Today we had mass assault on the 425 metre ice line on the north face of Castle Ridge, with myself and Lena climbing with Adam and Mat and Freda climbing with Mat. There was enough room all the way up for our two parallel lines so it made for a sociable day.
The weather was very warm on the walk in, which only took 45 minutes to the base of the route and we quickly found out that the ice was cruddy and not very good for supporting ice screws. With water dripping everywhere all day the protection placed throughout the route was purely to lighten the load on the harness, with a few good nuts and hexes thrown in.
The climbing however was really good on every pitch (I think there were 9 pitches) with steep sections of ice for about 30 meters on each and then a snow slope before and after. The grade of the ice was a little higher than the guide books suggest at IV,3 as most of the steeper ice sections were consistently grade 4, with a few of the higher pitches at grade 3.
This is a route that rarely comes in to condition, so it was good get on it even though most pitches were pretty much a solo for Adam and Mat leading. A good day out with a good ratio of walking to climbing and probably the hottest I’ve been on a winter climb for the whole day out.