Creag Coire an Dothaidh
Centrigrdae had been talked about since last year after Salamander Gully proved such a great day out. With strong easterlies blowing for much of the week it also seemed a good choice. We met at the usual meeting place around 08.00am and headed to the train station at Bridge of Orchy. The weather was looking good, not blue skies, but still not raining or snowing as it had been when I left my house a few hours earlier further east!! There were four of us today and we made steady progress to the route. To get to the start of the route we roped up and added an extra pitch and soon we were under the “obvious overhanging rock” and waiting to head to the first ice groove at the end of the wall!!
However waiting was the game today. We spent over an hour and a half at this point waiting on the team ahead to clear the first pitch. Standing on a slanting edge only just big enough for one foot lead to some sore calf muscles and creaking knees!!! Another climbing party had joined us at this point and they eventually decided against starting the route as we had waited so long, and they headed off after over 90 mins they would have had the extra delay of waiting on us too!!
Eventually we got going, I must admit that I was not enjoying this until now – all this hanging around, cramp and getting cold was not my idea of fun – however I suppose it comes with the territory…. Anyway first proper pitch slants rightwards under a wall to the ice. This section was rather cruddy, the turf was not 100% frozen and it was a traverse basically across wet snow and grass until the first ice groove was reached. Belay was set up and off we went up the ice groove – now this was more like it!! This was my first winter climb of the year and I must admit it was not until we got on to the ice that I realised again why I was doing this. It was much more fun now. The ice was good, the turf frozen and my aching, cold legs and arms were finally moving and generating some heat!! Up and over the ice groove and to the belay which was just below a sloping ramp with a little ice in it right hand side- just enough to get up. The bottom part was thicker but the top was really thin and a couple of outcrops of frozen turf appeared at exactly the right time!! Over the ramp then a little hop up to the next part – if I had been a little more flexible – it would have helped here!!! Then up into a little scoop. The last pitch was a little more ice and a little more turf – a nice little end to the route….
However due to the long wait – it was now nearly 16.00. Our other team was finished and back at the car and we were aware one of them had a long drive home to England, with this and the fact that day light was starting to fade we literally ran off the hill once the crampons were taken off!! Can’t say that my La Sportiva boots are the comfiest things to run in!! However we made it back just as it was getting dark!!
The drive home was interesting with white roads and blizzard from Comrie eastwards – however I eventually made it home and was happy with todays outdoors activities!!!!
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...