UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
It seems almost ironic that despite being plunged back into mid-winter overnight, today was my last day of work this winter season. Still, all good things…
Having been out quite a bit over the past few days, and having seen things close up yesterday, I made last minute plans with Mike, who I had been out with a couple of weeks ago on Vanishing Gully. Mike was after some further mileage on steep ice, and having been into Observatory Gully yesterday and see the state of the ice first hand, I felt that we would find just what he was after, but, having caught wind that the CIC Hut was fully booked last night, I was keen to find some steep ice that was less likely to be on everyone’s radars (Smiths, Hadrian’s, Indicator, Point 5 etc.), so I scanned through a few photos of Coire na Ciste that I had taken over the past few days, and one thing stood out… The fat, blue icefall of The Gutter. Having heard that there were a number of variations available, we made our way up to it.
The initial pitch of Glovers was ok, although a bit mushy pulling onto the easier angled snow slope above the first icefall. We soon found ourselves at the foot of the brilliantly blue icefall of The Gutter, which looked to be in fantastic condition. It was. Mike felt it was more sustained than the crux icefall of Vanishing Gully, and required a bit more thought. I too, am not sure that IV,4 is the right grade, perhaps more like IV/V,5 today. Anyway regardless of the grade, it was good fun.
We then finished off on a line parallel to Tower Ridge, which took in a couple more short icy steps before gaining the plateau. Conditions throughout the day were quite wild, with plenty of spindrift pouring down, which was quite a contrast to the last few days!
So that’s it, what has been a fantastic and varied winter is now over for another year, thanks to all those that have employed us, worked for us, walked with us and shared a rope with us! We’re off to the Alps on Monday for some ski touring, can’t wait!