/ Grade III solo

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Milesy - on 27 Feb 2013
Keep flaming and trolling to a minimum please.

I can climb III and I am confident on steep grade I and II ground when consolidated, and the two grade III routes I am desperate to do are SC Gully and Good Friday Climb and I fancy soloing one of them. SC being the less serious out of them. I soloed up to the ramp on SC 2 years ago and backed off as it was dripping and stones were falling out the gully.

Now I have demonstrated to myself that I am more confident soloing easy ground with a decent sleep than I am leading it with no or little sleep and that with an easier and later walk in, I think I could try something harder, with the benefit of time saved through no rope work. If I havent had a sleep I struggle to commit to something.

Now with current conditions being nice and consolidated am I being reckless in my thinking?
afshapes - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: the consequences of soloing is pretty serious. I guess you need to ask why you want to take that risk
hydraulicwave - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: Perhaps this thread will help with fear control - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=540027&v=1
Monk - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to afshapes:
> (In reply to Milesy) the consequences of soloing is pretty serious. I guess you need to ask why you want to take that risk

The consequences of falling while soloing are pretty serious. But how often do people fall on grade III? And how serious would a roped fall on grade III be in comparison?

Milesy - only you can decide if soloing is justifiable. I used to solo a lot on rock, but what was justifiable for me varied enormously, with just tiny factors making me change my mind one way or another. The most important thing for me was to remember not to be blinded by desire, but to think rationally about every moment.
dutybooty - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: Honestly not a troll. If you need to ask if you can, its probably best not to do it.

Me personally? I'd go jump on it! But I'm relatively confident in winter.
Milesy - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to afshapes:
> (In reply to Milesy) the consequences of soloing is pretty serious. I guess you need to ask why you want to take that risk

To actually climb something. If I wait for time, and partners and conditions the season will be over.

I let a friend down because my baby kept me up all night, had 2 hours sleep and I was in no condition to commit to a climb. Any time I organise an outing I lie in bed praying the baby doesnt wake up. At least winter walking trips I can function with no sleep so thats not a big concern, especially when there is a group. But when you have one person relying on you it is a big let down to say sorry mate, I cant even spell my name, fancy a walk instead?

At least being sensible about route conditions, weather and ability, if I am myself I dont have anything to prove to anyone but myself. I can enjoy my drive and walk in without imposition at my own leisure. I can back off something without fear of reprimand.

If snow is soft or unstable I have less control of the situation and like I found out in Glen Coe last Friday. When things are consolidated I can trust my placements a lot more.

If conditions are good I think the risk is justifyable myself for the benefits gained. Before you know it is Spring and then the summer rain comes and the summer season is spent walking as well! As much as I love Scotland - the ever changing weather makes it incredibly difficult for the casual climber. :)
The Ex-Engineer - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: Many years ago I had a great day out and soloed Staghorn Gully (III) on Creag Meagaidh.

I probably found it as exciting as leading Indicator Wall on the Ben which I did 2-3 days previously as my 2nd grade V.

Since I climbed SC when it was blatantly out of nick, I can't offer any advice on that.

There is certainly nothing wrong with your aspiration, but long grade IIIs are still serious routes and I would not under-estimate them.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk:
> (In reply to afshapes)
> [...]
>
> The consequences of falling while soloing are pretty serious. But how often do people fall on grade III?

Well, it happens, and when it does the consequences are often fatal. Having witnessed someone fall from a grade III winter climb while soloing and having been the one who had to deal with the mess I can tell you now that I'm not a fan.

This issue isn't the dificulty of the climb but the medium on which you are climbing which, in winter, is much less predictable. The reason why the above climber died was because the snow collapsed as he was topping out.

As a climber who has rolled the solo dice many times I am not here to judge anyone. But be under no illusions that the gamble may be the ultimate price. I have lost a friend to this game (soloing Tower ridge), I have seen a friend hospitalised for months and I have witnessed the above incident.

