News Update

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06/03/2006

Last week Dave MacLeod and Tim Emmett climbed the last unclimbed gully on Ben Nevis. The gully is climbed in it's lower reaches by Italian Climb (III), but is capped by a massive cave and overhang and so had remained unclimbed. Dave and Tim onsighted the route, with Dave leading the crux final pitch through the overhang. The crux was a steep cracked wall with long reaches, followed by a serious groove line to the top. The route, as yet un-named goes at VIII, 9 making it the hardest on the Ben. The previous day Tim had made a ground up third ascent of Happy Tyroleans IX,10 on Cairngorm. The ascent was done after a late start and a tour of Arrochar looking for conditions before racing to Cairngorm and leaving the car at 1pm. Tim popped off a couple of times before cruising it shortly after.

The previous week world famous ice climber Will Gadd had been in the country to sample the trails and tribulations of Scottish winter climbing. After sneaking in one route in the northern corries while fighting off jet lag and racing to beat an oncoming thaw, the next three days were spent in Birnam Quarry while the rain fell. Will made the first ascent of Too Fast Too Furious D12 without heelspurs, making this a much harder proposition and bringing it into line with modern ethics for sport mixed climbing. Dave MacLeod did the same (by headtorch after dark). Will felt D11+ was a fair grade for this style, or 10+ with spurs (many of the world's tooling routes are being readjusted as this new discipline evolves rapidly). Will then climbed the old crack project to the left, again without spurs, at D12-. Again, Dave MacLeod followed shortly after. This new route, christened 'Good Training for Something' is now the hardest route of its type in the UK. Kevin Shields also made a very impressive redpoint of Fast and Furious, while enthusing at high volume about the quality of his new prosthetic ergo tool.

The week ended just as frustratingly for all, with a day on Ben Nevis after a huge dump of snow, too dangerous to approach hard routes high up, but unfrozen turf lower down. So Will, Tim Emmett and Dave MacLeod did a nice traverse of the Ben via Ledge Route. Such is the nature of our sport! Will left with a lot of respect for the commitment involved in trying to take Scottish winter climbing seriously, but also, as with many of us, a fair bit of frustration mixed in.

With the mountains burried in snow the past week Dave's attention drifted back to Dumbie. Here he completed 'Super Size Me' Font 8b, after a long battle over the summer where Mal Smith came away with the FA. This brings Dave's Font 8B tally to three with FA of Perfect Crime and Pressure, all in all not a bad year!

Dave Redpath

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