Neither Ken or I are keen on queuing for routes and with the popular Gargoyle Wall on our hit list today we made an early start which ensured we were first at the start of our chosen route. Ken stated up the first pitch but as height was gained so the cracks got choked with ice which made the route very hard to protect, not to mention extremely difficult to find even a marginal belay. The route was binned and the hunt for another objective was on. We took a look at Cloudwalker which appeared to be in similar condition this made us retreat lower down the mountain and onto the West face of The Garadh. Our guidebook had no record of winter routes so we just started up ice and blocks only to be forced to retreat again as the rock became super compact with little in the way of hooks, placements, protection or reliable snow – shut down again! In the end we climbed an icey ramp which we now know was Thea (III) first climbed in January 2012. Although climbable in one long pitch it would be a nice start to the routes above such as Glovers or the White Line, quality ice too which ended up being a nice consolation prize after scratching around all morning.
Lots of climbers out enjoying the excellent ice in the main drainage lines which all looked to be in super condition. The thin icey face climbs need a few more freeze/thaw cycles but there is certainly some fat ice to be had in and around the grade IV mark at the moment. I’m heading into a very busy period over the next two weeks, mainly play so fingers crossed the conditions continue to build and the cracks get a chance to release some of the unwanted ice.