Go carefully.
In reply to Milesy: I'm just back having been soloing little local icefalls in the sunshine. I solo ice routes a fair bit, although nothing on the scale of a Nevis route! What I would say is that different things become stressful when soloing ice routes. When leading and you get to the top of the steep bit and know you then have to get off the steep ice and climb onto snow you can put a screw in the last of good ice to protect climbing onto the snow, then it all goes quite smoothly. When soloing transiting from ice on to snow is often the crux for me as you're not so certain that your tools are placed as well as they can be on ice.

I also always use tools with wrist loops of leashless tools with a spring leash attached to a harness or over the shoulder sling. Obviously dropping a tool is a no-no, but the leashes give you a second chance if, say, your feet pop.
Monk - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:
> (In reply to Monk)
> [...]
>
> Well, it happens, and when it does the consequences are often fatal. Having witnessed someone fall from a grade III winter climb while soloing and having been the one who had to deal with the mess I can tell you now that I'm not a fan.
>

Yeah, I know. I wasn't trying to convey bravado, but to add balance and rationality to the previous poster. Most people who climb winter routes work on the premise that you don't fall off, and soloing is no different really. The rope adds a degree of safety, but we all know that there are routes where belays leave something to be desired. Most people would happily solo grade I, and they are common descent routes. Where the individual draws the line of acceptability has to be down to them on the basis of the level of risk they are willing to accept and a judgement on their ability.
AG - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Monk:
> (In reply to afshapes)
> [...]
>
> The consequences of falling while soloing are pretty serious. But how often do people fall on grade III?
People fall from grade 1's and even from slips on paths....someone fell down ben lui central gully last weekend
Milesy - on 27 Feb 2013
That is my sort of thinking. Keeping in mind that with Good Friday Climb you are soloing and need to be on the ball for a long time up Observatory Gully and the traverse long before you rope up for the gully proper. Ive been up Observatory gully where a slip at the top would see you sliding across the caviar crumpets and ruining someones elevenses in the CIC, and other times a slip would be just a mouth full of snow.
Milesy - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to AG:
> People fall from grade 1's and even from slips on paths....someone fell down ben lui central gully last weekend

That is true but a slip on a many grade I ground are likely to be just as serious as off grade III pitch onto grade I ground. I think the fall from the pitch is not the problem, it can be the grade I ground and terrain contained within afterwards that is likely to be the deciding factor, particulatly in bomber neve conditions.
Monk - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to AG:
> (In reply to Monk)
> [...]
> People fall from grade 1's and even from slips on paths....someone fell down ben lui central gully last weekend

I know. I guess I am not getting my point across very well. People will always have accidents in the hills on all grades, whether soloing or otherwise. All we can do is balance the risks that we find personally justifiable with our personal skill level, and make decisions on the level of challenge we wish to tackle accordingly.

Chateauneuf du Boeuf - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: This probably isn't the sort of thing to be asking advice on. But anyway. I'm not sure about your motivation, it seems to be borne somewhat out of frustration. I used to spend ages frustrated about not being able to get out when the conditions were good, due to school, not having someone to drive me etc. Its a good job i didn't live near any ice or I may have been tempted. But what I would say is soloing shouldn't be in place of a partner, when I went soloing in winter it was because I didn't want the faff of climbing with other people, for the speed of movement and the feelings of competency. I'd done a lot of routes with a rope.

Soling in winter isn't like say just nipping off to the local gritstone crag and soloing a load of VS's you know like the back of your hand in the setting sun with others around you. You have to get on the train (in your car), walk for a while, maybe camp, then walk in) its all this time alone where you really think to yourself whether your that keen on doing it. If your just doing it for want of a partner its this stage that will probably find you out. Once your on the route, that's the enjoyable part.

I didn't stop soloing because of an experience while soloing but due to a fall with a rope on, it made me think. Try to experience a lot of things with a rope on before you eschew it for whatever reason.
Fergal - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

it helps if you feel immortal, doubt is your enemy, remain positive. this may sound obvious, but you really don't want to have nagging doubts, half way through the crux. soloing as a super hero is the way forward, if you meet other parties "stand back citizen this is a job for .... in tandem as Batman and Robin would be stellar, would really like to do this!.

