Monday, January 8, 2018

Desperately Seeking Winter...Another Try For Some Climbing

Snow to 600mtrs on Thursday followed by decent frosts on Friday and Saturday nights and a decidedly chilly minus 5 last night ๐Ÿ˜Ž meant I was quite hopeful that the north face of Carrauntoohil would offer some proper winter climbing. Unfortunately as is so often the case hereabouts by the time I was leaving the car at 9.15 at Lisliebane it was +1 degrees and cloud covered the mountains. The severe overnight frost had worked its magic on the turf which was hard and dry but it was obvious it was going to be a race against time to beat the thaw. Not that I was in much form for racing as I had come direct from work and for some reason I had decided that it was a good idea to bring a full winter bag including helmet, harness, some gear and two axes plus of course crampons.

Not much sign of winter

Looking down the start of Curve Gully. I sometimes find this area quite tricky

The exit out of the gully. Straight up just right of centre

It was steeper that I had initially thought..Bomber turf helped ๐Ÿ˜…
The cloud was down at 600mtrs and there wasn't a smidgen of the white stuff to be seen. It was also quite breezy and this confirmed as much as anything else that a change in the weather was well underway. I made my way up into the second level of Coumeenoughter and finally reached some snow here. I had thought "The Step" might have made a worthy outing but, what I could see of it through the mist showed that it was completely bare low down so I continued on to the base of Curve Gully. Some old snow remained here from the previous snowfall so I finally got the crampons on and got the axes in hand and set off up. A little ice umbrella at the first step made it an interesting start and the next higher step was  almost completely snow free so I went up the right wall and this offered nice Grade2 climbing for a few moves with nice frozen turf for the picks to bite into. Above that the conditions were rubbish all the way to the narrow upper half of the gully. Even here it wasn't great so after a short while I broke out left towards the Grey Area. An initial twenty metre section gave very nice climbing on crusty snow but some very nice frozen turf made things a bit more secure. This was top end Grade2 but it was over all too soon and after that it was a bit of a slog upwards and leftwards to reach more entertaining ground. This was a rocky ridge where a little rime ice and crusty snow. It was easy but fun and before I knew it I arrived at the turn back sign near the summit cross. The thaw hadn't reached here yet and the strong wind made it an easy decision to head down. I descended via the Heavenly Gates again and made my back to the car in the wind and light drizzle. Wintry it had been and I enjoyed the outing but it wasn't what I had hoped to find conditions wise. Still there is still hope and time to get more climbing done this winter...❆❆❆
Final ridge

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