Saturday 5 March 2011

Winter Climbing on Creag Meagaidh with Dave Barker MIC. Friday 5th March 2011

You might imagine that Iain of Kendal Mountaineering services would have had enough after six days on the trot of winter work and would have wanted a day of rest. Well - he did, but friend and fellow mountaineering instructor Dave Barker had a few days off and fancied going climbing.

Dave's a good bloke and a very experienced MIC and even though he was fairly tired - Iain wasn't going to pass up the chance to go and try some new routes on Creag Meagaidh. with Dave.

Another MIC had been raving on about Diadem (V'4) in Creag Meagaidh's inner coire - having taken clients up it earlier in the week. Neither of us had been before, so we met at Aberader and set off in at 07:00.

The weather was again warm; and the top of Meagaidh was shrouded in cloud. This first photo shows the Post Face in the background behind Dave; and most of the Post Routes were still in - apart from North Post.

So up we went; and around the corner to the right in the last photo - this is what we could see.
Diadem is the r/h of the two icy runnels seen on the upper part of the face in the l/h of this photo.
We started off by climbing the first pitch of Glass Slipper (III) which is the icy gully pretty much in the middle of the photo and then moved left to drop in to Diadem.
The gully below Diadem and the runnel to its left (the Wand V'5) is called The Sash and is an easy II.

In photo three, Dave approaches the foot of Glass Slipper and then he duly handed the lead of the first pitch to Iain - it was great! Steep ice, but grand for placing ice screws and getting those ice axes in too!
Again, it was thawing all around, but the ice in the gully was solid.

In photo four, Iain snaps Dave as he appears over the crux of the first pitch. Iain was belaying Dave from a stance consisting of two ice screws - fine as the ice was good. Dave came up, grabbed the gear off Iain and continued up the next pitch.
During this time Iain both felt and head a thump followed by a roar which echoed around the inner corrie. Moments later, an avalanche of loose snow blocks appeared around the foot of the buttress in this photo. It would appear that some of the massive cornice above Cinderella (a big GII gully to the right of our route) had collapsed. Whilst we were on Diadem shortly afterwards, there was yet another, but smaller cornice collapse - a typical winter hazard in thaw conditions.

Once up the first pitch of Glass Slipper, we moved across, down & then up and on to Diadem. Iain, again, got the first pitch which had a large cave with a waterfall running behind the ice - interesting!
Anyway he made it up ok and then set up a belay on the right and brought Dave up and here in photo five Dave approaches the belay where he once again grabbed what was left of the kit before heading off up the main pitch.

Shot six - a well equipped MIC ready for the off!
Dave lives in Derbyshire where he works for most of the year - apart from when he moves up to Scotland to work the winter season for local mountaineering businesses. He's a top chap and you are guaranteed to have a great day out with him.
To arrange a winter climbing experience with Dave - contact him via 07929 634979 or via his website at

Finally, Dave leads on up the crux of Diadem. He definitely got the best pitch which as always, was definitely slightly steeper than it looked.
Iain followed and thought it a fine pitch - good for grade four except it wasn't! Diadem is graded V'4 in the SMC Ben Nevis guide - did Dave know and just not tell Iain? Well, he's not sure but he just climbed his first grade five route which was funny as shortly beforehand he said to Dave "if you want to climb a five I'll follow you but I'm not leading it!" Ha!

After a couple of pitches of easy gully climbing above, we topped out and walked down to The Window, bum sliding down into the Inner Corrie before walking out in sunshine, with great views.

A fab day out, well worth the early start and hard graft despite already being tired. Iain was certainly knackered afterwards - but!

Thanks Dave!

The rest of the photo's from this day can be viewed here.

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