/ Zero Gully : Quality of the belays views welcomed
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.
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.
Thanks David , very useful
Thanks , useful comments
Thanks , useful & consistent views on being slightly easier than the Point & Hadrians but more seriois
Thanks Ben , much appreciated
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
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.
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!.
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.
We belayed on reasonably poor screws
No rock belays - there was an in place rock runner just before the traverse right mentioned above, (this was in 1998 ish though!)
Soloed it - not much harder than grade II and not as long as the top section of Point 5
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.)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!.
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.
It is classis and I'm sure I'll do it again. When I don't feel sick with fear.
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.
> 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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