Going climbing with Donald King and Andy Nelson means I'm going to have sore arms at the end of the day! Donald spotted a new line to have a go at on Church Door Buttress, Bidean nam Bian recently and today was the day. It was very nice for climbing with light winds, cold and dry. The rocks were well rimed up and had quite a few bits of usable ice with clean rock underneath for placing protection.
Donald pulled out all the stops on the first pitch. The first half of the pitch was up thin cracks with reasonable footholds and a nice warm up to the second half of the pitch. This was much more of a battle and required a few hard pulls and lock-offs with nothing much for the feet to reach a ledge at the top of the flake of Flake Route. A fully committed lead from Donald up very difficult climbing, probably VIII,8/9 and sustained for the 35m first pitch.
There was then a short link pitch for me and another pitch of more reasonable climbing for Andy to reach the great arch. We finished with a memorable abseil down the outside of the arch all the way back to the start. More fresh snow fell today and conditions are still generally soft for ice climbing.