do though but go for it! I'm very impressed with Chris, he threw gear in the crack and made his way up with just a wee heart stopping moment when his foot slipped a little! But next was the crux, pulling over onto a block, then up a very steep crack and corner. Shouldn't really pose much of a problem apart from the fact that it is utterly soaking and the crack is oozing out green,wet slime!!! Chris takes his time over this bit, gets a couple bits of good gear in, takes an age to go for it but eventually gets up there, only to realise it aint over yet!! More slimey slab to get up and over but the angle has eased off and he can traverse round the worst of it. Out of my sight now and he's taking an age to set up a belay and I'm getting paranoid that the belay is gonna be crap, I'm gonna fall, we're gonna get hurt bad, blah blah you get the picture! 'Safe' eventually! and it's my turn, eeeeek! The layback crack is fine, and even in the wet the friction of the granite crystals is sufficient enough for me (easy to say that with a rope above though!) But my god, the top crack is minging, utterly utterly minging! The water soaks my rockshoes, it runs down my sleeve as I try to get out gear!!! I can't reach the fecking hex placement and have to sit on the rope to get it out and even more water runs down my sleeve to the point where my jacket arms are soaked! Bugger this for a malarky I think, and ethics and style forgotten I pull on the bit of gear, aiding over the bulge and land with a graceful (not) belly flop onto the sloping ledge above, completely soaking my trousers! After much gurning and skin scraping udges I manage to get back on my feet and lots of swearing ensues!! The slabby bit seems a relief after that, but not as much of a relief to be at the top and off the damn route, which has to be the most evil route I've ever had the (dis)pleasure to do! (but it's all character building right??) The walk back up to Fiacaill Coire Cas seems to take forever, uphill at this stage in the game is just not on! Then it's downhill to the car. 14hrs on the hill and I'm gubbed!! Find a spot to camp just off the side of the road down in the valley, bite to eat and I'm out for the count! Up at 6.30am the next day and a drive down the Morray Coast to Redhythe Point where neither of us have climbed before, and neither of us probably ever will after finding it pretty uninspiring. Back in the car and down to Meikle Partans. Where is the sun? The haar is in and it's cold and windy and neither of us feels very motivated to climb afters yesterdays adventure! But........we feel like we have to do something seen as we are here, so I lead a V.Diff I've never done called The Riff, no stars but I felt it deserved one! It's got a pretty awkard and steep start for a V.Diff and I really enjoyed it, one of the nicest V.Diffs I've done infact! Then Chris led Constellation which is one of the nicest severes on the coast I reckon and then we called it a day, knackered but happy.


ChrisWilson said...

Hi Sonya,

Really like the blog. Your write up of the wet pitch on linden brings back the full horror of that lead in technicolour.

A great day!


Sonya said...

Cheers Chris. I was very impressed with your lead, it's amazing what one can do when in extremis, lol!