So it begins...

I spent friday afternoon gazing out of the window as swathes of snow emptied onto the grass . Rory burst through the door; plastered in wet snow and grinning like an excited puppy. The central heating has broken again and winter seems ever so prominent in Froghall Terrace.

At 5.30 we squeezed into Steve's estate,  wedging ourselves among his bikes and by 9 were standing in Coire an't Sneachda, marvelling at the sparkling white buttresses and pink morning glow. Steve and Rory headed for the Mess of Pottage while Mike and I, considering the approach to Pygmy Ridge a little uncondolidated, made an ascent of the classic mixed line of The Goat Track in order to abseil from the plateau.

We racked up quickly in the cold wind, considering ourselves a well oiled machine but were soon reminded of the neccesasry winter faff as our ropes jammed on the first abseil.. An hour or so later, Mike was wedged into the starting groove, and following a couple thrutchy moves, was well set onto an enjoyable stepped slab. We disregarded leashed axes in favour of knees, fists and  gloves, which made the transition from a summer of trad a little easier. I lead the bouldery ridge to a flat, sheltered belay where i sat out from the strengthening wind and relieved my bladder over the precipice. 

Rory and Steve got stuck into Pot of Gold, apparently cruising the 'juggy hooks' and  finding jammed fists as useful as picks. We counted 10 teams in 'Sneachda alone, including a handful of friends, all climbing lines in apparently great early condition.  They were as delighted as we were, with a good start to what will hopefully be a long season! 

Pics by Michael Cross and Steve Walls.

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