Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Caldera crags

Kev checking out some future very scary granite slab climbs on Ben Nevis
On the outer rim of the Ben Nevis volcanic caldera is a ring of granite surrounding it’s andesite centre. The granite is the stuff that gently baked the mica schist of Glen Nevis, giving it it’s honeycomb texture that makes it so great to climb. But not much of the granite is exposed as crags unfortunately. I’ve often passed small outcrops of the stuff on various approaches to the Ben and thought it would be nice to find a good crag or boulder made of this stuff since it’s some of the nicest rough granite I’ve ever seen. 
One place I kept meaning to look were the obvious slabs high on the slopes of the Ben, directly above the car park for Steall. I say high - they only look high because of the savage slope leading up to them. They are actually only about 6/700m altitude. On last week’s run I went past one of them and found an immaculate 15 metre slab of granite with four routes to do on it and an even bigger slab above. Two lines in particular stood out as the best gritstone style E7/8 slab climbs I’ve seen. A bit like the classic Cairngorm E7 ‘Firestone’ but with even better rock.
Kev and myself couldn’t resist checking them out and so we slogged up and had a play on them. As suspected, a pair of fantastic but very bold climbs to be done there. An E7 6b and E8 6c. Something to go back to when feeling rather confident. If I'd remembered my helmet, the E7 line may just have got an ascent. But probably best to have to go back with a strong mind anyway.

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