UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
I had climbed the Cold Climb route No.6 Gully, on Aonach Dubh, on Saturday, but the ice then was a bit cruddy in places, and needed a good freeze… Well, it’s now frozen solid, and even better to climb! I was out with Justin again, for West Coast Mountain Guides, and we left a clear Fort William, to find Glencoe experiencing some rather more wintery weather at sea level. That said, our objective, No. 6 Gully, is reasonably low on the west face of Aonach Dubh, and so partially sheltered from the falling snow and fresh easterly winds.
The reason I’ve titled this post ‘All the way’ is because both times I’ve climbed No.6 Gully in the past, I’ve had to miss out the incomplete first pitch, however, today a thin sliver of ice in the back of the initial groove was just about complete and gave some great, if delicate climbing to reach the base of the wider and far more complete ice fall of the second pitch. The rest of the route was in great condition, with the ice mostly taking first time axe placements.
Justin’s eyes seemed to be on stalks everytime he approached the belays, but he assured me that he was enjoying himself (mostly), and we were able to focus on his movement on steeper ice, and trying to displace as little ice as possible, particularly when the ice offered good features on which to place crampons on and hooks in which to place axes. Throughout the day, there was a fair bit of spindrift being blown in all directions. Thanks to the guy soloing and to Kenny and his client, who were ahead of us, for digging away stances and putting in some footsteps!