Entente Cordiale….

On March 23, 2014 by Tim Neill
Rewarded with incredible neve on Thompson's Route

Rewarded with incredible neve on Thompson’s Route


My very last work in Scotland this winter was based up at the famous CIC hut on the Ben. The conditions of the previous week had been given a major readdressing by the weather over the weekend….high winds and rain! Every day was a forecast that would’ve challenged you to leave the valley at all…but when up at the hut everything seemed worth a look at least! I was working alongside Matt Stygall of West Coast Guides …. http://www.westcoast-mountainguides.co.uk/about.asp. Bruce and Matt are easily 2 of the most solid and productive Guides that work in the area for sure!

Hut life was ace and very sociable with a  team from Toulouse, France and a Glenmore Lodge team. Climbing, sorting kit, cooking, wine and whisky….simple pleasures.

Holding tired heads up with tired arms...

Holding tired heads up with tired arms…

It didn’t seem so bad on Monday morning so Stephen, David and I quested up NE Buttress via Slingsby’s Chimney for our first trip of many to the summit and set our compass for the abseil posts at the head of Corrie Leis.

The following morning was a re enactment of an article in the Perroux guidebook to the mountain where a French team joined us for a snowy Observatory Ridge….gone were the generous neve conditions low down. Soft fresh snow on slopey rocks for a few pitches saw us onto the classic snow crest and then brilliant snow up the final straight of Zero Gully.

Wednesday looked hopeless as summit temps were forecast high and winds of 100+ mph were set for early afternoon. A poke out the door in the morning saw us conclude a quick dash up Tower Ridge was a reasonable option before things got rough. The boys kept their foot firmly on the right hand pedal and we were back for lunch reasonably dry and happy.

Thursday saw the winter switch firmly back on and a late morning start with the promise of a late afternoon improvement. We were beaten back 4 pitches up Observatory Buttress by some wild spindrift and graupel, but saved the day with a quick romp up Tower Scoop and the Upper Tower Cascade and the familiar ground at the top of Tower Ridge. The late afternoon light gave us the lovely views we’d been so far denied.

Setting off into Thompson's Route Photo; David Bingham

Setting off into Thompson’s Route
Photo; David Bingham

Finally, Friday started at dawn with a race to beat the quickly deteriorating storm. We plumbed for No 3 Gully buttress and the classic ice of Thompson’s Route. The rising storm blew us up the hill to the summit and back down to the hut to grab our gear and get back to the real world.

Not a bad wee week given the epic weather. Thanks to Matt for asking me along and Stephen and David for the great company on the rope.

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