Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend climbing: winter is here

I've been a bit jealous that over in Scotland, my old stomping ground, they have been having a great start to the season, with all sorts of routes - easy and hard, old and new - getting done. I last rock climbed in Finland two weeks ago and it snowed whilst Simon was trying to second the route, but then the weather has been pretty lousy since then, cold and rainy. Well, this week, the wind turned, we got 10 cms of wet snow and then it has been freezing since. Things are looking rather wintery.

How the bathroom floor should look like after a good winter weekend

I didn't think that there had been enough days of frost for any icefalls to be climbable yet, but I had an old mixed project (i.e. climb I have tried but fallen off finding it too hard in the past) in my mind. I had been contacted by Sari, Sheffield's hardest climbing Finn until her recent move back to Finland, who was looking for people to climb with and she was suitably enthusiastic (possibly naive!?) to get out there and see what things looked like.

Sari on the crux

The cliff was pretty snowy and there were surprising amounts of ice forming in various places - boding well for later winter and making me feel like my proposed line would pass even a Scottish mixed climbing ethics panel let alone a slack Euro one!

What you looking at? Me, retreating into standard winter hide-in-your-hood-mode.

I had a first go but didn't get too far before grinding to halt, then promptly popping off holding one ice tool in my slightly surprised hands and the other stuck in the crack some way above where I was now hanging.

Finding some gear...

Sari took over, quickly getting to my high point, dislodging my tool for me then carrying on putting in a sterling performance to top out, doing probably the first winter ascent of the climb (I've climbed some year ago in its much easier summer form). I managed to second the route cleanly, then it was home for tea and medals.

Heading for victory!

All in all, a good quick trip to start the season of hot aches and scaring yourself silly. As to the route itself, Sari and I couldn't agree: she thought it was technically easier than the Message, a route that she had had something of a minor epic on. I thought it was harder than the Message, having climbed that route in OK style but now having fallen off trying to lead this one twice! It's a funny old game, particularly considering when your common reference point is one small route about a thousand miles away in the Cairngorms.

1 comment:

Sari Nevala said...

Thank You Toby for showing me this place and photos came out good too! Next time it's your lead I believe! I suspect that we did the Message in very different conditions, and after hearing your stories from Scotland, I bet this sunday was just a little warm up for you for the winter coming!
= ) Sari