Thursday, 4 September 2014

Clean Sweep

With autumn fast approaching and summers grip rapidly fading into falling leaves and early nights it was time to get in some last minute mountain craggin'. We arrived at the base of the sun-baked Hell's Lum with the sounds of clinking-metal ringing out around the glen - clearly we weren't the only ones to have this brain wave. A quick glance around Loch Avon confirmed this with dozens of tiny coloured specks littering all the major routes; The Needle, Steeple, Afterthought Arete, and of course our route, Clean Sweep. Since there was a few parties ahead of us we opted for a leisurely start. The beating sunshine roasting any midges that were foolish enough to make an appearance. Our route; Clean Sweep (VS 4c) is a classic rock tick and is probably the most popular summer rock route on the crag if not the whole valley.

Looking the water streaked Hell's Lum with on the first pitch of Clean Sweep (VS 4c)

The first pitch climbs the slabby lower section to a groove which bars entry to 'The Whaleback'. Some tough, but well protected moves quickly see you on the top of 'The Whaleback' and the spacious belay. The next pitch climbs across the fault Deep Cut Chimney and then up the cracks and grooves (which was more of a swim in today's conditions!) to below the impressive 3rd pitch corner. The 3rd pitch is an absolutely fantastic test of sustained bridging and subsequent jug pulling. The start is quite delicate but the climbing culminates in a tough pull through an overlap before the easier continuation crack is reached and followed to a belay beneath a gopping overhang.

The superb sustained crux corner of Clean Sweep

Dave finishing the hard section of the crux corner of Clean Sweep

With the slabs of the lower pitches far below the 4th pitch blasts up a steep groove on big holds, although the difficulties are short lived its quite a lively pitch! Hellfire Corner, a classic VS to the left had an actual waterfall running down it meaning when the wind temporarily changed direction you got a wee soaking! At this point the sunshine had long gone, and the absence of any wind only meant one thing - Midges!!! An army that would equal that of Napolian himself seemed to appear out of every grass or mud filled nook and crany and they clearly hadn't eaten so far this year!

Dave leading the surprisingly steep 4th pitch through the overlaps

The guide books seem to contrast as to the best finish on the last 2 pitches; Cairngorms SMC recommends up the trickling corner whilst Gary Latter reckons step down and around the arete and up. Since the corner had an actual waterfall running down it we opted for the 'Latter' of the two options! The traverse was wonderfully airy and all the holds were huge so I would defiantly recommend this way instead of the SMC alternative. A final easy pitch saw us over the top and into the last of the fading sunshine, a great end to a great summer. 

Sunshine in the Cairngorms, it doesn't get much better than this!

Looking down the last pitch with the bottom of the crag far below, an outstanding route!

No comments:

Post a Comment