Monday, 11 December 2017

The Jury's out....

I used to winter climb a little..... but I kind of 'retired' from it when I lived in England. On reflection this was for a few reasons, notably that there's a lot of suffering, type 2 fun and also I think I got sick of the 6-8 hour drive from England, nights sleeping in a car, before suffering all day on a route, then a ubiquitous other uncomfortable night and day, before the long drive home... And that was fun right!?!

And then there was the last time I winter climbed on the Ben when after the long drive etc we didn't actually complete a climb as it wasn't in condition, we bailed, had no time for another route as we'd been so slow on the approach and when we set off driving home my car turbo blew up and we had a 12 hour AA return journey home and a £3000 car bill.. yeah I think that's when I stopped winter climbing for a while.

Nice walk in
Then I discovered skiing and whenever it was snowy and I had the chance I opted to ski, which was great but included ditching a winter climbing trip/stay in the CIC hut to ski - sorry Shaw but the skiing was very good in Glenshee that particular weekend!

Many options
So after maybe 5 years of not winter climbing (that's a guess) last winter I did one winter route (Golden Oldie, II) with Shaw and it was brilliant fun. Because I prioritised skiing and last winter was a poor winter that was it and I didn't really think much more about it.

I was belaying honestly!

After 2 tech pitches Loz on easy ground
So I wasn't really sure if I'd do much winter climbing again but I live in the Highlands and winter is here! Whats a guy to do when Loz invites you out for climb!?

We headed to the Northern Corries on a beautiful cold day (-10) and climbed 'Ordinary Route - IV, 5' on Alladins Buttress. With fresh snow and little consolidation it was mixed climbing season.

topping out at sunset

The route was quite technical climbing (for me) with lots of hooking and torquing of the axes. Again there was suffering as I lost feeling in my feet and hands as Loz made meticulous progress on the first pitch searching for gear, and I felt like I was going to spew when I got the hot aches following the pitch, but yeah this was starting to be fun!

Another team topping out

Looking to a bare shelterstone crag
My pitch was technical but I was totally absorbed in the climbing and loved every meter of it! Loz said that he could hear me talking to myself the whole pitch, not sure what I was saying! We topped out as the sun was setting (we'd had a leisurely morning start) and it was beautiful and clear.

Down we go
Being on the plateau in the evening light after a day in an icy corner system was magical and we savoured it as we headed back dropping down into the ski area. So now I'm confused, because I loved the winter climb, how will I now choose between skiing and winter climbing...?!

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