Soloing "Black Spout Buttress" (Diff**), Lochnagar
An adder took me by surprise in Glen Muick. Looking into its piercing eyes brought back fond memories of the hot and dry summers of my East Anglian teens, when climbing mountains was often in my thoughts but seldom a reality. I took the warmth and dry for granted back then, as I simply didn't really know anything else.
It's strange how things change, and I always find myself in slight disbelief when the Highlands are treated to a period of "real" summer. Proper rain hasn't come for weeks in the Cairngorms now, at least never more than briefly. A bit of a dream come true for someone who likes climbing on the high and cold cliffs of the mountains.
Black Spout Buttress is the obvious buttress crest to the right of central gully
I always assumed my first route on Lochnagar would be in winter. But the drought here has fully taken hold in the last few weeks and the corries are possibly the driest I've ever seen in Scotland - the kind of conditions that have prompted me to re-consider some summer routes I'd rejected as possible solos…
Old snow resisting the hot temperatures
The upper walls of the route
The classic route I was heading for, Black Spout Buttress, is one that I've always been dubious about climbing solo for the first time. Reports of vegetation and slimy rock always ring alarm bells. But the summer route is usually started opposite the fork in the Black Spout itself, avoiding the heather-bashing of the lowest part of the route by a traverse in from the gully.
A climber on Black Spout Pinnacle
Some large areas of snow remaining
Looking up from the central level arete
Looking down the "deceptively difficult short chimney".
Looking back at the central arete.
The top 30ft wall.
Topping out from a route in a corrie you've never climbed in before always feels great doesn't it? This one especially so - I can't wait to get back to Lochnagar