Testing the Limits of Soft Shell
Alan Halewood was free to climb with so we headed in to have a look at what was safe and possible during this slight thaw and mild conditions.
As we walked in the ice in the Castle Coire was so obvious that we went to Compression Crack. we solo’ed up to the foot of the first steep ice pitch for me to take the first lead of the day.
The second pitch traversed right to a line of what we saw from below as the upper white pitch, it looked very thin and bits were falling off. So we abseiled off some in situ gear into South Castle Gully, and climbed this to the top.
We dropped down No. 4 Gully into Coire na Ciste. Roger and his team were on No.3 Gully Buttress and another party were starting up Glover’s Chimney. We dropped down into the gorge beneath the Garadh to the pitch of ice Al saw 2 days ago.
To say it was wet was an understatement… Al had water running in through his face and shoulders down through his shorts and over flowing his boots, there were 2 little water fall coming off his crampons! it was like being in a shower… wearing a softshell.
At the top Al placed a final screw before heading to the belay, when it was half way in the water pressure behind it drove the core out into his face leaving a jet like a water fountain. When I arrived and had calmed my laughter it provided a great sauce of water to drink from.
One party summed things up nicely by saying they backed off Green Gully as the ice on the first pitch had the consistency of butter… and it was that wet all the way to the summit.
There is still a lot of snow in the gully’s and the upper ice falls are still holding their ice despite the water flowing on top of them.
I am updating this in Mambo’s using my iPad and I am unable to upload photo’s to Picassa until I get home.
Have a look at Al’s Blog for photo’s and video
or see below