/ Zero Gully : Quality of the belays views welcomed

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Sean Toms - on 28 Jan 2013
Hello , we are seeking to climb Zero gully to add to the other grade 5 classics of Point 5 , Hadrians Walls Direct & Smiths Route that some or all of the likely group of 2/3 have already done.

I would welcome some comments BUT from only those that have actually climbed the route.

Q : How easy was it to find decent belays at the top of pitch 1 & pitch 2

Q : Did you manage to find rock belays , if so were these using pegs , nuts or what ?

On the upper pitches were you belaying on deadmen only or was there any decent ice or indeed rock belays ( rock unlikely I know )

If you have climbed Point Five , Hadrians , Smith etc how would you compare the route in terms of difficulty & or seriousness with these ?

Politely , but as above ALL advice very welcome but ONLY if you have actually climbed Zero Gully ......if you haven't please do not respond.

Many thanks

David Rose - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms: As with any ice route, conditions make a lot of difference to the difficulty. I climbed it in good conditions with a lot of thick ice, which meant there were good ice screw belays. The rock belays at the tops of the first two pitches were not so good, as I recall. I have also done Point Five, Hadrian's and Smith's. I would say Zero is technically a little easier and less sustained than all of them, though Smith's is obviously shorter, but it is perhaps more serious than the others because of the lack of solid rock belays. On the upper pitches (ie above the main steep bits) we didn't belay at all. It was basically just a snow plod.
Harry Holmes - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms: I didn't lead the first pitch so I dont remember what the belay was but at the top of the second pitch I used a couple of snow bollards. The rest was done mostly on ice axe belays, although Im sure I remember getting a nut in on for one belay.
Harry Holmes - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to naffan: And in comparison to point five I found it easier, all be it more serious
TeeBee on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

We did it in less-than-ideal conditions, though not dreadful. I seem to remember pegs being present at the top of pitches 1 & 2. I think the third belay may have been a bit hopeful, but after that things were firming up and we just moved together to the top as the ground got less steep.

I think I'd agree with previous comments regarding difficulty and seriousness.
Scott Kirkhope - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms: I also remember alright rock belays on the left at the top of the first two pitches. We also moved together up the final parts with some rock gear (again on the left) and some screws. If the ice is good it was also possible to belay on screws at certain points on the lower pitches.
BenTiffin - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms: Definitely more serious but easier technically. I led what I suspect may have been the first two pitches in one (up the wide groove and then up the steep rib/wall on the right) due to their having been nothing satisfactory to belay off. At the top of this there was a flat topped spike on the L of the continuation gully which was fine with a downward pull. Beyond that I forget as I didn't lead it but the upper part, just like .5 is moving together. A cracking route.


Ben
Sean Toms - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to davidoldfart:

Thanks David , very useful
Sean Toms - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to naffan:

Thanks , useful comments
Sean Toms - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to TeeBee:

Thanks , useful & consistent views on being slightly easier than the Point & Hadrians but more seriois
Sean Toms - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to BenTiffin:

Thanks Ben , much appreciated
Withnail - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

Hi sean,

Have done zero and point 5, still to do hardians and smiths.

*zero is definately technically easier than point 5

*belay at end of pitch 1 was a couple tied off screws and axes when we did it. Straight after pitch 1 there was a short slabby traverse right to get onto good ice. Falling here wouldve been factor 2 onto a crap belay but good ice screws/climbing after. The actual steep bits of ice in between this belay held good screws. Dont remember much rock protection

*belay at end of pitch 2, good screws belay

*higher up was probably grade 2 in decent conditions when we did it. the belays/protection were errm not good. A fall here at the wrong point would lead to everyone having a very bad day out...

Have you done last post on meagaidth?-i think the climbing on zero is similar but the belays are worse.

Probably most important is to have an idea of good snow conditions on the upper easier section before heading up.

