"You playing football tonight man?"
"Aye man, up for a good game"
Not a good idea, not when you're due out at 6am for your first winter ridge.
Also the team we played were near enough the Real Madrid of 5 a-side.
Half 5 my phone started making horrible noises, must be time to get up I thought... Do it quick, get dressed, cup of tea, and food. Don't prolong the horrible feeling of getting up early and going outside into the cold. The thoughts are always in the back of my mind, it'll be worth it!!!
The plan was Fiacalli Ridge in the Northern Corries. My first ridge (ever) Joe yawned "Morning" as he wandered into the kitchen. Cup of tea, slice of toast, bag packed and gone. Into the car and up the A9 by half 6, our car journeys consist of banging the world to rights (and attempting to sing) this mornings subject....A9 average speed cameras. I won't bore with details but if your travel via the A9 you'll get the idea of the conversation that took place.
The forecast was looking ok, no fresh snow fall, north westerly wind ranging about 40-50mph, and a good level of freezing. We had 2 out of 3, can you guess the odd 1 out? The wind.
I would have killed for 40mph, it was more like 70 - 80 at times. Also me being a plonker, i had no goggles, so a lovely frozen face was my companion for the day (i have since invested in some eye wear)
The Northen Corries is by far the most accessible place to climb in winter, being a short 45 minute walk ( if you're fit) going back to the night before when I was busy chasing the Scottish version of Ronaldo, my legs did not want to carry me up the path. We jumped onto the shoulder of the hillside for a gentle walk upto the start of the ridge. The wind tearing into us from the west, walking at an angle was good practice for the ridge.
Being honest, neither of us really knew what to expect. Pictures from UKC logbooks only give you so much info. The first section was basically a scramble with crampons and ice axes. Then we started the first steep step onto the edge of the ridge. Now i know the direct ridge is given grade 2, and the snow ramps to the right give grade 1. Our ascent was a zig zag line between the two. We feel we had a good sense of exposure across the main section of the ridge and some nice cover of some of the more easier snow slopes! One thing we were a bit thrown by is the overall length of the route, having climbed it end to end in under 30 minutes was surprising. But good experience none the less. I did treat myself and purchase a GoPro and have made a quick (15 minutes) edit. I'm working on the whole editing thing, so stay patience. There is a link below for the video.
Fiacaill Ridge: http://youtu.be/9YROTuwQTGo
Next stop, Aonach Eagach?
Summit of Fiacaill Ridge