On 10 March Darren,Tony,Dave,Mick, Alan and myself toiled with big sacks up to a fantastic looking blue sky snowy Ben. One of the first people we met on the way up was a mountain guide I know in Keswick who lives next to the surgery (16/4/2010-this was Chris Walker-tragically killed with a client in feb 2010 due to an avalanche on the Buchaille) and the next was a familiar looking face too who turned out to be Dave Mcleod returning from a mega route ! But as you guessed it the forecast was dire with torrential rain moving into the cic at 4 am or so the following morning.Typical.
However a cunning plan emerged courtesy of an smc guide and his client.A night climb!! Thus Alan(Harbinger of doom/stormbringer) Blackburn and I set off at 9pm to do a truly moonlit and lovely Moonlight Gully. We could hear the guide and another pair on other routes bashing away at the ice and setting up abseils in the dark. Atmospheric ! Back in bed a few hours later the torrents duly arrived making others wish they had ventured out too! Sadly the new bogs hadn’t been connected up so a soaking was suffered en route to the outdoor facilities ie snow patch /shovel in between bru ups weather watching and the telling of tall tales the rest of the day.
The following day the rain started to clear by noon or so and we all ventured out,Alan and I to Thompsons Route( IV) on No3 buttress and Darren Tony Dave and Mick went to the Moonlight Gully area or the Ordinary route on No 3-quite a classic.Having been repelled by spindrift on his last attempt Alan wanted to lead the first pitch but was repelled by a lack of ice in a groove at 10 m and a complete lack of runners! Facing doom up close( but no suicidal Chamoix this time !) he retreated and I set off and dug out some vital runners and having indeed found mush only at the high point took a ramp variant right for a few metres protected by two ice screws that Alan lifted out by hand later. The rest of the route was terrific well protected mixed climbing that saved the trip for us. We had heard and seen signs of some huge avalanches to our right as we climbed and though the climbs the following day would probably have been ok the risk of being avalanched in point five or similar in wet clothes (drying room ran out of fuel during the night) didn’t appeal .The cornice did go on the point in 1999 when Chris ( oh my god I’m going to die !!) This and I were doing Zero Gully-one dead the other had a fractured pelvis. Thanks again to Darren for an excellent trip. The next meet will have blue sky and metre thick ice as Alan isn’t going ! ( 16/04/2010 ps it did but I couldn’t go as i fractured my humerus off piste skiing in la Grave-at least i didn’t get helicoptered off there as one Fylde member did- who shan’t be named – for ignoring advice ,getting lost off piste and ending up on top of a cliff with no place to go-oh what the hell it was ….”damn i forgot my goggles and i’m not paying eight euros for an avalanche transceiver “……. ( so there!)