Monday, 3 December 2012

Tales From the Crypt

In a fit of Kyrgyz nostalgia and early season psyche, plans were laid for Bradley to come north from the 'sunny' Lakes and for us to head to Glencoe to try the Daftest Route in Glencoe. (also known as The Second-Best Day Out in Glencoe or Crypt Route).

Optimism being what it is, I couldn't wait for the experience of camping in a car park in freezing conditions, getting up early, walking 2 and a half hours uphill then spending a few hours in a cold chimney before repeating the process in reverse. And this is supposed to be my day off...
But we gave it a bash. Bradley arrived in Paisley Friday evening and we headed north, Mx-5 bursting at the seams with gear.
Camp was set up in the luxurious car park at the base of the Bidean nam Bian walk in.
All was well and good until the alarm went off. Not long after I realised I was out of gas for the stove, and the seal on Bradley's multifuel perished (petrol slick visible in photo) so cold porridge and no coffee. D'oh.

The walk-in was fun*. From 600 m upwards we were presented with a 50 cm layer of unconsolidated snow over scree. Which was OK because we'd generously let another party go first and break trail.
Slog. Diamond and Church Door Buttresses up ahead. (photo: B Morrell)

By 12 we had reached to foot of the gully, and a short step of Scottish III which we soloed for some reason led to the base of the very daft route.
Basically, get in it, and go up. (Photo: B Morrell)

Me attempting to get in it and go up. (photo: B Morrell)
I got P1, which was some good old fashioned chimneying but with axes and crampons. Lots of solid axe hooks and back-and-footing in the steep and slightly snowy chimney certainly warms you up.
Under no circumstances should you bring a rucksack on this route.
Bradley seconding P1

A tricky start to P2 (best described as a dynamic shoulder barge) led into what can only be described as a passageway into the mountain. Some crawling and squeezing leads to another chimney, which is where the fun really begins Headtorch obligatory.
Not really what you expect with winter climbing (photo: B Morrell)
Knees, axe hooks, fist jams, swimming and the odd bellyflop brings one to The Squeeze.
The Squeeze is an orifice of the mountain not much wider than a toilet. To progress, one must remove one's helmet and perhpas coat and coax Mother Earth into delivering you into world once again through much grunting, kicking and swearing.
At this point it is advisable to put your axes through the hole first, saving you the fate that befell me - The knot on my axe leash got stuck, allowing me to et only one leg out of The Squeeze. I had no choice but to belay there and get Bradley to free me on his approach. I was then treated to this view.
Chamonix binman being delivered by the Petzl midwives

P4 is, of course, an offwidth. A dab hand at this sort of thing by now it wasn't too bad, while being the only bit on the route where you could probably actually fall out of it. Up through an arch and a short traverse leads to a block and the end of the route proper. ONe may continue to the top at one's discretion by means of Raeburn's Chimney; howeever it was dark, we were tired, and Bradley had tat left over from The Jyrg so we sacked it and abbed out. THe free hanging abseil through the arch in the dark back to the ground was spectacular.

And so endeth Crypt Route (V 6). The walk out was incredibly dark and uneventful, save of course me slipping on some ice, tumbling head over heels, and having a JOe SImpson-esque fall stopped short by the only tree for literally metres around. Yay.

Celebrations were duly undertaken at the Clachaig Inn, where we were treated to heat, the Wild Rover, Dirty Old Town and somebody arm wrestling a sheep some bagpipe music.

On Sunday my knees exploded and we had both turned into sore old men so no climbing was done. This was justified later by tales of only hard mixed lines being in, thus justifying laziness perfectly.

*the walk in was not in any way fun

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