Sunday, 27 December 2009

Winter Madness: Part Three

Franco and I were very happy with our climbing in the Lakes, so much so we threw caution to the wind and went to try the 'seldom in condition', Cold Climbs classic, Chock Gully V,5.
There was a lot of snow about, the walk in was much harder than on previous days with drift and powder.
We arrived at the base of the Gully. It was full of powder, avalanches of powder cutting rivers of snow through the snow already in place. Franco started up the gully.
An hour or so later, i could see him. White with powder as he finally managed to swim his way up the constantly replenishing 8ft powder drifts. He then shouted down to 'pay attention' as he was on rotton ice below the Chock. He managed it and set up his belay sheltered from the constant powder avalanches.
I followed up and found it thoroughly unpleasant, though, quite fun! However, Franco insisted that i had a crack at the Chock pitch, which i was not sure about!
I found a crunched up rest under the chock and placed a nut and clipped a peg. I stuck my head out and got nailed by an avalanche of powder. It was cold.
Franco then said, 'It's Clear!' so i leaned out and slammed an axe into the crack, torqued and then thrashed around trying to get some purchase in the powder above.
I was gripped, worried that i would fall awkwardly and i was fighting a loosing battle pulling into the steep powder. I saw grass, and slammed my axe into it. Bomber. I swung from the left of the chock to the right gully wall and hauled my way into the unstable snow. I dug and dug and dug, intent on finding gear so i wouldn't end up below that hideous chockstone! I found a new, though slightly poor peg! I shouted in delight!
What followed was a carbon copy of the first pitch. The Cold Climbs story by Birkett, said 'easy snow slopes' leads from the Chock. The 8ft powder made this, somewhat untrue! Swimming, bridging and awful ice steps led up to a narrowing and a mixed step up and left. Scared i placed a hex, which when i pulled on to the step, fell out. My heart raced as if i fell i would end up below the chock, or as a chock myself!
I couldn't go on any futher and managed to find a few cracks, so i set up a rather poor belay. I couldn't help laughing as i began to force my limited gear into any conceivable gap.
Franco managed to second the pitch and then lead past my cramped stance. I was extremely happy when he began to pull in the slack up to the top pitch.
An immense route, which was truly brilliant, even if it was in 'poor nick' in so much as there was too much snow!
We swam back down to Grisedale Tarn in the powder drifts, absolutely knackered but we knew we had done an absolutely amazing climb!
More tired, wine related bollocks.

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