Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Taxus - Beinn an Dothaidh

February and for once we chose a good week, Dom and had had taken a punt and come up to Scotland for a full week of winter climbing. To be fair Dom as a teacher had not had much say in the mater at all but for once the conditions smiled relatively kindly on us and we got lots done.

The original plan had been a huge circuit of the highlands taking in the classic winter ridges; Torridon  An Teallach, the Fannichs etc., but although plenty of snow and cold temperatures were blanketing the hills so to was a thick layer of cloud for the majority of the week and those route are so special i'm willing to wait for perfect blue winter skies, even if its another 10 years.

Thanks to the generosity of some friends we had managed to borrow a camper van for the week meaning convenience, mobility, and hopefully some jaw dropping views to go to sleep to. We eventually spend most of the week in Glencoe, partly because of the Clachaig and partly because there was so much to do! 

 The sun sets over Loch Tulla after a climbing Taxus on day 1

Taxus (III), Beinn an Dothaidh

A classic 3* route and a compromise, not so easy that Dom gets bored, not so hard that I get scared. Despite sleeping in the car park at the base of the walk in the long drive the day before led us to sleep in meaning we were not first, or even fifth on the route. Rather than wait we headed up a Haar which was supposed to be (III) but was thin and turned out to be the hardest thing we climbed all week even if the difficulties were only a few meters long. 

Dropping down West Gully we found only one team left on Taxus so stood around whilst Dom got cold (thats what happens when you get skinny enough to climb 7b).  The route looked pretty buried with most of the ice steps well covered.


Eventually getting started I led the first pitch which was pretty easy with good neve and well tracked but was soon brought up short by running headlong into the team above who were taking an age to move off the first belay. Finding an alternate stance out right, I brought Dom up and instructed him not under any circumstances to fall on the belay... or even look at it.

Dom asked if we could pass and having received accent from the other team and he climbed on through, up a short ice step of about 3 meters which proved to be the last difficulty of any merit on the route. Then in his words he Ueli Steck'd it past the other team on what was essentially a steep snow gully, I then led the upper pitch out onto the summit.

We then traversed round to Beinn Achaladair and a fantastic sunset before taking rout one back to the van.

The view from the top of Beinn an Dothaidh -Taken in 2009 (at the same time as the banner on the blog main page)

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