Stob Coire nan Looseblock was looking pretty grim too, so it was a real surprise to find the icefalls and gullies of Aonach Dubh complete just down the road (even Elliot's Downfall was touching down- just). Guidebook-less, we used our advanced numeracy skills and worked out where No.6 Gully (IV,4) was. We then raced a couple of English guys to the start, as a long Conga line of multi- nationals followed behind. No.6 was in very good nick and we romped it to the top, well before the Clachaig started serving beer. A great route, but what to do now?
|Me leading the crux of No.6 Gully- (photo Andy Clark)|
The party behind us had given a heads-up that Deep Cut Chimney was out of nick, so we binned that idea and headed back down and got on The Screen (IV,5). Naebody else was on it, it looked a bit harder but that was fine as it was Andy's lead.
|Andy on the approach to The Screen|
'Come on Andy, get on with it, they're bomber- I've fallen onto a stubby before!', I thought. This was ridiculous!
Andy remained established and after a further period of establishment I felt the need to utilise my belay jaiket.
Eventually, movement did occur and Andy shouted 'Safe'.
|Andy leading the crux of The Screen|
Belaying provides boundless opportunities for unfounded bravado and, sure enough, this was the case here. In contrast to the appearances from terra firma, the 'easy' bits were very steep. And the long steeper bits were basically full- on vertical. Add a horrible, detached, crusty hollow section around the half way mark to the mix and I could suddenly see exactly why he had remained 'established' as long as he did.
The fact he remained established at all was pretty remarkable.
It was bold and really quite hard. V,5 on the day, but nails and necky V,5 at that. A great lead and quite a humbling second for me!
|Bidean and Stob Coire nam Beith|