Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dubh Loch Jan 4th 2014

I managed to kick off my winter season with a visit to the mighty Creag an Dubh Loch in the Southern Cairngorms with Ben Wilkinson. We weren't alone as fired by a photo of the first winter ascent of The Giant, thanks to unusually icy conditions and the gene pool of the Hawthorn family, several teams also fancied their chances on Saturday. In the end I'm not sure how many of those teams completed anything as temperatures were several degrees higher than predicted. We had brief dabble on Vapourizer, Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell's uber ice line that cuts through Vertigo Wall - unfortunately the ice was refusing to hold body weight or stay stuck to the wall. Instead Ben and I sneaked up Vertigo Wall (VII,7) in 3 pitches which lived up to it's reputation as one of Scotland's finest winter routes.

If you are considering a visit this week, there is a lot of ice but it needs a good solid freeze. There is also a lot of powder snow which has buried often unfrozen turf, plus the rock cracks are full of crudy ice - conditions are challenging but could pretty quickly turn superb or as quickly melt away. Such are the joys of Scottish winter climbing.

A continuous line of ice down The Giant waiting for a good freeze.
The line of Vapourizer again unclimbable on Saturday. Vertgo wall takes the left to right diagonal forming an X with Vapourizer.
A nice view of the 'mush icicle and tied off stubie belay on our final pitch.
Trying to master the 'art of pulling on axes without pulling' - I believe the true line of Vertigo Wall is some way to my left.
Two winter beauties.