Ledge Route

Ledge Route was on my winter ticklist so I was pretty chuffed when Alan Kimber from West Coast Mountain Guides suggested on the Saturday that it would be a likely route for Sunday. The weather was great all weekend long and after a great Saturday on Stob Dearg we arrived at the car park around 0900 ready for the walk upto the CIC Hut. We would have been a bit earlier had I not been late to Alan’s place (I forgot my water, what a numpty).  We made good time and geared up at the hut. We then proceeded to the bottom of the route, not lingering in number 5 gully and roped up on the bottom of the pitch just out of the gully. I led with Alan soloing ahead and placing gear. The first two pitches were dispatched easily and once we’d gained the ridge proper we began to move together over the much easier ground leading to the top of Ben Nevis.  I did find that I was a bit faster than Wendy and Kesia when moving together, leading to a few points when I had to wait mid move for the two ladies.  I ought to have been a better and less grumpy gentleman.  We didn’t summit as we topped out about 1400 and faced with a couple of hours walk back to the car we decided to head back down straight away. We were treated to another stunning sunset while we walked off and back down to the car. Eventually arriving back at the car as the sun was just disappearing. Below is a photo from the route, by Alan.

Photo copyright Alan Kimber

Photo copyright Alan Kimber

Alan was kind enough to lend me his Paramo Velez Light smock which I found to be a rather good jacket and has made it’s way firmly onto my list of kit to buy.  It was nice and warm with great venting.  I think it’ll go well with a pair of Aspira Salopettes for general winter climbing.  Thanks to Alan for great course and for Wendy and Kesia for putting up with my endless pulling on the rope.  More pictures can be found on Alan’s blog.

Ledge Route was on my winter ticklist so I was pretty chuffed when Alan suggested on the Saturday that it would be a likely route for Sunday. The weather was great all weekend long and after a great Saturday on Stob Dearg we arrived at the car park around 0900 ready for the walk upto the CIC Hut. We made good time and geared up at the hut. We then proceeded to the bottom of the route, not lingering in number 5 gully and roped up on the bottom of the pitch just out of the gully. I led with Alan soloing ahead and placing gear. The first two pitches were dispatched easily and once we’d gained the ridge proper we began to move together over the much easier ground leading to the top of Ben Nevis. We didn’t summit as we topped out about 1400 and faced with a couple of hours walk back to the car we decided to head back down straight away. We were treated to another stunning sunset while we walked off and back down to the car. Eventually arriving back at the car as the sun was just disappearing.

Ledge Route was on my winter ticklist so I was pretty chuffed when Alan suggested on the Saturday that it would be a likely route for Sunday.  The weather was great all weekend long and after a great Saturday on Stob Dearg we arrived at the car park around 0900 ready for the walk upto the CIC Hut.  We made good time and geared up at the hut.  We then proceeded to the bottom of the route, not lingering in number 5 gully and roped up on the bottom of the pitch just out of the gully.  I led with Alan soloing ahead and placing gear.  The first two pitches were dispatched easily and once we'd gained the ridge proper we began to move together over the much easier ground leading to the top of Ben Nevis.  We didn't summit as we topped out about 1400 and faced with a couple of hours walk back to the car we decided to head back down straight away.  We were treated to another stunning sunset while we walked off and back down to the car.  Eventually arriving back at the car as the sun was just disappearing.

Winter Season Round-Up

Well I’m sitting here with a marg, ala Kelly Cordes and reflecting on my first full Scottish Winter Climbing season. I had 6 days planned and I ended up getting 7 days of winter/ice climbing done, thanks to the big freeze in early January which bought a route in South Wales into condition.  It’s been a stunning winter so far and there is still more to go, but sadly I’ve run out of money and days off.  So I’m going to spend a little time reflecting on what I’ve learned so far.

There’s little better than a great day out on a classic route (Ledge Route) on a classic mountain (Ben Nevis) in perfect weather.  It’s also great fun climbing a classic waterfall (Steall Falls) with good company.  I have to say I’m not a big fan of gully climbing.  The one gully I have done (Crotched Gully in the Cairngorms) wasn’t very pleasurable.  Partly due to my own inexperience, as I ran out of rope attempting to get to the belay.  That meant I had to do a downclimb to find a belay, which took a very long time as there were few gear placements on the route.  Also the climbing was very dull and samey.  I much preferred the Fiaciall Ridge which we climbed the following day.  However I led grade II quite happily.  Grade III next year, for sure!  I think that IV would be manageable, still we’ll see how next year pans out.  I’ll have a happy summer gear shopping to make sure I’ve got all the bits needed.  I’m still lacking ice axes, boots and crampons.  I’ve had such fun this year that I’m happy spending the money getting all the bits I need.

Many thanks to Alan Kimber and Alec Roberts for sharing their knowledge and skills.  Both are great instructors and I would highly recommend either for all your winter mountaineering and climbing needs.