by Rob Jarvis Knuckleduster VIII,9 The talented and youthful team of Blair Fyffe ( profile) and Steve Ashworth ( – profile) have made a winter ascent of the Ben Nevis HVS 5a, Knuckleduster. Situated on the left side of the steep number 3 Gully Buttress this intimidating line had repelled other strong parties – on one occassion, with serious consequences. Steve and Blair described the climbing as high quality, varied, sustained and HARD!….and gave a tentative grading of VIII,9. Steve commented the climbing on Knuckleduster was certainly harder than Unicorn and much harder than the neighbouring Cornucopia – which he did recently. The short second pitch, 5a in summer, provided the crux with a strenuous rising traverse across a steep wall followed by a hard pull onto the overhung belay. Winter Knuckleduster becomes another fine addition to the recent collection of hard mixed routes on the Ben – and is probably one of the trickiest… More photos at