Dave and Rich head up into Great End
Saturday saw us heading up into the ever popular Great End in thaw conditions. Drizzle, turned to rain, turned to snow at about 600m, the snow pack was mushy all the way. The crag was plastered and all the gullies looked full and complete. Out plan was to have a look at Left Hand Corner, but it’s reliance on ice, buttress climbing and the warm snow pack put us off. A wise decision looking at the wet snow that was sloughing off the slabs.
Rich hadn’t done South East Gully so that decision was made, we soloed up to the first awkward step where fortunately the snow was just consolidated enough to trust the placements. The icicle was complete and gave good placements, but uninspiring screws (two stubbies were enough). Exiting the icicle gave some excitement as several tries were needed before finding a placement that you could commit to.
If the thaw continues you can hook the placements – there’s no need to ‘bray’ them as the ice feels a little fragile. There was plenty of snow avalanching off the slabs into the gully to keep the tension high and movement fast. This situation improved higher in the gully where the walls are steeper.
More rock steps and good gully climbing saw us at the top by just after midday – then tricky navigating in full whiteout saw us down for tea and hot cross buns at the hut. Descending was very slushy.
The current forecast is for another cooling down so if any of you are lucky enough to have some midweek time free the conditions will become very good again and should offer excellent neve and excellent ice. We didn’t see anyone following us up this great route – but heard plenty of teams in Central Gully. I feel SE Gully is better route, OK the ice pitch isn’t as long, but it’s steeper and definitely more committing, it also has some great shorter rock steps that require thrutching up so has more character. After the icicle pitch there is a good belay on the RH wall and after the rock step run out to find a belay on a small buttress on the right again.
Have a great week and climb safely,
Dave at the CGR team.