Hope that helps

Have fun

Jon


Andy Nisbet - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

I guided it a few years ago in OK but not great conditions (no ice screws usable). None of my belays would have held a leader fall, and only the one after the first pitch was on rock (and it wasn't great). Not difficult climbing though.
The Grist - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms: it may be worth taking a cam or two for the top of the first pitch. I recall when I did it I thought I could get a cam in above me. I did not have one. The belay we made was rubbish but may have held a fall. I would like to think it would have. The crux is the first 8 metres after the first belay. After that it is easy. Belayed using a stake I have made higher up.
nniff - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

We had belays for pitches 1 and 2 and not a lot worthwhile after that. A few decent screws along the way. None of the unconsolidated snow to which Cold Climbs refers, but some minging, falling apart ice at one point from which it would have been exceptionally ill-advised to fall, for both parties. Pretty straightforward, bar that, and except for the bit that I made a complete arse of (fortunately on the blunt end at that point). No worse than any other Scottish route you shouldn't fall off, which is most of them really!.
wilkesley - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to nniff:

When I did it (c 1985) there was a peg at the top of the initial groove. Note I didn't belay there. However, the peg protected the traverse (it was above my head), as there wasn't much ice on it.

Some way above this was a rounded bollard, which other parties had obviously used as a belay. However, I didn't fancy this, as I could only get a poor sling over it and would have had to sit on it to belay. I could see some pegs below the ice bulge above me, so I headed up for them.

About 10ft short of these I couldn't pull any more rope through. I knew my second must have started climbing as I was way more than 50m from the bottom. I was keen to get to the pegs and could hear muffled shouts for slack from below. Apparently he had reached the peg and by trying to keep the rope tight, I was trying to pull him through it.

Luckily, there was another party belayed at the pegs above me and by tying some slings together and throwing them up to the party above, I managed to get clipped to the pegs and let out some slack. My partner lead the bulge and we moved together for the rest up perfect neve.

We didn't have any ice screws (don't ask) and were climbing on a double 5mm rope, so the only gear was the peg at the top of the groove, the pegs below the bulge and a very poor sling over a rounded bollard.

The route as a whole wasn't as hard as Point Five, but much more serious.
Exile - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

> Q : How easy was it to find decent belays at the top of pitch 1 & pitch 2

We belayed on reasonably poor screws

> Q : Did you manage to find rock belays , if so were these using pegs , nuts or what ?

No rock belays - there was an in place rock runner just before the traverse right mentioned above, (this was in 1998 ish though!)

> On the upper pitches were you belaying on deadmen only or was there any decent ice or indeed rock belays ( rock unlikely I know )

Soloed it - not much harder than grade II and not as long as the top section of Point 5

> If you have climbed Point Five , Hadrians , Smith etc how would you compare the route in terms of difficulty & or seriousness with these ?

Easier to climb but more serious, (the V 4 grade says it all against the other routes V 5s. It's more serious than other V 4 routes that I've done; Indicator Wall Left Hand, Pumpkin, Observatory Buttress, South Post Direct.)



Big Lee - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

When I climbed the route snow began to fall about half an hour prior to us reaching the base. By the time we were at the bottom of the route spin drift was already coming down the face and funnelling straight onto the first belay with some impressive force. I quickly pushed through the first belay as a result and ended up belaying off an icicle at full 60m rope stretch. Overall felt easier than the other routes you mention. I don't remember being that gripped. Upper pitches are a doddle. That said, I've met climbers who climbed Zero from bottom to the top top of the steep bit without finding a single runner so you have been warned.
Ronbo - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:
we soloed halfway up the first pitch and belayed on screws, not fantastic, at the top of the first pitch the belay was on the right on screws I think it was ok. I lead the following pitch, I remember a snow bay with a chimney exit, there was no gear in the bay but I got a belay above on 60m ropes on the right wall a tricam and 2 pegs 1 in situ on the right wall, as it is easier thereafter I think we untied.
Less good belays than point 5 at the top of pitch 1, but all the belays were better than any I remember on Orion!
Fergal - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

