Another good weekends winter climbing.
Blea Water Gill, III
Yesterday, after a late-ish start we headed around to Haweswater to climb Blea Water Gill. Steph had been mad keen to climb this ever since she missed her chance last winter so with clear blue skies it was too good an opportunity to miss.
Climbing conditions on the east face above Blea Water are currently very good. Plenty of good water ice and the gullies are well filled with snow. There is still more than enough snow on the summit of High Street for ski touring. Blea Water Gill itself is in excellent nick, perhaps apart from the first chimney pitch which is looking very thin and containing quite a bit of brittle ice. Above this however there is plenty to go at with numerous lines.
Moss Ghyll IV,5 – Scafell
Today we headed around to Wasdale. It was snowing when we left home this morning and so we were forced to take the very long route all the way around the coast road to Ravenglass before cutting back in. All the mountain passes are currently closed and the fell road across from Ulpha, whilst open would have been no fun in this mornings snow.
The long walk-in from Wasdale Head saw us arriving in the snowy gloom beneath Centra Buttress, there were a few teams sorting themselves out beneath the bivi boulder but in general it was quiet. Not wanting to get stuck behind anyone, we charged up towards the traverse Ledge towards our chosen route – Moss Ghyll IV,5.
I ran the first two pitches together, a few airy moves traversing back into towards the gully line, but in general there was loads of good ice and frozen turf; the main problem was the epic amounts of clearing that was needed to be done to find any placements for protection and tools.
Looking back down pitches 1 & 2
Dan led the Cracked Wall pitch leading upto the giant chockstones, delicate and technical but uneventful other than the epicly large spindift avalanche which came roaring down the gully. Initially I thought Dan had fallen as heard the thunderous whoosh, but as I cowered for what seemed like an eternity in a white haze, I realised the ropes had not tightened so all must be ok.
Dan preparing to tackle the technical Cracked Wall on PItch 3
Above this was pitch 4 and the infamous Collie Step – wow, what a piece of climbing. Torqing with undercut holds in the roof I delicately stepped leftwards, my crampons skating around looking for purchase. Above my ice axes held in some delicate but solid ice.
Stepping out of the cave onto Collies Step
Teetering across the Wall
We finished as we had started, in the murk of falling snow. Dan making efficient work of the final pitch traversing up leftwards across the slabs to the rocky summit above.
Dan working up the grooves on the final pitch
A momentary glance at the compass and we were wandering down towards Broad Stand and after a short abseil we were at the col. Before long we would be home again.
The clouds finally lift as we pack away the climbing kit