So, our plan for a week of sunny rock in Cornwall quickly morphed into a winter climbing trip to the north face of Ben Nevis when we heard from Alan Kimber's blog that there was space in the CIC hut.
The hut is a two hour walk from the road, sitting at the foot of the mighty north face, and having never been there before we weren't quite sure what to take. I reckon my bag must have weighed a good 45kg, and what you see below is a 25 litre bag and a 40 litre bag strapped to a 70 litre bag with two dry sacks hanging off it. This two hour walk took us three.
Walking up was a long slog and into a pretty gnarly wind, which remained for the following day, but after that the weather was pretty perfect.
Our tick list for the week:
Vanishing Gulley - V, 5, ***
Italian Right-hand - IV, 4, **
Gemini - Route not in
Carn Dearg Cascades - V, 5, ***
Vade Mecum - V, 5, **
Minus Two Gulley - V, 5, ****
Two Step Corner - V, 5, ***
17 stars in five days of climbing!
The hut is pretty good too, apart from a gas problem we had for a while, which Doug and pals managed to sort. Oh and him pointing out there was a burn behind the hut was handy after two days of us melting snow. Doh!
It has been a while since I have gone a week without washing and my head was getting a bit scabby by the end of the trip. Nice. The hut filled up as Easter approached and we ended up bugging out a night early with an epic day of Two Step Corner (hard crux and spicy cornice), the heavy walk out and an all night drive home. Despite the hut being mobbed, the hill was really quite quiet.
It's a nice feeling living in winter and then descending into spring back nearer sea level. Whilst disappointing not to get a good start to the rock season, it was even better to salvage a winter we had already written off!
Here is a bit of a photo dump of our trip:
Hot aches in my face
The wind slab on the way to Vade Mecum (Hadrians Wall is the fat ice line, with Vade Mecum just to the left)
Nick climbs a cloud
The thin start of Minus Two Gulley takes the very right of the gulley
The CIC or Carn Dearg Cascades - stiff for V!
Two Step is directly above me
The infamous Two Step cornice - shit a brick
James should have been in the left hand shot of Vanishing Gulley, by the time I had taken it he had fallen out the bottom of the picture!
Vanishing Gulley is the thin line above James