/ Going the wrong way on Castle Ridge

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csw on 23 Feb 2013
So. A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I climbed Castle Ridge on the Ben. Most of it was pretty straightforward, but I found the chimney pitch pretty hard. It seemed a lot harder than grade III ought to be. The route description said, at a band of walls, traverse right to a flaky chimney. A metre or so to the right was a deep, undercut, V, which could have been called a chimney and I believe it had a flake in it. It looked do-able and there were crampon scratches at the base, so, with some effort, I set off up that. Anyway long story short, either I'm getting very weak with old age, or perhaps I was in the wrong chimney, because I found it desperate. Can anyone enlighten me?
Only a hill - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:
It's been a number of years since I climbed the route but that sounds like the right way to me. In March 2008 there was a fixed piton at the base of the crux.

It is indeed fairly hard for Grade III!
csw on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill: Bugger!! I'll think twice before trying anything harder then....
Tim Chappell - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:

Hsve you done Glover's Chimney? That too is 'only' III, but the last bit up to the Gap has always struck me as distinctly technical. If you don't get your tools in the right grooves and place your crampons carefully and accurately, you are not going to do it.
top cat - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

The last time I did this it was only given a Gd II; can't recall owt hard on it. What's changed?

I've done it 3 times up and once down.
Milesy - on 23 Feb 2013
Ive only done it in summer but there was a final crux chimney bit that I done that everyone else bypassed to the left?
Snoweider - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to csw)
>
> Hsve you done Glover's Chimney? That too is 'only' III, but the last bit up to the Gap has always struck me as distinctly technical. If you don't get your tools in the right grooves and place your crampons carefully and accurately, you are not going to do it.

Did that final pitch in the dark with no head torch. Yes it felt hard for III.
csw on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Yep - Done Glovers and this seemed way harder, that's what got me thinking I might have gone the wrong way. Guess my ego will just have to take the hit :)
Doghouse - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:

I don't think the 'V' chimney you did is the correct line. It's some years since I did it but I remember traversing to the base of that from the slab on the left and thinking it looked desperate. I traversed a further 3-4m maybe and found the chimney (seemed to remember it from a summer ascent) and went up that. Got to say though I found that bloody hard too :-) but I don't think you traveresed far enough and the route you went looked *much* harder that III.
Only a hill - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to top cat:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
>
> The last time I did this it was only given a Gd II; can't recall owt hard on it. What's changed?
>
> I've done it 3 times up and once down.

I suppose it depends on your definition of 'hard'!

As far as I know, Castle Ridge has been III for a good 20-25 years, possibly longer. A lot of routes have shifted in grade since then to reflect more accurate grading and changes in average conditions.
Robert Durran - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:

Did it earlier this winter. I would not have argued with IV,5. Pretty sure we went the right way.
Tim Chappell - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:

Of course, things can vary a lot because of the snow build up etc. If you did the top of Glover's when it was plastered in neve', it would be grade I really. Every time I do it (I think it's three times now) it's all been hacked to bits already and there's only rock to go at :-)
csw on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to Doghouse:
> (In reply to csw)
>
> but I don't think you traveresed far enough and the route you went looked *much* harder that III.

I hope so - anyway, my ego thanks you for the lifeline :)

Doghouse - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:

Yep, I'm sure you were of route - I remember looking up that V chimney and thinking "no way!" :-)
In reply to Doghouse: Although the UKC photos of Castle Ridge show the traditional corner and a convincing V-groove.
monkeyme2 - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to nickinscottishmountains: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152292254570526&l=bdfd382f1f

No pictures looking up from it on UKC so here is one I took. The in situ peg mentioned earlier the next runner on the right of the pic I think.

I have other pics that show this from above, but I didn't take them myself, my partner Ben did and I don't know if he would mind me posting them. They show pretty much the same as this pic though.

They show the same as http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=188113














Solaris - on 23 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:

Sounds to me like you were on the route. Martin Moran and Bruce Goodlad gave it III 4 in an article in Climber a while back, iirc.
Jasonic - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to csw: Have done it a couple of times & that sounds like the way we went.
csw on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Jasonic: Well there were certainly enough crampon marks at the base of the chimney...... I guess I'll have to go up there again and see what lies to the right of it., Anyway, the actual grade is of less importance than the fact we got up the thing, I just didn't think a grade III was going to make me work so hard :(
thedatastream on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to csw: I led the chimney pitch yesterday and it felt quite tricky. Traversed right around the corner from the rusty peg and then up some stepped ledges onto the top of a block. Pretty tricky but there are hooks and torques that reveal themselves eventually.
ads.ukclimbing.com
csw on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to thedatastream: - That's definitely not the way I went. There were no stepped ledges, no block, and the only peg I found was a very badly placed one, quite a bit further up the route. Now I have to go back....
Only a hill - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to monkeyme2:
> (In reply to nickinscottishmountains) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152292254570526&l=bdfd382f1f
>
> No pictures looking up from it on UKC so here is one I took. The in situ peg mentioned earlier the next runner on the right of the pic I think.
>
> I have other pics that show this from above, but I didn't take them myself, my partner Ben did and I don't know if he would mind me posting them. They show pretty much the same as this pic though.
>
> They show the same as http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=188113

