Thursday 10 March 2016

Back in Scotland Part Two (Gully of the Gods)

Murdoch on some deceptively steep ice on White Tiger.
Murdoch was off and had heard a rumour about some unusual ice in Torridon. The weather was looking good and I had a couple of days off;  time for a little trip up North.

I had just reached Spean Bridge when I got the first phone call, Murdoch had heard another rumour, the rumours about the unusual ice was false. After a bit of discussion, we agreed on a new objective, Gully of the Gods on Ben Bhan which he had also heard was in nick.
Myself below the impressive Gully of the Gods.

Another 20 miles up the road, and I got the second call, he had just been emailed a picture of the Liathach, and he thought there was loads of ice after all. I got him to describe what the picture showed, and conditions did not sound exceptionally icy to me. After some further discussion we decided to stick with the Ben Bhan plan.

Another 10 miles further up the road I got another call, Murdoch had the fear that there could be loads of ice, and someone else might climb the route he had his eyes on. After some further discussion, it was back to the original Torridon plan.

After a relatively comfy night in the car, I met Murdoch at 7am the next morning. There  were about 6 or 8 vehicles in the carpark all of which were vans. We left a bit old school not having a van between up. Fortunately the van dwellers had got up earlier than us, and put a good track through the deep snow into the Coire. Good effort folks! Although the major ice lines were in, conditions were not exceptional, and even Murdoch admitted the line that he had his eye on was a little too thin. Fortunately White Tiger was in nick, and was a route neither of us had done. This made of a pleasant day out.
Myself on the first pitch of Gully of the Gods. 
Looking up the impressive second pitch. Dave wondering how he was going to get out to the ice. 
The next day I had arranged to climb with Dave Almond. I had always fancied climbing the impressive Gully of the Gods on Ben Bhan ever since I first saw it over 15 years ago. However, I had never seen it in good nick. Having heard it might be in good nick I was keen for a look, and fortunately Dave was as well.

Arriving in the at the base of it we found it to be in great looking condition.  We spudded to see who got to lead the impressive second pitch, and I lost. However, this meant I got the first pitch which was great; sustained and interesting but never desperate. I was glad to hear Dave muttering away to himself about it not being overly easy when seconding.
Dave hanging out in an impressive situation on the second pitch. 
Dave then started up the second pitch, which although intimidating, turned out to be very accommodating, and not nearly as hard as it looked. A couple of easier pitches led to  the find cornice. Dave approached this direct, and about twenty or thirty minutes of hacking he managed to pop through this into the lovely afternoon sunshine. Overall a great route, one of the best Scottish winter routes that I have done, and one that it was worth waiting for.

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