Tuesday, 5 March 2013

High Fives!

Making the most of the stunning weather and climbing conditions on Friday Davie and I headed high on the Ben to the Indicator Wall area. These climbs start at 1200m but are often in good condition and are well worth the long walk in. After both of us climbing Point Five separately last week, we were keen to try another grade V so decided on Indicator Wall itself (V,4). An exposed traverse underneath the wall saw us at the start of the route.

Good view of Gardyloo Buttress and Smith's route

 No rock gear in sight, we settles for a 3 screw belay. Davie took the lead and headed up the iced up chimney of the first pitch. The climbing was great fun, never too steep but certainly enjoyable. At the belay for the top of pitch one, some screws would have been handy but all of ours had been used as runners and on the first belay!

 Some creative thinking and digging by Davie produced an adequate belay and I headed off on pitch two. This was great fun and suddenly the sense of exposure became apparent as I looked down at my feet and could see the bottom of Observatory gully!
Pitch 2
A nice icy bulge finished the hard climbing and we got a chance to enjoy the stunning situation.

 We headed up the right hand finish at around IV,4 to top out in bright sun. The summit trig point was used as is tradition for the belay, ending a fantastic route!

Highest Belay in the UK!

 Yesterday Davie and I headed up to Zero Gully (V,4). Both of us knew of the fairly serious reputation this route had but with a lot of ascents this season and good conditions we thought this would be the time to try it!
We geared up just below the first pitch which looked deceivingly easy until actually on it at which point it seemed to get steeper and steeper!

View down pitch 1
Still, the climbing was steady and although I don't think I would have trusted any of the Ice screw runners to hold, the axe placements were very good. I brought Davie up on a reasonable spike belay and he took the lead for pitch two.
Past the sketchy moves on the traverse

This starts with a very delicate traverse to the right to regain the gully. Some detached ice and lack of axe placements certainly reminded us of why this was a serious climb but Davie soon regained the gully and headed up to enjoy the luxury of good ice. This was a fantastic lead from Davie as the pitch was both steep and sustained, a  very good effort!

Davie getting stuck into the second pitch
The rest of the route is quite similar to point five, with mainly grade II ground and the odd  short ice step of about tech 3 thrown in now and again.

We bumped into Mike and his clients who had just climber Vade Mecum next to Hadrian's Wall so a social couple of pitches lead us out at the summit. Another smashing day on a classic route on the Ben!