Thursday, 7 January 2010

RAC Corner - 7/1/10

Been up tonight, as planned, and climbed RAC corner with Zack. There was a report earlier on UKC saying it was fat and taking screws and runners, and that report came today. I don't know if there's been some mass warming since them but it's certainly not fat. It's definitely climbable, yes, but the ice is too thin and brittle in most places to take runners. It will take the odd short screw here and there but not much. Ice is also quite wet with a lot of water running behind the whole way up.

The first section is great fun, there's a nice short vertical ice pillar formed on the right hand side which we climbed and reckon would go at somewhere around IV, if a little short. Definitely the best part of the whole climb. Great fun though. The ice on it is very delicate though and even with hooking, there was a surface layer peeling away, so be gentle! It isn't really good enough ice to take screws, it's also a very uneven surface. Could perhaps hammer a bulldog in but it would probably do more damage than good. It was basically a solo with one insignificant screw for a mental aid about a metre off the floor. For those fancying something a little easier, it's easy to bypass this pillar on the left on a more ledgy and gentle line.

The top section has been reduced to a short boulder problem by snow drift.

Second large step is good fun too, ice is quite slabby and more plastic on this one but there's still a fair bit of water running behind, and a dinner plating surface layer.

A lot of the climb is snow covered, and at the top of the two main steps described here, there's little by way of belays. The pillar step has some ice thick enough for a 13cm screw, and a relatively fat but very wet pillar to sling. The second step has nothing aside from frozen turf to hammer your axes in to. There may be some rock belays around, but I didn't fancy digging through the foot or so of powder on top to find them.

Approach and descent wise, the path is nicely beaten down now, although if you stray off this there's a good foot or so of powder, more in places, and some buried rocks to watch out for. Tonight we also observed (albeit quite small scale at the moment) the presence of hoar frost crystals on the surface, on top of a crust forming about an inch thick at the moment. So although the beacons aren't a notorious avalanche spot, if we get another dump, take care out there and don't be complacent.

Along the top if you traverse the ridge, there are some inconspicuous patches of scoured snow and semi formed neve which need to be watched out for if not wearing crampons.

The small solo gully line to the right has been blocked by tree fall and is also completely buried in snow, with the sound of running water beneath so no good.

To summarize, brittle and wet with a lot of water running behind but well bound to the rock, but climbable. Mostly a solo. Be delicate, make use of hooks, and leave some ice for everyone else.

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