Sunday, 25 August 2013

May Crack, Buachaille Etive Mor

New potential LMC club member Matt and I opted to take a trip up to Glen Coe to get on some mountain rock. At the same time Brian and Luca had also decided to go up to Glen Coe as well with their own plan.

Matt and I left Glasgow at a lesuirely half 9 or so and drove up to Glen Coe with a view to climbing something on The Buachaille. The forecast had been suggesting a possibility of lots of low cloud and fog, but this was unfounded as we drove with blue skies above our heads the full way.

As we came through rannoch moor and rounded the bend, that familiar view of The Buachaille came into view, looking magnificent against blue sky but as we approached the car park the error of our late start became apparent as the car park and laybyes were mobbed. After debating whether to go climbing on Aonach Dubh we decided the car park down there would likely be just as busy so we drove up to the car park for the Little Buachaille.

Parking at the car park for the Little Buachaille means a longer walk in, but gave us time to warm our legs up before hitting the hill itself. As we passed the hut we traversed off to look for the Great Gully and Broad Buttress area as I had never been on that part of the face before. Eventually as we hit the large stram at the bottom of Great Gully we could see the way up.

Looking up into Great Gully towards the lower Great Gully buttress it was all in shadow, and looked slimy and wet and we decided that with the late start we would head straight for the upper great gully buttress, where broad buttress runs flat and merges into Great Gully. The scamble up Broad Buttress was broad, wantering and open to variation and we just chose the line as it cames as we chatted about the club and climbing.

As we reached the top of the buttress and came onto the wall of the upper great gully buttress we came onto the line of our chosen climb. May Crack (VS, 5a, ****). A long single pitch which has 4 stars and touted as one of the best VS pitches in the country.

As we approached a couple of climbers were on the route already so we sat back and eat some snacks and enjoyed the views, and just as I was enjoying the sun on my face and the chocolate in my throat Brian and Luca topped out onto the ridge with hard shells and all, looking like they had just emerged from the Mines of Moria and our earlier suspicions were correct that it was all a bit cold and damp down in the depths of great gully, hemmed in by opposing ridges and faces on all sides.

Luca and Brian also had their eyes on May Crack after just coming up July Crack (HVS, 5a, ***) but we were already in the queue so they decided to go for the next climb up. Yam (E1, 5b, **).

Matt called dibs on the lead which I agreed to. He asked first and it is only one pitch so we would need to compromise. Matt lead up well and with the sun dropping further down the other side of the mountain a dark and gloomy shadow started racing its way up the wall and as it did the legions of midges started appearing out of their hidey holes and biting eye balls and all.

As Matt led well up the wall, Luca was making simultaneous good progress on the E1 fighting a wet crux and hidden holds on a horrible looking overhanging roof.

By the time Matt topped out and set up the belay Luca had brought Brian up, and I was ready to climb.

The face had fallen into complete shadow by now and the rock had got quickly chilly on the fingers and I had to don my long sleeved top. The rock was impeccably grippy with good friction, and the crux was slightly overhanging which made for interesting fun as I felt gravity pulling me away from the wall. A good few of the holds also had drainage on them and several times I had to dry my fingers off before making a move, however a couple bits where the rock was particulaly water worn, was also incredibly grippy and positive even with wet hands and a couple of moves I was able to do confidently without drying them. I topped out back into sunshine and a grand view across Rannoch Moor and joined Matt at his belay.

We scrambled back down off the top of the buttress, packed up and headed up great gully where we eventually broke out on the ridge into sunshine, blue sky and wonderful view down Glen Coe, to The Ben and beyond. We walked back down through the coire, to the road and then back along the road to the car and had a leisurely drive back home.

A great day on the hill, and some fitness back in preperation for winter coming and hopefully a couple more summer mountain days like this would be perfect before the end of the season.

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