Tuesday, 5 January 2010


A nightmare morning yesterday, involving helping a women get her car out of the snow, getting our own car in a bit of a mess and to top it all a confrontation with a crazy guy at a petrol station all led to us getting a late start on Gallipoli on the Black Ladders. For those who dont know the Black Ladders, a late start here isnt the best. Most of the routes are long, serious, often involve difficult route finding and we also encountered lots of soft, deep, powder, making things pretty slow going.

We finaly got on the route, Gallipoli (V,5). The route can be accessed by either taking the start for central gully, or taking a start a touch further right. We opted for the cental gully start as the first pitch was a brilliantly formed ice funnel that needed to be climbed. From here the route takes easy ground to a groove on the right which is set in a snow bay. This is climbed via ice, turf and vegitation to a peg belay above. It turned out to be a tricky pitch with a doddgy leftward step mid height to get off the thinning ice which was also hollow and breaking away under my feet, to reach a steep slope of turf and vegitation.
Dan led the next pitch which traversed left, then a tight squeeze between the buttress and an isolated arete led to a thin ice slab which was virtualy un-protectable until some 20m above. Dan setup a belay for the next pitch which i led, taking the easy slope, brought me to a steep, short wall which was infact overhanging  with vegitation. This i climbed on the left, in the slightist of grooves, hooking and torquing my way up, a final big move onto a ledge was needed to reach a good belay, thankfully the axes held! Dan took the honours and pulled back right to get over the lip of the overhanging wall, a difficult couple of moves, this wasnt the place to be digging around in the powder for an axe placement, but there really wasnt much scope. Dan soon passed his difficulties and an easyish groove ahead found a good belay spike. At this point the remainder of the route would have to be climbed by headtorch, as always, darkness seemed to arrive suddenly!! I arrived at Dans belay, a quick rack swap and i was off. the groove continued for another 20m, then an easy snow slope led us out without any problems.

Conditions wise, the ice was fantastic, where it was thick enough. Brilliant plastic ice where the axe would stick at the first swing. Turf was frozen solid, taking a bomber warthog, although some of the other larger clumps of vegitation didnt seem to want to freeze, care needed to be taken to stick on the turf at these points.
Obviously the whole area was banked with deep powder which made things difficult, and there were patches of windslab in central gully, so other sheltered aspects could be similar. We didnt encounter any neve really, not until the wind scoured upper slope, more time and consolidation needed their i think, but unsure when that will happen as it just keeps on snowing!!

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