SC by the way is usually a little delicate on the crux. Good Friday is a lot more exposed but technically easier.
Petarghh - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: If you have to ask then you probably shouldn't

Pete.
Jamie B - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

It would be a brave man who advised you (or anyone else) to solo anything. I'm not feeling brave today, but for what it's worth I suspect that most soloists have some experience of harder ground, to give some safety margin.
Nath93 - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Petarghh: That was my initial thought, but i can't say much as i'm hardly a winter veteran.
mcdweeb - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

Milesy, there's a basic rule you're forgetting.
solo grade 1 (in ideal conditions) when you can cruise grade 3
solo grade 3 (if you must) when you can cruise grade 5
Only a hill - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to mcdweeb:
> (In reply to Milesy)
>
> Milesy, there's a basic rule you're forgetting.
> solo grade 1 (in ideal conditions) when you can cruise grade 3
> solo grade 3 (if you must) when you can cruise grade 5

I don't think this is a hard and fast rule.

My brother has never climbed a IV or V in his life yet is a proficient and active Grade III soloist.
Petarghh - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: grade III isnt hard, but a soloist should be experienced enough to make their own decisions, as when they're dangling from tools half way up said solo they don't have the collected wisdom of UKC telling them what to do. its just them and the route.

if there is any hesitation then never ever start a solo. it should feel like climbing the stairs.


Pete.
stevieweesaxs107 - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to mcdweeb: I'm No ur Fav Person however was gonna say the same as above.
If ur cruising higher grades then no bother as its always good to have a grade or two spare,I've soloed a lot of 3s manily bcoz of the FAFF of ropes and waiting around and lately no dependable climbing mates so soloing was the only way to get me about it I was cruising 4/5 at the time and was out every week, its not the route itself that worries me its the exits with no ropes or gear and if something goes tits up your in the shit! so its good to have the experience of higher grades if u do helps you keep your cool

Conditions have been great with bomber conds so go for it, I'd do sc gully
But wouldn't solo good friday , great route tho
Think I'm doing sc gully Mora solo ur welcome to come :-)
chrisicles - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
Im going to be honest- if you have a kid why are you considering soloing something with doubt in your mind about it?
Goucho on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: Whenever you are soloing, you should always have something in reserve grade wise, and experience wise.

Grade III's are often pretty straightforward, but that doesn't mean that they can't throw some steep borderline Grade IV at you from time to time.

Alex Slipchuk on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to Milesy)
>
> It would be a brave man who advised you (or anyone else) to solo anything. I'm not feeling brave today, but for what it's worth I suspect that most soloists have some experience of harder ground, to give some safety margin.

+1
Jamie B - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Goucho:

> Grade III's are often pretty straightforward, but that doesn't mean that they can't throw some steep borderline Grade IV at you from time to time.

Not always bordeline - I've encountered IV,5 climbing on supposed grade IIIs. Winter grading is by definition approximate, if you climb enough at any grade you will inevitably end up de facto climbing at the grade above. At these times you have to look deep in your locker for that something extra. I find this easier with a rope and protection.

BenTiffin - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: I gave up soloing when I opted to have kids. I used to solo quite a lot up to E1/Scottish IV. For me it is not worth it any more, as mouth watering as the conditions are - in fact I have been verging on being very down oggling at what is being done on the Ben at the moment. Is the baby dependant on you? I assume the answer is yes and therefore, anything which you could come a cropper on ain't worth it, especially if close to your normal lead limit.

Ben

Willie Munro - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: I was thinking that soloing a grade 3, if it's well within your capabilities may be a goer, but then you mention a baby. there are periods in life when risk and responsibilities have more significance than at other periods.
Milesy - on 27 Feb 2013
Wise words from all. I dont think I have that much doubt actually. I have talked myself into it and was just seeing if I could talk myself out of it.

Part of it is out of frustration, but also part for the other reasons. Not being on a time table, more having other people reply on me rather than the other way about. Being able to back off something and not ruining someone else's day.

Circumstances collude to prevent me doing anything at all and I like the idea of of being able to expore and be nosy on a whim without.

I think I would rather solo some stuff than not do anything at all if I know the conditions and weather is good. Sure things like top outs can be hairy but arent they a lot of the time run out on rope as well anyway and I would arm myself with beta where nessessary of course. I know the top out on SC isnt bad just now so I am not worried about it.
joe king - on 27 Feb 2013
soloing is for people who are either selfish or those who will not be missed if they die....

