29 Jul 2013

Ben Nevis Girdle Traverse

Last Tuesday Ewan and I tried to do the Girdle Traverse on Ben Nevis. We had a plan of bivving out the night before at the CIC hut then an early start the next day. On the walk up the track on Monday evening things where feeling great. Tops where off as it was still hot from the day. After a sweaty walk we made it to the CIC hut and the Ben was looking good. As soon as we stopped the midges came out, it was going to be a good nights sleep. We had both gone for a different approach on what to sleep in. Ewan was going for just a sleeping bag and mat as the weather was looking good over night and I had gone for just a bivvy bag, sleeping bag liner and mat. Safe to say not the best night sleep you could hope for before a long day of climbing. 

Loving the walking in the sun
Sunset over CIC track
Bed for the night
Looking forward to sleep
Waking up to see that it was 3.55am was the greatest feeling as the morning coffee could be had. After a good helping of porridge for breakfast and coffee time to make the walk in. We had a bit of a way to go as we started pretty much on CMD. So a nice warm up for the day. Getting up to the start or should I say where we think it started form. The guide book description was not the best. We started climbing at 6.15am so the adventure had begun and it was looking like it was going to be a long day. Moving across the face we knew that we wanted to be on the second tiers of North East Buttress to put us on the right level to cross Orion Face and get over Point 5. Pretty much guessing my way on the lead. Getting to North East Buttress we could see right over to The Gap and where we could have a food stop but on for now. The ground we were on was lose and slimy in bits so having to stay switched on all the time. This was going to be the theme for the day. It had taken us a lot longer to cover the ground fast. Although this was meant to be the crux of the route, getting to Point 5 and crossing it.

Where do you think we are head? © Ewan McKay
The adventure starts
Still happy
Looking over to Tower Ridge from the top of Orion Face
Move lovely ground to cross © Ewan McKay
Crossing Point 5
Crossing Point 5 was not as bad as we thought it was going to be. Although getting there we realised that we were meant to be on a lower shelf and the only way to get there quickly was to do two abseils down. This was to be off a nice old peg and nut. Sadly as I was the heaviest I got to test them first. Getting down the abseil then to find a nice size block (Ewan's face says it all in the photo below) for the next abseil off Ewan got to test this one first.

Old peg and nut abseil © Ewan McKay 
Nice block abseil or the face of fear
Getting down to the top of Tower Scoop we had to cross a nice snow slope as Ewan was in boots he got the job of making me steps to walk in. He used a nut key to plunge into the snow for support (more in the mind than being actually useful). Although I did follow suit. Getting over the snow a quick climbing up to Tower Gap for a post of food. By time we got there it had gone 11am so not doing to bad on time as we not too sure where we were going. Looking at the next half was going to be a long slog. Next came an abseil down Glovers Chimney which turned out to be very fruitful finding £20. Ewan now leading the way around to Number 2 Gully. So far in the day we had sunshine sadly it was not to last. Mid way down the face the cloud came in and visibility was not good. To make this even better the ground we where on was the worst of the day being wet, slimy, lose and just all about bad. Somehow we picked a way down to the gully. Getting to the gully the cloud was still down and we decided to bug out as Ewan liked to put it. As we where not too sure on where the route goes for the second half. 

Going down Glovers Chimney © Ewan McKay 
Glover's Chimney
Onward to Number 2 Gully
Cloud come down 
Just about see me © Ewan McKay
Nice wet rock
Where are we going now? © Ewan McKay
Walking down Number 2 it started to rain so in a odd way made me happy that we called it. Although it was short lived as when getting to the CIC hut the cloud and rain had stopped. It was all most looked like it could be lifting. Maybe we should have waited it out and not just gone. But I guess its what you think is right at the time. This does mean we will be going back again to get it done.

On the way filmed bit of climbing and and thoughts of what the climb was like.

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