Saturday, 11 January 2014

Lochnagar, Black Spout Buttress, III?, 5

At last I finally got out today! I headed to Lochnagar with Alex Kelly. Lot's of teams out today having a go at the likes of Eagle Ridge etc. The snow pack on the approach is absolutely solid Neve but as we approached we had a hunch that things might be a bit different. We decided to play it safe and decided on Black Spout Buttress. A grade III with a techy 5. Alex had done it in summer and reckoned it was a good choice for today.

The conditions were very very variable, from ok placements to absolute useless crud most of the time which made progress very hard work. There are a few tech bits on the route which made things very tricky indeed. A chimney with hard and dodgy placements, then a 5m wall (crux), sure it was bigger than that. Fortunately Alex made great work of leading these, but the crux took an absolute age to protect and climb reasonably safely. (Actually nothing felt that safe today). We then avoided the upper 10m wall with a very very precarious traverse right. Much harder than the guide book suggests. From there on it was more crud with some reasonable placements to the top. Felt very much harder than III to me but still a fine route and a great start to the season for me.

Southern Sector

Central, Shadow, Parallel Buttress

Tough-Brown Face, Black Spout & West Buttress

Black Spout & West Buttress

Black Spout Avalanche debris

Lots more Avalanche debris

Alex on pitch 1

Alex on Pitch 2