I am sure your child will not be happy if you "died doing what you loved" .....I have never understood that saying
cannichoutdoors - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: Getting routes in good condition is the key (an acquaintance was killed soloing grade I in poor conditions). Route selection is also key - i was involved in the rescue of a soloist who fell off an ice route that was supposedly III (although I never believed the grade for that route!) and he suffered multiple fractures of the vertebrae and pelvis. It's worth checking the landing zone (don't have a 40ft drop) and run out from the harder bits of the climb.

Having said that, soloing can be a rewarding experience, and I understand the frustrations, and have had some great days out soloing easy routes (up to III) myself when partners aren't available. However, frustration can lead us to take bigger risks than we might normally, and sometimes it is braver to turn back (have a back up objective), but you probably know that. As an adult you make your own decisions based on your own risk assessment.

If you decide to do it, consider Staghorn Gully on Meagaidgh. It had big bucket steps and an easy exit a week ago. Stay safe whatever you decide to do.
richparry - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

I soloed good friday climb a long time ago. I was quite comfortable soloing III's and it went fine, but during breaks in the cloud, when I could see the drop below I was a bit concerned. One slip and that would have been it. It had never really been a consideration of mine until that point.
Having witnessed first hand a few years later, someone falling from the exit chimney on Orion direct and see them fly past me, Im not sure I'd do it now, although I have soloed lots of other things since.
In good conditions the climbing on these routes isn't very hard , but I think there is an element of luck when you are soloing in winter, no matter how experienced you are.

If I were you, I'd try and find someone to climb with and do something else. Good Friday climb isn't that good a line anyway.

drmarten on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to richparry:
I enjoyed Good Friday, conditions were great so perhaps that contributed. For Milesy I'm not going to offer much except perhaps maybe lower your soloing sights a wee bit back down into a zone where you're very comfortable and you can still have a good day. I solo I/II and feel comfortable but at the back of your mind is that small slip that hopefully wouldn't ruin a roped and protected climb but would seriously spoil your day otherwise. Don't let a desire to do a route lead you into a situation where you may regret it, and I do understand the frustrations of time off/weather/conditions/partners etc all needing to come together. You may well solo the climb with everything clicking into place, but it is winter and you are probably aware that things don't always pan out perfectly.
Is it the Guinness advert that says, "Good things come to those who wait"?
Euge - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: What I don't get is that you climb Grade III and want to solo that grade, that sounds crazy! I have climbed V and wouldn't consider soloing III. You just don't know what you will get!!!

Examples are The Vent and Gardyloo Gully... they can range from IV to I depending on conditions!!!

Just my 2p...

E
Euge - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to mcdweeb)
> [...]
>
> I don't think this is a hard and fast rule.
>
> My brother has never climbed a IV or V in his life yet is a proficient and active Grade III soloist.

No.. but it is a good rule :o)

E
mrchewy - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: I've soloed some Grade IV, once down a short pitche of vertical ice with one axe. I had my first leader fall on Sunday, on the crux of a Grade III. Totally unexpected, felt safe as houses but my glove didn't grip the rock and off I slid. My planted axe that I wasn't holding happened to catch my fall. Well done the BD spinner leash.

I fully understand where you are coming from - I'm not too keen on leading. The rope alone and being responsible for someone else's safety add a nervousness to my climbing that's not there when I'm on my own.

I was glad to have a belayer and a rope on on Sunday tho, even tho it was the spinner that caught me. Loose rock AND loose snow or ice can add up to make even a Grade I dangerous but I'm sure you're aware of that.
BnB - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

Certain climbing manuals give instruction on solo climbing with a rope (usually in the context of rescuing a stranded partner, but applicable to other situations as well). This won't make you fast and light (quite the opposite) but it could allow you out in partnerless circumstances onto terrain that warrants some protection.

