Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Boys in the Glen... (pt 2)

Sunday 7th Spet 2008: GLEN NEVIS

Sunday morning was sore head territory, so after packing our kit away, we headed to Morrison's for some breakfast (at least me and Ellis did, Neil was in no fit state for food!). Despite the locals being used to hill-weary climbers, we must have been an extra scary site, as the number of strange glances we got suggested we stood out. Maybe it was the smell of skin so soft, malt whisky and bonfire rolled into one pungent brew!

Anyway, we headed up the Glen, back to our parking space at the roadside, and spied our potential target buttress, hiding in trees no less than one hundred yards from the road. We left Neil in the car to sleep off the effects of exhaustion, dehydration and a stinking hangover in the car, making our way to pinnacle buttress, a seemingly featureless and uterly blank slab from the car. On closer inspection, it was an amazing site of interesting and delicate rock formations, making for very varied and interesting climbing.

I started on the classic route Pinnacle Ridge (Sev), one of the most popular, and possibly oldest routes in the Glen. Needles to say, the start was polished, but it was fairly easy and consistent slab climbing on the arete at the far left edge of the slab. Up through a tree belay, then along a large flake and up a small left facing corner, before the most enjoyable final section of shallow angled slabby climbing to the belay stance, located on the top of the ridge running along the buttress edge.

Top section of Pinaccle buttress, with climber taking hard slab finish on Pinnacle Ridge (Sev)

Once at the top, Ellis and I spotted another buttress, hidden in the trees behing us, no more than 20 yards away, so headed over and Ellis lead Pinnacle Plus (Diff) a nice but very polished crack line up the centre of the mini buttress. Once back down at the bottom of Pinnacle Butress, we looked for any decent climbs, but were limited with the guidebook we had which only had a small selection of the hundreds of routes in the glen.

Ellis chose to lead the variation start to Pinnacle Ridge, which is a weird off balance staircase, followed by a tenuous and balancy move to regain the original route 10m up. Just as we were about to set off Neil appeared, having fought his way through the jungle to the rockface, and he joined us climbing the route. Ellis caught the party above us, somewhere around halfway up the climb, so belayed us upto halfway and hung around for the party above to move up.

Neil 'manning up'

Ellis starting up the variation to Pinnacle Ridge

Neil heading up the stairs

At the belay, we rearranged things and Ellis lead up to the finish, before bring me and Neil up to the magnificent views down the glen. Whilst i was waiting on Neil finishing, i thought i had better capture the moment and get a self portrait with some decent scenery.

The boys at belay stance 2, Ellis ready to lead on

Me and the Glen...

Neil took my camera and scarpered up the final section ready to snap me completing the route. Back on to the fantastic and delicate sund soaked slab to finish. Wow, what a climb! Deserves 3 stars!!!

The view from the ridge-line belay

Me on final slab of pinnacle ridge

Determined to get one more route done, we headed over to the classic Three Pines (Sev), just 5 minutes up the hill. My lead, and looking at the start, it seemed to be a runout and rather featureless slab, so i improvised with a sling round a tree around 5 feet up. Not that it would have done me any good the next gear was around a further 10 feet up the slab. I felt i might as well have been soloing the route, until i reached the next section where the route changed character completely. From blanks slabs to super positive jugs and flakes up the left edge of an exposed arete, with the risk of slipping off down one side of the wall.

Thankfull there was a bit more gear, and i made my way up to the three pines that the route is named after. Once protected in the rocks around them, i moved into the crux which was a slightly overhanging corner which was super polished and once again, all climbing technique and grace went out the window. I squirmed and used the good old knee to wedge myself in before moving up and over to the belay. FEW, bit necky, but an amazing climb in amazing surroundings!

Neil came up, and made the crux look easy (I tell him it's his gangly arms and legs!), then Ellis worked his way up and was on top before i had a chance to get a picture. Congratulations all round, and Ellis got his camera out for a group shot at the top of the Crag looking down the Glen. Can't wait to see it!!!

Well done boys, and awesome weekend pulled from the grasp of disaster by a willingness to explore unfamiliar climbing grounds.

Just wish Dave and Phil could have made it, they would have been in their element!

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