Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Penguins......


Pitch 4 of 8
The great conditions continue! Yesterday I was in the Northern Highlands climbing on Beinn Dearg, with my friend Chris. Beinn Dearg is a big, bulky mountain with plenty of dramatic corries. The classic climb there, and the one we were aiming for, is Penguin Gully III, 4 **** 350m. A 05:30 start from home near Inverness was decided upon, which worked perfectly----we were (just!) first onto the route. The route and corrie were busy (by Northern Highlands standards!) with two other teams behind us on the route and at least one other climbing elsewhere in the corrie. Temperatures started at -8 deg C in the morning, but with a 2 ½ hr approach we were soon warmed up! Eight long pitches of fantastic ice, snow-ice and neve followed—conditions were perfect. The first pitch was the hardest climbing, with good ice for picks (not so good for screws!), but the whole route was great climbing on squeaky, bomber snow and ice. Belays were decent and a mix of rock and ice-screws. Runners were few and far between on most pitches, but with the climbing straightforward that was OK. Emerging from the cold and shade of the NW face into the blue skies and wall-to-wall warm sunshine of the plateau was fabulous. Not a breath of wind, and only 14:15! A quick jaunt to the main summit of Beinn Dearg then the long trudge back, weary but totally content---a great climb, great weather and great company. The day wasn’t over though; the road to Inverness was closed by the police, meaning a huge detour back to Ullapool, then Elphin, Bonar Bridge, Tain and Inverness—4 hrs instead of 1 hr, with another delay as a lorry was pulled out of ditch on the singletrack road at Oykel. At least there was fish ‘n’ chips in Ullapool as the silver lining.......

The West Buttress of Beinn Dearg on the approach

Chris about to top out over the cornice

Not a bad day!

Stunning

Heading down





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