Went for a wander up into Coire loch nan Eun on Saturday. After making quick progress into the coire we headed round to have a look for Bathtime Buttress on the north east face of the Stuic, a recently climbed grade II. By mid day the weather had turned fairly nasty with long periods of whiteout and spindrift.
After climbing up some suspect snow slopes we quickly set up a belay and roped up as conditions closed in even further. Through a brief break in the weather I noticed an interesting groove line so headed towards that for a wee look. Entry was blocked by a steep slabby wall and after much swearing, sweating, spindrift down my neck and clearing away of snow I backed off and downclimbed to the belay.
Not sure of the exact location of Bathtime Buttress we moved over to an obvious gully which vaguely resembled the description of Plug Groove (III). The route followed the groove over two steep ice pitches up onto more open snow slopes leading to the crest. In one long pitch I found myself desperately searching for a belay almost at the end of a 60m rope and with only one dodgy piton and a sling over a shallow spike offering any protection below. After a lot of excavating I managed to find a decent belay which was bombproof but exposed to the full force of the wind. After a lot of shivering and one more short pitch we topped out on the plateau into the face of a full on blizzard.
Not wanting to stray over the huge cornices we had noticed on the north west face we gave the cliffs a wide berth but ended up heading too far west and finding ourselves a bit disorientated, in a whiteout, in the dark. After finding ourselves on un-nervingly creaky snow slopes heading up over the Carn t-Saigart Beag-Stuic col we backtracked and followed bearings up a safer aspect. After a long long descent by headtorch being constantly buffeted off course by the winds and straying off the edge of the Ballater map we finally found the river we needed and followed it back to the landrover track.
After a quick break to refill the water bottles we headed down through the forest, returning to the car 13.5 hours after leaving it! A long awaited pint in the Inver Hotel and we were back in Aberdeen not long before midnight.
Posted by Munro, Iain (iain) on 2008-03-05 18:12:24
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