I'd refer to the manuals rather than to a keyboard warrior and I'm not advocating you adopt these procedures but I am throwing it out for discussion:

I recall you need a basic winter rack and as much rope as you're happy carrying but it might work well with something light like 30m of Beal Iceline because you're unlikely to be climbing sustained verticals. The idea is to use the rope to protect the steeper pitches but not the easier ground in between. Here's what I recall (but please don't rely on my ageing faculties):

Find 2-3 bomber anchors at the foot of each pitch (slung boulders are best), rigged for an upwards and (ideally also downwards) pull. Tie both ends into the anchors. Then (in the case of a half rope like the Iceline) flake the rope out carefully and tie into the middle of the rope and tie each strand to your tie-in about 3m and 6m from the two anchored ends and then clove hitch each strand near the anchors to two HMSs and climb as if leading two seconds. Get a runner in early for each strand and continue placing runners and adjusting the clove hitches and short tie-ins (you'll need the slack to make upwards progress) to the top of the difficulty/crux so that any fall factor is minimised. 15m climbing length ought to be plenty to clear grade II/III difficulties, 5m is more likely enough. Then rig top anchors with redundancy for the pitch and downclimb (or abseil even) on a prussik or device removing runners as you go. Finally, release bottom anchors and reascend on your top anchor using a prussik or device. This is fiddly because the knot/device needs feeding with hands already occupied by an axe. On the other hand, you get to do the exciting bits twice!!

The tolerances of a half rope would probably allow for it to be used as a single on short pitches like this which makes for much easier rope management but the manufacturers wouldn't recommend it I'm sure, so use a single rope for easier management if preferred.

This is a laborious technique, and very slow, but, if you want to feel better protected climbing alone, it might suit small pitches of medium difficulty, sandwiched between grade I ground. It wouldn't suit any climb of sustained verticality or pitches without rock anchors. And the complexities of the procedure could lead to confusion, poor rope management, and distracted climbing just where concentration is most required.

Certainly I wouldn't recommend this method as safe. Staying at home is much safer. There is no partner to organise a rescue in the event of a fall resulting in injury. And the complexity of the procedure carries its own risks. But it might provide confidence climbing alone on dangerous ground, in summer and in winter. And I hope I've accurately remembered all the stages. Here's a link to a source on the web:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=J5_sl0YR9eUC&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=bottom+anchor+for+...

I'm sure someone far more knowledgeable and experienced than me can point out any flaws/omissions or indeed suggest any improvements to the procedure
mick taylor - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: Soloing at your leading grade is reckless - but I like a degree of recklessness!!! I have been (and often still am) in a similar position to you and feel well jealous when hearing about great conditions and I'm stuck in wigan being a dad and all that. Your baby is doing its job well - getting your attention and keeping you awake so you don't go climbing! I would knock it on the head this year, get ready for next winter (and the next etc) and go for it then. I almost always solo now, love it to bits, but reckon you enjoy it more when you have plenty in reserve (eg I can climb WI 4/5 and solo grade 3+ ).
My top tip - tricep extensions and wrist curls.
CurlyStevo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
I agree with others - you'll probably be scared out of your mind soloing at your best lead grade, in your position (in fact probably mine too ;) I wouldn't solo harder than II.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Milesy - on 28 Feb 2013
I aspire to lead IV and V some day. I won't be content sitting at II and III all my days. And not because of wanting to bag the grade itself but becauses of the quality and position of the routes I have seen for years and been in awe at.

arhhh :)
Milesy - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to mick taylor:
> My top tip - tricep extensions and wrist curls.

Already do both in abundance. Been training my grip, wrists and forearms and my axes already feel strong and secure in my hands. Training like a demon in all areas just now. Pretty much stopped going out getting drunk and partying (I like to sip a single malt though) to get myself im prime fitness! The inevitable happens. The season finishes and I havent managed to get out much due to circumstances and there is nothing to do but start going out drinking with my mates again which I dont want to do! Sick of it now.
CurlyStevo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
There's plenty of cool stuff to do in spring / summer with your increased fitness. My next objective after winter (I'm hoping for one more weekend preferably in Scotland), is a 4 day trip to Skye in May including Cuillin ridge in a day and some of the classic long HS -> HVS including the Integrity combo. Come summer then looking at increasing my lead grade a bit locally and then off to the alps for two weeks, which will probably be my high light of the year, although a week skiing and ice climbing in Cogne a couple of weeks back was pretty damned good!.
CurlyStevo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
A lot of it depends on you. Personally in good conditions I often don't find grade III neve /ice that necky, I'll happily run things out on good picks and often get so absorbed in the climbing, I forget about the run outs or even placing much protection (it's almost an after thought). There's been plenty of grade III leads I would have soloed, problem is you can't be sure before you set off!
mick taylor - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: Know the feeling (but my fitness programme involves drinking!). Here's a thought - whilst euro style ice cragging doesn't really prepare for Scottish winter stuff, it is brilliant at developing ice technique and hence confidence. In preparation for the influence of babies etc, I went to Colorado, including Ouray, and my ice technique shot upwards and this defo improved skill and confidence when soloing back here.

