The offer of a weekend climbing in the Lake District with the prospect of good conditions was just too much to resist. Saturday saw us up early and plodding up the gully from Dunmail Raise made slightly easier by the fact we had stayed in the the NMC hut down in Borrowdale...so the early start wasn't as early as it usually is.
Our aim today was to climb Jogebar Gully III in Nethermost Cove, a route I had waited 26 years to do following my very first winter experiences on a course run by Thurston OEC. We had stayed at Ruthwaite Lodge in Grisedale Valley and the instructors had talked about this gully and how good it was, but did not come into condition very readily. It was well worth the wait as it was in pristine condition and it was a pleasure to climb....I dedicated the route to my Father who passed away recently and shed a little tear away from Craig my partner for the day.
Craig was also keen to get out today, albeit with some trepidation, and get something done following his experiences on Great Gable a few weeks back. Although he wasn't very happy at first by the time we had descended back into Nethermost following out Jogebar ascent and went onto do the icefall that sometimes forms down and to the left of our first route, he found himself elated to be out. A superb bonus which we didn't expect. The route goes at III but felt more like IV with a well protected crux.
An easy 'Glissaded' descent all the way from Dollywaggon down to the final gully at Dunmail Raise ended the day with me and Craig laughing and whooping.
Sunday saw another early ish rise to the day and another drive back to Dunmail Raise. However, today I was partnered by Tom as Craig had decided he needed to touch some rock, opting for the classic Troutdale Pinnacle on Black Crag Borrowdale. I believe Craig thought of himself as a potential 'Gnarly' mountaineer but from his efforts or lack of them to get up to go out on the hill, he has a long way to go :-). We were surprised to be the first car park and considering it was 8.30 wondered why???? Worried actually!
Tom and myself plodded up and up the backside of Dollywaggon to the col where Dollywaggon North Crag is. This high crag offers some good III's and IV's all of which were in very good condition judging from what we had seen the day before.
To our surprise no one else was at the crag and in fact apart from a couple starting at the very end of our day saw no one else climbing at all through the whole day.
Our route of choice was Solo Symphony III which again was hard for III but excellent in character. Worthy of at least 2*. We then descended back into the base of the crag to find a another III but after a bit of a mountaineering exploration give up and ascended an easy grade I gully to the top. Once again Tom and myself made the most of the the good snow to go down but couldn't glissade as the snow had softened with a rise in temperature as the day progressed so on with the waterproof bottoms and although not quite as fast as the glissade still excellent fun.
A few drinks that night put all those concerned in a very happy place in deed :-)
Thanks to the Hairy People (well the not so hairy people now) for a great weekend.