Monday 11 January 2010

Frozen bliss/nightmare

The continued super low temperatures here in the highlands have been having big positive and negative effects on having fun right now. First the good stuff:

Leading the first ascent of Frozen Assets VII,7 yesterday. Photo: Sam Wood

Frozen Assets takes the right hand line, moving between the ice dribbles.

I went back to the the Coe with Sam Wood to revisit the crag right of the Slit where I’d done the brilliant new ice route with Donald the day before (Liquidation VI,6). Our goal was to climb the rather steeper and thinner series of dribbles, pencils and hanging fangs to the right of that route. 

After a scary drive down, passing a horrible looking accident due to weird freezing rain and snow, we toiled back up to the crag. The icicles looked scarily detached from the rock behind, and I although I was pretty confident I could climb between them, the big issue would be the entire thing becoming airborne with me attached. Just enough protection appeared at the last minute to keep me probing upwards with a gentle touch on the booming ice dribbles. It proved to be an absorbing hour or two and a memorable new route. Sam did spectacularly well to follow me up a pitch three grades harder than his normal leading grade (all those nights in the tooling cave are working then don’t you think?)

While this ice is still around I’m super keen for more of this type of action, if other circumstances don’t get in the way. And that leads me onto the bad stuff:

Our water supply at home for the time being - a bucket of snow.

After our drainage system giving in a couple of days ago, now our water supply (which comes of the mountainside behind the house) has finally frozen up. Attempts to revive the system involving ice axes, flasks and a blowtorch this morning failed miserably against vast quantities of ice in the feed tanks and pipes. It seems we’ll be melting snow until whenever the gulf stream gets it’s act together and blows away the Scandinavian high thats causing all the icy trouble.

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