Hi Baggy, exciting day today! Rory Shaw and I went to the ladders, with nothing particular in mind, and ended up doing Pyramid Buttress.
We had the older version of Pete Harrisons topo for it, that gives is IV ?. So we were expecting pitches of sort of 4. The first pitch, from the neve slopes to bit of a terrace was fine, soloed that, then the second pitch to a snowy bay just down and right of the diagonal crossing of the ice was pretty desperate! The turf wasn't 100% frozen here and there was no bloody gear! Ended up going a bit high and having to down climb a short section. Rory took the next pitch, up an ice smear, then across a thin ledge with overhanging rock above, luckily there were lots of positive handholds so it wasn't as bad as it looked from below. At some good in situ tat we took another belay, and I lead the next pitch, which I assume would usually cross the ice, instead, I could get behind the huge icicle (bomber runner!) and follow the ledge up left, to a good 2 spike belay with a bomber nut to back up. I think from seeing it previously that the last 2 pitches that the guide describes as 1 (though no way could you do it on 60 ropes!) that this area usually has a big ice sheet rather then the odd smear/icicle? The next pitch was the traverse! Wow! I doubt there is any other pitch like that in the world. A full 50m worth at least, mainly on sloping turf ledges, a few ice smears to negotiate, and the block! Where you would step around, with a void beneath you hanging off a lay-back, to reach another lay-back on the other side, and then do some sort of little controlled fall to catch a spike! A truly mad move. Another 10m on and your pretty much on the arête, which very disappointingly you look down from and see that you could reach this point very easily by walking up from central gulley!! So much for thinking this was the line of least resistance to getting up there. From there on fantastic grade 3/4 ground leads to the top, one step on the arête we deemed too hard to pass! I wonder if its been done? There is always an easier way around though which is great. I'm thinking now that the route we did today might not have actually been Pyramid Buttress as described but a similar variant (above the traverse that is). We did it in 11 pitches, without any unnecessary short ones either it seemed. I think 185m in the guide might be a bit off. Good anyhow
To go up the bottom of central gulley and then go up left onto the arête would make for a brilliant grade 3/4 mixed climb!
Pyramid buttress really felt like an adventure, especially having no idea what to expect! I thoroughly recommend it. Perhaps let it freeze a little more though.
Word up Bagwah,
Manx Wall yesterday, and a "beefy" Mankini today. The crag was sociable today with lots of locals. Chew ticked all the ice routes on his first day out in winter, with V12 latte maestro Jim Mc. Megan and Ali enjoyed Y gully Lhand. Chris Parkin, Joni Rad-cliff, Duncan and Miles nipped up El Manco too. Lots of others enjoying bomber neve and ice in abundance.
Ysgolion Duon (Black Ladders), 10th February.
Tim Jepson reports:
Although the steep, lower buttresses and walls of Ysgolion Duon are still black, and hoar only covers the top third of the crag, there were a number of routes in genuine winter condition today.
Icefall Gully was climbed by John Peake and Ian Whitehead, while Owen Hayward and Tim Jepson did The Somme. Eastern Gully was soloed. The ice is a little thin in places, and your ice screws may need tying off, but it is continuous, and of excellent quality, supplemented by plenty of frozen turf whenever you need it. The neve is as good as it ever gets!