Thursday, 17 February 2011

Castle Ridge

Castle Ridge (III) following the ridge rightwards

This week I'm working with Andrew and Heather to help prepare them for the Adventure Peaks Everest expedition in April. Castle Ridge provided the perfect route to perfect their crampon technique on mixed terrain with a large dose of exposure. We walked in to the Ben in the sunshine while Fort William was still hidden below the cloud inversion. There were teams on Orion Direct, Galactic Hitchhiker, Tower Ridge, Green Gully, Thompson's Route, Ledge Route and Waterfall Gully. There was also plenty of evidence of avalanche activity with a number of crown walls around the Castle gullies. The ridge was in good condition although the upper crux was a little dry and easier without axes. We descended directly to Half Way Lochan on good snow and were back at the hotel in enough time to practice climbing ladders in crampons and mitts, an interesting exercise but which removed some of the fear of the unknown regarding the Second Step on Everest's north east ridge.

Unfortunately we lost an axe today during the descent so if anyone does find a DMM Fly above Half Way Lochan please get in touch and we'll see what we can do...

Andrew on the first crux groove

Heather enjoying some good ice

Perfect conditions for one of the classic ridges

The second exposed crux high on the ridge

Topping out in the sunshine

The descent to Half Way Lochan

On the descent minus an axe!

Practicing for the Second Step on the north east ridge of Everest