Guy Robertson and Pete Benson have made the coveted second, and first free ascent of the Steeple on The Shelterstone, 280m, IX, 9.Alan Mullin and Steve Paget made the first ascent of this classic summer E2 in a 24 hour continuous push in 1999. At the time it was a contender for the hardest winter route in Scotland. They described it as a big all round challenge of skill, fitness, determination and logistics. Mullin and Paget opted to climb it in one push over 24 hours, mostly in darkness. Two aid points were used, but this was still an impressive ascent of a still controversial winter challenge. Robertson and Benson climbed the route all free in just over 11 hours, starting and finishing in daylight, with Benson leading the top corner in one monster 45m pitch (Mullin and Paget had split this pitch). Robertson commented, “I used to think the Shelter Stone routes in winter were a bit silly as winter objectives, not being natural winter lines, but having climbed two routes there in winter now I would highly recommend them to anybody. They´re huge and mega-sustained, for sure, but they´re super safe and very positive all the way, well-suited to modern techniques. The situation in winter is awesome, very dramatic. The only slight down side to the cliff is all the in-situ gear and rotting tat left by lazy summer ascentionists”. Robertson also made the first all-free single day ascent of the neighbouring route The Needle (VIII,8), again in a little over 11 hours, in 2003. Meanwhile, at the weekend Guy teamed up with Ian Parnell to establish two significant new routes. On Saturday they climbed a new five pitch route on Scarface Wall in Lochnagar, naming the VIII, 8 route Scarface Wall. The pair alternated leads in extremely wintery conditions. After a rest day on Sunday they headed up to Coire an Lochain to complete a route that Ian had tried a couple of weeks ago. On that occasion Ian?s partner had fallen from the crux pitch, stripped the gear, and landed on Ian. Ian then had a go, falling just below a rest ledge, before the pair retreated. This time he and Guy managed to get it done. Open Heart is a 4 pitch route (only one of which, the crux, is new) just left of Ventricle and weighs in at VIII, 9. Guy Robertson on Scarface Wall. Photo by Ian Parnell Ian is planning to head back up with Tim Emmett in a couple of days time to make the most of an unusually late winter season.
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