DH3631 - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: For what it's worth, I did SC yesterday and it couldn't have been much friendlier. Personally I felt it was almost a soft touch for III but obviously routes like this can vary a lot, also that is from the viewpoint of having plenty of experience on III-V ground. Not much of a soloist myself but would tend to agree with people suggesting that experience of harder grades than the intended solo would help, if for no other reason than in the event of having a wee wobble, you can always say to yourself 'get a grip, it's only grade III'.
Having said all that, if your primary motivation is frustration at lack of partners and inability to get out, have you considered a day or two with a guide? May seem like a bit of an outlay but if you treat it not just as hiring a partner but also a learning experience, both in terms of technical stuff, and also, being in the company of someone who should be very confident on this sort of ground, it may be quite worthwhile.
Milesy - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to DH3631:

Thanks. That is why I was considering SC primarily as I have been watching the conditions of it. I have been up to the ramp before and climbed back down (wasnt in condition) and I sat and watched people on it last Thursday and got a good look at the top out as well. So it wasnt a case of me jumping on something blindly.
rossn - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: I dont know about your personal circumstances but I used to do a bit of soloing and stopped because of the effect an accident would have on family etc, amplified or made more evident by having an accident myself and then being with freind who had an accident. Before anyone else comments I know this still applies to conventional climbing but the risk is vastly reduced. If you want to solo a winter route I would suggest a mountaineering route like Curved RidgeII/III or Tower Ridge IV(3) where the lack of gear, rope etc is quite liberating and technical difficulty is low. You've still got the potential for a fatal fall particularly on Tower Ridge from and including the eastern traverse to the other side and above the gap but the rest of the climb suits this minimilistic approach. But personally, and I think age changes attitude as well as I approach 50, I wouldnt do it.

RN
Only a hill - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
Regarding my earlier post on this thread (in which I mentioned my brother's remarkable soloing powers), it has since been pointed out to me by someone whose views I respect that this could be misinterpreted as recommending soloing. I certainly wouldn't ever recommend any such thing, even though I've done my fair share of it!

Milesy, why don't you drop my brother a line and have a chat with him about it? I suspect he'll be able to provide a useful point of view. Best of luck whatever you decide to do.
Milesy - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

Thanks Alex. I would never take any action directly based on anyones advice so dont worry about that. Anything I will will be the result of deep thinking and consideration.

For climbing with a partner a later start is definately of benefit to me and I would rather be last on the route and walk off in the dark and be climbing with a fresh head and motivation than an early start to be first on a route and having lunch back at the car.

I have seen people arrive for a route on The Ben to be at the back of a 1.5 hour queue and stay in the queue. Why not just have an extra 1.5 hours in your pit in that case??
mick taylor - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to rossn: TBH, I think those suggested solos are strange choices given the posters prerequisites. I'd rather solo an in nick point five than tower ridge (as long as I was first on route).
Robert Durran - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to rossn:
> If you want to solo a winter route I would suggest a mountaineering route like Curved RidgeII/III or Tower Ridge IV(3) where the lack of gear, rope etc is quite liberating and technical difficulty is low.

Good heavens. Ice routes such as Good Friday or SC would, in decent conditions, be far,far more amenable solos than Tower Ridge or even Curved Ridge. Are you actually trying to kill him? I've soloed quite a few Nevis V's but I don't think I would solo Tower Ridge without back-roping the tricky bits.
fairweatherclimber - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

I always remember completing my first mortgage applicationm, and having to answer detaield questions about various outdoor pursuits I did and specifically the type of climbing.

