|Date: 6th-12th June 2010
Submitted by: Alan Tees
The drive to Arrochar was uneventful, and the situation on our arrival, familiar. “Our climb tomorrow is up there somewhere” as we looked up in vain for any sign of the Cobbler. We camped at the forestry site at Ardgarten, on the shores of Loch Long, and just below our mountain. We coped with the midges by eating out, (June IS too late!) and had breakfast at the site café for the same reason.
The cloud was down and it had rained during the night, but as we headed up it began to lift, and by the time we got to the North Peak, it had cleared! Recess Route and Punsters Crack from the classic rock book were our objectives, six pitches in all. The first was a nice crack, and right hand edge of an offwidth, to a stance, and then there was a chimney (“Good old fashioned Chimney fare”, it said in the book). Bills summary was somewhat less complimentary, as he thrashed about, deep in it’s bowels! He had forgotten his rock shoes and was climbing in a sort of hybrid trainer in which he had little confidence*. Above, there was a traverse along a ledge, and two corners, (two pitches) described as V.diff, but definitely Severe in today’s terms. Nice, but not worth 3 stars we felt. It was pretty cold, time was getting on, and we had decided to head for Ft William that evening, so we left Punsters for another day. Camped Glen Nevis and the midges drove us to the Grog & Gruel! It wasn’t hard!
Bill wanted to do Route2 on Carn Dearg Buttress, but we had a lateish start, as Ben Nevis was still wreathed in cloud and rain, Bill wanted to shop for some proper rock shoes, and I was reluctant to leave the coffee shop! Eleven O’clock is late to be leaving for the Ben, but we made good time to the CIC, and plans changed to 1944 Route/Pinnacle Arete*** on Trident Buttress. This was somewhat further up than we anticipated, and I started off on the wrong line having to abandon a friend to get down, with my neck intact. Bad start! The correct line was found and followed, despite a poor route description, for four pitches. Pinnacle arête looked great and straightforward, but again time was getting on, and getting down the upper snow slopes from the plateau in rock shoes would be a problem, so we traversed off. Cooking in a blizzard of midges was interesting, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the heavens opened, and the campsite flooded. The forecast was good for Wednesday, so we decided to try Ardverikie wall.
Pishin down! Roads very wet on the way to Binnean Shuas, so we did plan B, turned back, and headed for Skye. Bill got a puncture fixed in Portree (new tyre actually) and the sun was shining in Glenbrittle. Nice breeze. We were cooking the haggis, and it dropped. A grey mist, (no, plague) rose from the grass and drove us to the sanctuary of our tents, where we stayed until the morning.
Glorious morning, but they were still there when we came out. Undeterred, we headed for higher ground and mercifully left the wee bastards behind. We took Cioch Gully to the upper terrace (scrambling, but for a nice chimney, and layback), and tackled “Integrity”, surely the best HS/Mild VS in these islands . Bill led the first, and best, pitch. There is often a queue at this route, but we got there first, before, well have you ever noticed that 9 out of 10 English climbers are called “Dive” and the other one Steve! (All right Dive? Yeah I’m belayed Steve). Alas the photographs! Those who know me, will barely raise an eyebrow when I disclose the fact that my camera came to grief on this climb. This time I was focussing on a breathtaking shot of Bill, when the wee hatch opened and my battery dropped out, bouncing spectacularly all the way down the Cioch slab. We descended down Eastern Gully, and when I indicated that I might keep an eye out for my battery, Bill’s derisive cackle echoed of the walls of the Corrie Lagan. Needle in a haystack, no chance finding a small black battery in this place! To his amazement, I found, well, most of it, exactly where I thought it might be, but it didn’t work. We left Skye in sunshine, and drove to Spean Bridge, camping in Inverroy. And Sho to Ardverikie Wall, (Christ I’m reading too many of Iain’s reports).
Away after 8.00, drove to near Creag Meagaidh, and Mountain biked in to the crag, -before any Dives could get there. Ardverikie Wall is an awesome slab, and six pitches of the best climbing, never above 4a, but beware the route description. It describes the upper pitches as being thin on gear, not true, but the second half of the second pitch is totally free of protection. I was getting drag and traversed off right in search of something (anything) finally finding a bush, off route, and what else did I find? A Camelot to replace the friend I left on 1944 route! (Bit seized, tho it looks new!) The drizzle continued to threaten, deterring four other climbers from starting, but it never really amounted to very much. What a wonderful route to celebrate Bill’s 76th birthday. No midgies that night (too caul) but we ate out anyway, and went home Saturday. Great trip!
*For Sale- Contact Bill
14 Jun 2010
Photos look great, can you put route name on them for future reference!
15 Jun 2010
My 77th birthday, in fact. The shoes for sale are La Sportiva Rock Jocks, size 7 - nice! Cheap too good home.