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Peter Walker
2011-10-15 11:38:00
Just how hard is the Big Gun ridge?
Reading Conor's post...it's the age-old consideration of how comfortable you are when your hands have to come out of your pockets. I've been along that ridge twice: the first time alone on a dewy September morning (so the rock was a little damp in patches), and I think I probably did it much as he did, skirting slightly right on one occasion towards the top but otherwise sticking to the crest (even if a couple of times I skirted around a gendarme to have a look at the other side of it before tracking back and doing it properly). Unless you're congenitally clumsy all that's really required is the ability to believe yourself when you internally say 'I'd never fall off any of this if it were just above the ground so I won't slip now just because there's a drop.'

The second time was on a warm autumn afternoon with dbloke and mini, and (sorry Maria!) it was requested that scrambling be kept to a minimum. Even with that in mind you rarely have to venture much further than 'just below the crest' to make progress, apart from a bit of a diversion across the right face towards the top when the crest steepens: going that way the only real scrambling move (and it's easy and not really exposed) is pulling onto the summit itself.

So, given good conditions and a modicum of hill sense the ridge should be respected but certainly not feared: even if you're not comfortable on what's not-that-tricky scrambling you should still have no problems if your route finding is half-decent.

Howling Ridge solo? I'd have thought that the issue would be less the obvious increase in technical difficulty and exposure, more the potential unreliability of the rock (look at all the scree below that face...)
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