The car read -5 degrees as I drove to Nevis Range to head up the Ben again today. Tony had is eye on The Slab Climb on South Trident Buttress, at VI 7, I was happy to follow. With a perfect day and with only a few teams about, on Sioux Wall and a route to the left that I can’t find in the guide, Tony headed up the first traversing pitch. With an easy traverse left then right, there was a little steep slab at the end which introduced you to the route.
Tony headed up again, making quick progress of the thin crack and over the overlap, with good gear and hooks, the focus was on good, precise foot placements. I made my way up in slightly less style and control, but got there cleanly in the end. Due to the party above us Tony belayed just after the traverse on the second pitch, but this meant that the second half of the 2nd pitch and the 3rd and 4th could all be linked in a 50m pitch to the top. It was a long pitch of 2 halves. More slabby ledges and hooks on the first half, followed by a narrow, slightly overhanging chimney. It’s the first time that I’ve taken a rest hanging off my axes with my feet about knee height, and taking a deep breath in to wedge me against the 2 walls. I think the best way to describe the climbing technique is ‘full body thrutching’, best done alone on a mountain. After that, a few easier chimneys and we were at the top.
A good job well done. With a quick alpine style traverse along Pinnacle Arete and then a decent into the bottom on Number 4 gully we were back at the bags and soon walking out.