The only activity that wasn't covered by insurance was winter soloing.
Those actuaries spend their lives studying what kills people and what risks the banks/ building societies should take (i.e. us).
CurlyStevo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
Aye I was thinking I'd much rather solo ice and neve than mixed cruxes myself, if your climbing well on ice each pick is a belay!
Milesy - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> Aye I was thinking I'd much rather solo ice and neve than mixed cruxes myself, if your climbing well on ice each pick is a belay!

That is exactly how I felt on NC Gully last week. Every single pick placement was bomber. At no point did I think a placement would let me down. My grivel springer leash to my harness although not rated to hold fall, it has done for many (Andy Kirkpatrick for example) and I felt at times I was on belay. Not that I would be throwing myself off on to them at any time, but I certainly think they would hold a low impact slip on neve. My footwork is decent anyway.
mick taylor - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Robert Durran: Agreed. Incompetence and dodgy snow led to a friend of mine falling the whole length of curved ridge to below the waterslide. Reckoned his framed rucksack stopped his head getting pulverised as he bum slid and catapulted through the air! His helmet was still in his rucksack!!!
niallk on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

It seems to me an odd sequence of logic/motivation that gets you from the threat of your (new-born?) baby keeping you awake to soloing Winter routes.

If the problem is lack of sleep, should this not be the problem you look to resolve rather than side-step the impact of that problem. There are other ways of resolving this which would seem preferable (to me at least).

- If the baby sleeps in your room could you not consider sleeping in a spare room or on the couch, with ear-plugs.
- Sleep round your partners' house the night before (with a therm-a-rest and sack if no spare bed/couch).
- Go for a good run/cycle etc the evening before to tire yourself
- Acknowledge that with a dependent child in your life you may have to make concessions in other areas - possibly greater than you initially anticipated but presumably not forever (admittedly this said as somebody without a child).

If you're simply intent on soloing then that's a different question and one for yourself, I imagine. Though if you're seeking to somehow justify an emergent desire to solo this again seems an odd justification, to me at least.

The above is meant in good faith and constructively, from somebody who struggles to sleep with an early start ahead of them and know how much a grind that can be (and that's without a kid!)
deanstonmassif on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

Are you really up to it at the moment, physically and mentally? I know what it's like having a baby and feeling frustrated at not being able to get out climbing, but tis a temporary thing. If you're getting out soloing enough, then build up your standard and confidence; don't put yourself under pressure to get something done when there are more important things happening in your life.
Trangia - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> > Now with current conditions being nice and consolidated am I being reckless in my thinking?

The fact that you feel the need to ask the question without just going and doing it with confidence suggests, yes
smithaldo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy: With a new baby arrived I am doing everything I can to minimise risk when climbing, to the extent of going to norway for my weekend away instead of scotland when the conditions looked dangerous.

Soloing winter routes is certainly not minimising risk, especially when they are not a few grades under your max. No matter how good condition they are in silly things can happen to you that if roped wouldnt kill you but if soloing would.

Also, your spring leashes might hold, but the axes would 99.9% rip through neve when shock loaded if you fell onto them. You cant have a low impact slip if it means your tethers get loaded.

All in all rather you than me!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Chateauneuf du Boeuf - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

> I have seen people arrive for a route on The Ben to be at the back of a 1.5 hour queue and stay in the queue. Why not just have an extra 1.5 hours in your pit in that case??

I do think this is a bit daft especially when there is loads in condition as there is at the moment. While I buy into the staying in bed longer bit, I'm not sure if its a great idea when soloing. I once did a big gully on the Ben starting out at 3pm, no spindrift, rocks or ice coming down. I wouldn't have liked to be soloing it though, its nice not to have to be worrying about it getting dark. Basically if your soloing you'll have to get up early - I'd rather have a rope on when I'm tired, winter climbing having had 2-3 hrs sleep was quite a normal thing for me, as I suspect it is for many coming up from Glasgow/Edinburgh and beyond.
Simon Caldwell - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Chateauneuf du Boeuf:
> no spindrift, rocks or ice coming down

Something the OP might like to think about - what if you're soloing the crux and get hit by a large lump of ice?
Fergal - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Toreador:

