With an early start myself, Mat and Tony headed into Stob Coire nan Lochan to have a look at what was ‘in’. We decided on Crest Route a V,6 with 3 stars. Keen to swing leads with Tony I headed up the first pitch which was a good introduction to the route. With frozen turf and good hooks I made my way up the easier ledge to a harder cracked wall with a few moves of grade 4. Mat and Tony soon followed and then Tony led off.
Tony made good progress over the initial slab from the belay and then started up the main corner. Myself and Mat were surprised to see Tony shaking out halfway up, which didn’t bode well for us. At the belay Tony wasn’t sure if we were on the right route as it was harder than the grade suggests. Both myself and Mat headed up in a lot less style and a lot more grunting, trying to make the moves, warm our hands up and climb with some style. The covering on the rock was minimal, very little ice to help and soft snow and no turf in sight, so we all had to rely on hooks and ledges.
The next belay was a feature in itself. I think that when I joined them I was close enough to Tony to take his inside leg measurement and was growing concerned with what Mat may had eaten in the last 24hours. With myself in a hanging belay and Mat infront Tony set off again up the third pitch, as there was no way that I had it in me to lead that grade with the current conditions.
It quickly became apparent that this belay was going to be a cold one. With the wind blowing at about 25 mph most of the time and sitting in my harness, I quickly lost the feeling in my feet, the temperature was easily -15 degrees for the whole climb. Tony had a rest halfway up the pitch and informed us that ‘it was desperate’, myself and Mat just looked at each other with a resigned glance of another pitch of desperation. But Tony being Tony made it up and got straight to the easy belay.
Glad to be off the hanging belay we started up. And it was desperate. With the crux being an open corner with a crack at the back, just a bit too wide to be useful and with no ice in it. After looking around I resigned myself to using the small ledges on the right wall about the size of a 5 pence coin, with my crampon spike on the same for my feet, for the next 3 or 4 moves.
Mat made it up in just as much style as me. At the belay we both congratulated Tony then gave another glance to each other, knowing that it was a super lead and way out of our ability to do the same and pretty much nails.
I led the last, short pitch with a small step in it to the top. By 3.30pm we were back at the bottom of the route to food and water and some warmth. An awesome day out.