Perhaps you should grow a bigger pair and solo it, each axe placement should be considered a belay, less faff the feeling of exposure and uncluttered movement is immense, but who am i to comment i haven't climbed it with a rope, two solo ascents one with the supremely gifted Andy de Klirk (remember him powered by black coffee and custard creams) and another with the night climbing legend, John the "bastard" Main, to be thoroughly recomended, have soloed all the routes you mention, numerous times, if the belays really are that poor and this worries you, solo, even in tandem with a rope carried for back up, the experience is one to savour, Ben nevis routes are prime for this.
John Workman - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:

Back in the days when I climbed Zero [twice], we went left at the top of the first big gully pitch and belayed on rock [not great but no bad] in a kind of grove. We then continued up this lefthand line to a reasonable rock spike and then traversed right back into the gully bed for a belay. From there it was one more shortish steep ice bulge up the main gully bed then the difficulties were pretty much over.
Last time I tried it, a couple of years back it looked like the way was to go right, continuing on ice, at the top of the first big gully pitch.
Is this the more ‘normal’ way now?
We backed off due to too much water running down the ice.
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Ron Walker - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to John Workman:

When I climbed it direct in the early nineties we went up the RHS on thick steep ice and I think belayed off a deadman, driven axe or bollard with the odd snarg or warthog for a runner!. We then continued up the easier Grade 2 upper gully with buried axe and a deadman for belays at awkward steps, but mainly moved together. I don't remember many good rock belays but do remember thinking you have to have confidence in your climbing partner and not fall off!
Gael Force - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms: No belays, we only took a deadman and soloed after the first 2 pitches. Very good conditions.
Fergal - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to the OP:

Did i really just say grow a pair, i guess what i was trying to say, that for a route like zero, supreme confidence is required, if you are fit and climbing comfortably within the grade, soloing is no more serious than using a rope with psychological belays, as Patey once said " the leader must not fall, so take away the rope", for reference the hut poker was used as a belay on the first ascent!.
wilkesley - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Andrew Clarke:

The pro might be limited, but it's still useful! On my ascent (see my post above), the crux was probably the traverse right from the top of the initial groove, as there wasn't much ice. At that point I had the peg at the top of the groove above my head. There is also a good belay at the foot of the bulge.
alasdair19 on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms: I spent 11 hours in zero gully. Mostly spent finding belays they do exist apart from the slightly dodgy 1st belay and rounded spike on the second (this took a angle peg which i thought was crap at the time but i then couldn't get it out)

It is classis and I'm sure I'll do it again. When I don't feel sick with fear.
Fergal - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to wilkesley:

Horses for courses, Zero solo for a confident ice climber with good conditions is a pretty trivial affair these days, albiet just don't fall off, i agree for a conventional ascent, protection, even marginal and sometimes stuff you wouldn't even hang a coat on, will give a real psychological boost to the wary.
A Snow bollard in good hard snow has saved a leader in Zero from a full rope length fall, i know a guy who took a 200ft fall onto a wobbly ice screw in snow ice and it held, go figure, so yes i am not dismissing climbers that like to pitch, even on serious climbs, this is personal choice, i just have a passion for soloing at times and personaly feel safer, my destiny is in my own hands.
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Ron Walker - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to wilkesley:
> (In reply to Andrew Clarke)
>
> The pro might be limited, but it's still useful! On my ascent (see my post above), the crux was probably the traverse right from the top of the initial groove, as there wasn't much ice. At that point I had the peg at the top of the groove above my head. There is also a good belay at the foot of the bulge.

I've only climbed it with curved axes and a piton hammer and then years later with straight shafted Vertages. However in my humble opinion, with modern ice tools and ice screws it should be a hell of a lot easier and much safer taking the RHS icefall direct and belaying off the ice at the top. Unless there's good ice on the upper pitches, the easier upper snow gully, short ice pitches and exit are probably more of a concern for you looking after less experienced seconds. I wouldn't like to have modern handled ice axes in poorish snow and ice conditions though and I wouldn't fancy guiding it in less than perfect conditions!!!

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