Thursday 9th December 2010

Out today with Neil McGeachy and Pamela Millar on Beinn an Lochain, Arrochar. The plan was to head somewhere we could drive to, actually be able to get parked and hopefully catch the well frozen turf before any thaw. Driving there took longer than we’d hoped, one of the team managed to forget one of the half ropes and one didn’t want to walk as far as the North Face routes (the no blame culture prevents me naming names). So we made the most of some short ice and mixed ground low down on the east side of the north east ridge.

Neil about to make the awkward start

First up was a short 10m ice line on the second short buttress up the NE ridge above the tree level and overlooking Loch Restil. An awkward start lead to a couple of icey steps with turf ledges, which Neil led at about II,4 (odd grade, but Neil placed 10 pieces of gear in a short pitch).

Onto the good ice

We then moved left and up to an area with a big overhang?exhibiting dramatic icicle curtains above any easy ramp line. Unfortunately, the icicle curtain wasn’t touching down and the slabbier ice was thawing fast, so I led up a short mixed corner left of the overhangs with a couple of tech 5 moves, followed by an easy leftwards ramp to a small copse belay (25m) and Neil then led through up a turfy groove and ice boss (10m). Probably overall about III,5, again an odd grade, but just a couple of well protected 5 moves low down.

Myself above the corner and about to traverse left to the trees

All in all an unusual, but fun day. Don’t think the the routes are in the guide. They’re pretty short/scrappy, but worth knowing about to save a short day, if there’s a low level freeze.

Arrochar doesn’t have the same depth of snow as further east. Snow was very soft and the snowpack saturated, with several sloughs obvious during the day. Ice was plentiful, but thawing fast. Turf generally well frozen, but again thawing fast especially where being soaked by water from above. Above freezing all day with some light rain.

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