I had arranged to meet up with two friends; Mark and Joris, on Sunday for a climb. We had been planning something adventurous that would be a big classic Scottish day out but the weather and conditions weren't being all that helpful (seems to be a bit of a theme this winter!).
In the end we opted for a day in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms, which with the short walk in meant we could have a lazy start! It turned out we were not the only ones who had chosen Coire An t'Sneachda as our destination for the day - not a surprising fact as it is possibly the most popular winter climbing venue in the UK, certainly the busiest!
We have all climbed a lot of the routes in the Corrie, so choosing a route that none of us had done was a bit of a challenge in itself. We settled for a route on Mess of Pottage called 'Shark Fin Soup' - a route graded V,6 with zero stars which meant that it was unlikely to have another team on it!
I started up the first pitch, which is the crux of the route, and after establishing myself on top of the fin that gives the route its name found myself perched on a ledge with no useful hooks and blank slabs above me. I tried various combinations of body positions to try and reach a little higher and make some progress but couldn't find anything good for my axes...in the end I accepted defeat and came down to let Joris show me how it's done!
Not wanting to cheat by climbing to my high point on a top rope Joris pulled the ropes down and set off. I was relieved to see that he too stopped at the move I couldn't do...for a few minutes anyway, before making the move successfully. I thought that getting over this move would be the end of the difficulties but it turned out the next bulge was the crux! After a bit of contemplation and a few failed attempts to make the move Joris went for it and finished the pitch! I'm not sure if it was just down to conditions and a lack of useable ice on the slabs but the route felt very hard for the grade and V,7 would probably be more accurate.
A good day out with some good friends despite failing on my pitch!