Friday, 31 January 2014

Wild on the Ben, Even Plan G Didn't Fully Work

Despite the weather forecast, Matt and I were hopeful to get something done on the Ben.  We went with a number of plans and an open mind, so we would in theory not be too disappointed when things didn't come off.

The walk in was hard work straight into a strong wind, with even stronger gusts.  We were not too surprised to have the mountain to ourselves, but things were not that bad early on.  By the time we were walking under Carn Dearg the odd gust was moving you around, but aimed to find shelter on a number of route options.  Plan A looked a goer, so I started up the first pitch and all seemed well until 1/4 of the way up all the ice that is needed to climb the pitch was not there.  Gutted, I reversed and striped the pitch, it was discussion time.  There was a lot of snow around past Waterfall Gully, so plans B and C were out.  The amount of snow that had been and was still being moved, meant that Plans D to F seemed out, which only left our last option.  Even though neither of us has done any climbing this year (with the exception of a few work routes), we somehow came to the conclusion it was a good idea, despite not having a guide with the route in.
In to pitch 1

Matt following pitch 1
The weather had not kicked off fully yet and we where slightly sheltered.  So, as I started up the first pitch of Centurion VIII,8*** at nearly 10 am, it did still seem like a good idea.  Excellent, if steeper than expected climbing took me reasonably smoothly to the belay.  Matt then got stuck into the outstanding meaty 2nd pitch and dispatched it well.  During the time it took to do these 2 pitches the weather had started ming out.  Barely able to see Matt on the belay, getting battered by the wind, it was still somehow fun in a sick way.  undeterred by the increasingly poor weather I pressed on.  There is a short hard section at the start of pitch 3 when you go the  right way.  After spending a lot of time getting some runners, I finally committed through the steep technical moves and reached the easier ground.  Just in the process of sort my right foot out, and airborne! BOLLOCKS!!!!!  Committing to one axe to see my feet better and it rips out of a good placement, that I had ust pulled pretty hard on.

Matt involved on pitch 2
Looking down pitch 2

Steeo moves on pitch 3

After more discussion, we decided that someone was trying to tell us something and decided to bail.  After climbing back up and stripping the gear again, it is frustrating to have not finished the route. But the reality of the weather once we had come out of the corner to feel the full force of it, was very clear as we came back down.  On the bright side, we did some awesome climbing on a day you would think there was nothing to be done.  Maybe if we had started this when we first walked in, it would have been a different story.

Untitled from Adam Hughes on Vimeo.