Saturday, 9 August 2014

Ruining the onsight - a day in Coire An Lochain

Looking around Coire an Lochain to No.1 Buttress,
Should have brought the skis!

Coire An Lochain, the slightly lesser known counterpart of the famous 'northern cories', plays host to some of the best summer and winter lines in the northern Cairngorms. It's more renowned for its winter routes, which are often hard and steep due to the compact nature of the rock, however many of these lines are of such remarkable quality they also make worth-while summer outings. So really, a days rock climbing here could be construed as blowing the winter onsight, assuming that you're concerned by such formalities!!

After an hour of battling through a strong head wind we arrived in the shadow of No. 4 Buttress high in the Coires western corner. Thankfully it wasn't that windy up there, but the temperature must have still been pretty low as I almost considered climbing with gloves on!

The first and main pitch of Prore (VS) with the great corner
of Savage Slit to the left

The first route we opted for was the classic and bold Prore (VS 4c) which climbs the hanging arĂȘte next to Savage Slit. Some interesting (and a little run out) face climbing soon see you at the top of the corner by the lower off. Rather than using this one we were advised to use one just round to the right which avoids getting your ropes stuck in the block filling chimney. Top notch advice as the abseil is a corker too!

Looking down the main pitch of Prore with Caelan seconding

Caelan of the airy abseil from the lower off, its a full 50m but luckily we had 60s!
The lenticular clouds behind spelling out whats coming our way.

After that we did the outstanding Fallout Corner (VS 4b). A cheeky first pitch gets you to a cosy belay below a roof. The following pitch is an absolute cracker and is a fantastic bit of climbing. A final pitch up the corner continuation and a small chimney sees you again at the lower off.

The first pitch of Fallout Corner (VS 4b)

Looking round the roof and up the main pitch of Fallout Corner (VS 4b)
with Caelan leading.

Some of the many pegs on one of the belays on Fallout Corner

The final route, and the most classic of all was Savage Slit (S). This huge 50m chimney is a bit scratched from people scrapping up it with axes and crampons but its still an outstanding climb. For a bit of a laugh we decided to take up a size 6 Camelot with us, which I'm delighted to report we managed to place twice! The climbers of old must be turning in their graves!

Caelan seconding the linked first pitch of Savage Slit (S) 

Caelan leading the second pitch, refusing to get inside the chimney!
What fun he is missing! 

The correct way to tackle a chimney!

So some classic rock routes sent, but some winter on-sights blown! After the final abseil back to the base the heavens opened. I guess we were just having to good a day!

Just as the rain comes with the successfully placed size 6!

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