The last couple of days Andy has been out working with Jonathan and Rupert and not taking his camera out to play - which doesn't make for an exciting post!
Monday they headed for Stob Coire nan Lochan and quickly realised on the walk-in that so was everybody else and their dog. So Andy decided to go and check out the crags on the east face of Aonach Dubh instead, a useful venue when Lochan is busy. No-one else there - perfect! So they climbed Eastern Slant (III/IV,4) but as the guys were looking strong they did an alternative steeper top pitch which Andy reckoned was a bout V,VI. Made a bit more exciting by some poor snow just pulling over the top of the crag which resulted in Andy teetering about on his front points whilst removing his gloves and shoving them in his jacket and then crimping over the top!
Tuesday was a day for the Ben, and again with it being half term lots of teams out and about. Jonathan and Rupert had requested a Grade 6 experience so never wanting to disappoint they headed for Route 1 Direct, and climbed the first couple of pitches. The temperatures rose as the day progressed so, after abseiling off Route 1 it was a good opportunity to learn some skills taking adventage of some ice in Waterfall Gully to look at screw placement and abolokov building. However, when a lump of ice landed between Andy's shoulderblades he decided it was time to retreat!
The big news this week up north seems to be all about the annual "is it winter condition debate?". Andy had heard a report that people had been seen attempting Sassenach and whilst pleased to hear someone was trying to repeat the route was doubtful that it was actually in condition, so when this photo appeared on UKC and the ensuing thread, he was pretty gobsmacked by the blatant summer conditions! Yes it's really steep and doesn't get as plastered as some routes, but he'd waited and retreated from the bottom of the route on several occasions before making his ascent. The reports seem to say that the team pictured haven't completed the route and even if they had not sure they'd be brave enough to claim it?!!