I can't see the first picture, but the second is definitely the correct route.
Doghouse - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:

Nope, I still think you didn't traverse far enough right :-) The pics show the the blocky/stepped chimney which is the correct line I think.

My partner was leading intially and came back because he couldn't get into the 'corner'. I took over the lead, traversed past the V corner (the one my mate couldn't get into and the one I think you went up), clipped the rusty peg traversed further right and then up the blocky chimney shown in the pic.

I think datastream describes it perfectly .. . "Traversed right around the corner from the rusty peg and then up some stepped ledges onto the top of a block. Pretty tricky but there are hooks and torques that reveal themselves eventually." but I guess you're right. . you'll just have to go back and do it again :-)

csw on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to monkeyme2)
> [...]
>
> I can't see the first picture, but the second is definitely the correct route.

Well that settles it - neither of those pictures is of ground I crossed :(

andy hunter - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:
I have a dodgey memory of it from a late autumn climb with a pal about 10 years ago, but i remember two 'climby' bits on the whole ridge. The rest was scrambling I think.

Higher up there's the sort of nose, a bit exposed, that we did traverse out right to get to. I think we did pass a piton. We pitched that bit and it lead to a flatter section and a little bump and arete. There had been rockfall i think.

A fair bit lower down, while we were soloing, we came to an awkward v-corner-chimney bit that looked ok but proved increasingly awkward and 'wish i was on a ropey'. The rock was cold too. Was it 20 feet or a bit more? Cant remember. Not sure i've a photo but will look.

andy
andy hunter - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to csw:
i've no idea if this link will work but its a profile of the whole ridge, from my gallery.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=73596
danny269 - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to csw: just out of interest do you remember if the 'deep, undercut V' you refer to looked anything like the one in this link?

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=91895

As thedatastream said in his post (I'd lead the crux up the real flakey chimney just minutes before he and his mate arrived below us)I also went round to the right of the block which held the rusty piton (as I felt the direct route over the blocks to the left of the piton was very sketchy and involved some high stepping ~ I'm only a short arse!)

And whilst it was only my second III or higher lead (and third III route overall) I'd say it was the hardest I've done so far and probably knocking on the door of mid-range IVs at least!
csw on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to danny269: Looks familiar, but I think that section came before the V chimney that gave me the trouble. I could be wrong though....
Only a hill - on 24 Feb 2013
In reply to danny269:
> (In reply to csw) just out of interest do you remember if the 'deep, undercut V' you refer to looked anything like the one in this link?
>
> http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=91895

This is much lower down on the route, nowhere near the crux corner (I took the picture myself).
monkeyme2 - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill: Sorry.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v308/kingsbanana/castleridge2.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v308/kingsbanana/castleridge1.jpg

Hopefully these will work. They are both looking up from belay at bottom of crux pitch.

Russell Lovett - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to csw: looks like you are not the only one to get confused by this route. Eas staying at the Glen Nevis hostel a few weeks ago myself a nd at 9.30pm spotted 2 head torches coming down off The Ben, at 11.15 went outside for a ciggie and just coming over the footbridge were 2 lads who told me they had just done Castle Ridge gone off line and ended up having a epic to find there way to the top. Dont know if they climbed out in the dark but its a good guese they did. Looks like this route catchs out quite a few people.
glaramara - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill: That is definetly the route i took and i had the same of picture of my own foot on my desk-top for awhile. I even remember reading about your solo in your blog and thinking it pretty ballsy after the event. I thought it was just too technical to warrant a III, well protected though it is. III/IV 4 at a push. We only pitched 2 bits including that one and didn't put any gear in the first so finished quickly. Maybe with the shorter walk in, lower altitude and cruxy nature of route, it's overall grade reduces...?
Only a hill - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to glaramara:
It was my first III and I certainly found it interesting at the top pitch! I haven't climbed it since 2008, however; my brother James soloed it and wrote up an account for Glencoe Mountaineer (which he now runs). Certainly was a ballsy solo ... he's a much better climber than I am! =)

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