Kenny and Guy went to The Lost Valley Buttresses today to have a look at Neanderthal only to find it covered in 'snice' that useless white stuff your pick drags through and that falls off when you kick it. Plan B was what they described as the steepest IV on the planet- details on Guy's Blog later I'm sure.
Rich and I went to Bidean Nam Bian and the cold I picked up in spain had me hacking and coughing all day long. Such a stunning day was not to be denied however and I've wanted to do West Chimney (IV/V, 6- depending on your guidebook) for years and today was the day. A predawn start and a fast steep walk in by head torch took us up into the coire beneath Stob Coire Nam Beith where the path was covered in firm refrozen snow. As we got higher the effects of the more continuous cold temperatures told and the snow became less consolidated. Rich said he wanted breaking in gently (actually I don't think he wanted to scratch his shiney new Grivel tools or stretch his new BD Spinner leash) so I led the first pitch up a ramp covered in poor snow and then under and over the 3 chockstones. Rich then led up through the 15m tunnel (not one for the large- good job I've lost weight) to a comfy belay ledge for 11ses. I cut back right for some more excellent sustained diging for hooks in the continuation of the chimney. Round above the spectacular arch the crux Raeburns Chimney was also mine- excellent climbing, a real pleasure. As I brought Rich up Andy (who climbed un Poco Loco yesterday) appeared on the main ridge to Bidean and shouted a warning that the normal finish was iceless and awkward and sugested a more direct route. Rich led us up to finish in the last of the sun with stunning views all around. I coughed and spluttered my way down to the car- that descent always takes forever!