What if you are soloing and your crampon falls off? this happened to me soloing the Orion, I nonchalantly put it back on, had a conversation with a pair in zero, think they were more scared than me, (this was back in the eighties with shitty Cassin step ins) the moral be prepared, solo with umbilicals and I would have a fifi attached to my harness, this saved me in this situation.
CurlyStevo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Fergal:
where do you put the fifi so it doesn't fall out but you can get it easily? Seems like a silly question but I didn't fully resolve this issue whilst in cogne for a week!
Chateauneuf du Boeuf - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: larks footed round the belay loop.
CurlyStevo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Chateauneuf du Boeuf:
aye I got that much ;)
Fergal - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I would just stuff the hook behind the harness belt, this seemed to work fine, if it does drop, it doesn't really hinder progress, just more annoying than anything, although this didn't happen often.
Joak - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Chateauneuf du Boeuf)
> [...]
>
> Something the OP might like to think about - what if you're soloing the crux and get hit by a large lump of ice?

Me and my mate were a good way up number 2 gully on the Ben climbing unroped when I got clocked on the cheekbone with wee bit of ice from above. Felt like I was punched, the bleeding and subsequent bruising way out of proportion to the offending skittery wee bit of frozen water. Glad it wisnae a large lump!!
CurlyStevo - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Fergal:
yeah I settled on that in the end too but it did fall out although less often than the other places I tried first.
Michael Gordon - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:

If you've felt good on both III leads and II solos then I guess that's not bad preparation. Of course feeling good on IV/V leads would be better.
Milesy - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Joak:

I was going up Observatory Gully one morning and someone was hacking off ice on Smith's Route. I could see them. All of a sudden ice was belting past my face and god knows what speed and making whoooooom whooom noises like bullets in movie. Another time in a thaw ice and rocks came belting down on us on Waterfall Gully at the belay on top of the ice. Nearly took him off his feet and he is about 16 stone.

I am not soloing anything serious tomorrow now. Not looking good for me. Maybe after weekend :) Might go do No 3 gully or something to get out.
Nath93 - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> I aspire to lead IV and V some day. I won't be content sitting at II and III all my days. And not because of wanting to bag the grade itself but becauses of the quality and position of the routes I have seen for years and been in awe at. >

A guy i climbed with last month said that V is the grade to get to, so many classic routes to be done at that level.
Rstone - on 28 Feb 2013
In reply to Milesy:
I'm a big fan of winter soloing, many new routes in the new north wales guide on the ladders and craig Dafydd all on sight and up tp VI 6 plus many big classics. Doesn't mean its a good thing though. My best lead has been VII 7 /8.
My best advice is that soloing is a very personal and obviously dangerous occupation and in my experience there are no substitutes for extensive experience of conditions at your chosen venue and CONFIDENCE.
If you thrive on being scared and run out (and have lots of experience of it) that kind of confidence will help in winter soloing.
Stamina will help a lot too because you may find yourself going up and down a section a few times before you commit.
Conditions that I find best are after freeze thaw cycles plenty of neve and snow ice, (well stripped back helps you see more too).
I usually test the water ice, snow ice, turf and neve by seeing if it will hold a one axe pull up, if it does then I feel happy to solo even steep VI ground.
Wear a harness the first few times and take a bit of gear and a rope for emergency bail out and confidence. Sometimes tying yourself off while you sort your head out will save the day,.....its not cheating its staying alive.....just record it as such if on a new route.
Remember the potential variables are immense.
Hope this helps, good look to ya and be safe, once you commit be confident but steady. Enjoy
Euge - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to Milesy: You wouldn't have wanted to solo SC gully this weekend. Melting fast...

E
stevieweesaxs107 - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to Euge: No3 gully? Off all the things to do on the Ben,especially in stonking conditions clearly indicates your state of mind, if I was training like a Demon and confident on
Steeper ground no way I'd be heading for a decent route
No2 gully, north gully, Garadh gully,ledge route wud have been good options, or even the cic cascades has some steep grade3 sections u cud have practised on surely that wud have had been more beneficial in giving u ice time and more experience
Leading to your target of Sc gully and good friday

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.