Saturday morning it was still dark when four of us limped out of the hostel and started the long walk in to the Corrie. Slowly as the sunlight started filtering through the clouds, the clouds thinned leaving us with stunning views of the North Face.
After picking out our planned gully (we now know this was Gully No 5) we started heading up onto the bottom of the snow-slopes. By this time, the first fingers of sunlight were beginning to streak over the col through the valley above us. Trudging up the scree we at last got to the snow and we could play with crampons.
We soon headed up over snow which had fallen in a past avalanche, but has re-frozen up onto hard frozen neve in the gulley itself. It was perfect weather and conditions. The gentle breezes floating down from the sun-lined cornice far above were pleasently cool. Soon we had all settled into the gentle plod of crampon stamping and swinging axes (Not that axe swinging was needed..it was just a fun novelty to some of us…).
There was also no need to head sideways up the gully just to get vertical…
Another 30 mins on a perfectly angled and clean slope, where the first axe-marks were from us, the cornice presented itself.
The climb was spectacular, but nothing matched the view from the summit. Snow blended seamlessly with the cotton-wool texture of the clouds below us. We could have been anywhere in the world with mountains…
Lunch was then consumed, and Linds kept herself amused.
Photos: Jos Style, Andy Bottrill, Lindsey Kennedy