Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Same old Sneachda

Some rare sunshine in the Northern Cories
A few evenings ago some fine evening sunshine lured me back into Coire an t'Sneachda. The last time I climbed there on an evening after work it was lovely and sunny (and sweaty!) on the walk-in but it was raining by the time fingers touched rock. This time I was hoping it would be different!

The first pitch of Damnation
Our target was a fantastic looking corner we'd seen when abseiling off The Magic Crack (HVS 5a) on Aladdin's Buttress called Damnation (HVS/E1 5b - depending what guide you look in!). The start was clambering over slabs and up corners which Caelen swarmed up which put us directly below the corner. This is where he had a chat with two guys on an adjacent climb who didn't know what route they were on but decided it should be called 'epic' which was comforting..

Moving up towards the sweeping corner on the second pitch

From the belay you can see the initial slab and groove but the steep corner remained up and out of sight. It looked pretty dry and only have one or two wet bits so I decided to give it a go (not noticing the sun had vanished from the sky at that point). After 20m of climbing in the groove you reach the corner and then the fight begins. After a move or two you end up just above a rusty peg. Some hard moves using mud filled holds and 'yarding on slopers' sees you through the hard bit and eventually the top. Excellent!

Looking up the crux corner of Damnation
Shortly after getting to the top in characteristic Scottish style the heavens opened so we decided to abseil off. Some how, the ropes got stuck, and what ensued was an hour of desperate effort in the pouring rain before they eventually yielded and we got down and back to the car. Totally soaked. Same old Sneachda 

The Swords of Gideon

Spent the weekend over on The Applecross Peninsula. The tiny village of Applecross itself is tucked away on the far side of the highest mountain pass in the UK just about clinging to existence. Its on of the most stunning drives you'll find anywhere in the world (that must explain the hordes of bikers at least!).

Looking out from the south side of Sgurr a'Chaorachain
As far as climbing is concerned the centre-piece is the Cioch Nose on Sgurr a'Chaorachain. This huge VDiff is a massive undertaking and defiantly on the bucket list! Instead we opted for something a bit quicker and did the Tom Patey classic - Swords of Gideon. This 5 pitch mountain VS is rather unusual as it may sit at an altitude of 600m but is in fact only a 5 minute walk from the road!

Just after the 'delicate' traverse on the second pitch
The central pitches are absolutely fantastic and you wouldn't feel short changed even if you had walked the normal amount for a route of similar situation and character! Definatly worth the minor detour if you have time (and the weather!).

The crag in all its glory showing just how close to the road it is!

Applecross on a sunny day looking towards the Black Cullin