Scottish Winter Report

Ian Parnell has kindly filled us in on what´s been going on in the Scottish mountains this winter. After a reasonable start this Scottish winter season is developing into a frustrating one for winter activists.  While there have been periods of favourable conditions gone are the days of long predictable freezes; instead the weather has been so chaotic that it?s been a case of being in the right place at the right time to grab any first ascents.  Early February saw a deep freeze spread over the North West and frantic activity by many of the top activists.  Near miss of the season goes to Pete Benson who together with Guy Robertson and Es Tressider almost made the second ascent of The Godfather VIII on Bein Bhan.  With daylight fading Pete slipped pulling over the top of the last hard pitch taking a monster whipper and bashing his ankle.  Leaving his tools in the finishing turf the trio were forced into a lengthy retreat, and for Pete a 6 hour crawl back to the car! Robertson returned to Bein Bhan shortly after with Ian Parnell managing a new 2 pitch direct start to Der Reisendwand which they rated VIII.  The following day Parnell was taken by local guru Martin Moran to one of his secret cliffs in Glen Shiel and pointed at an offwidth project.  The resulting new 2 pitch grade VIII was according to Parnell ?the hardest offwidth he?s climbed in winter or summer?. The biggest story however wasn?t about numbers but a couple of audacious trips into some of the remotest corners of the North West Highlands.  Ben Lair saw not one but two teams making the committing approach with Andy Nisbet and Dave McGimpsey making the first winter ascent of the long and stunning Marathon Ridge, and Iain Small and Simon Richardson climbing a new line on Molar Buttress.  James Edwards, Olly Metherell and Roger Webb endured a five-hour walk in, including two river crossings to reach Beinn Dearg Mor where they put up a new 400m V 6.  Earlier Edwards and Metherell had established Finlay?s Buttress a new V 7 at Beinn Dearg, and during the same period Gareth Hughes and Viv Scott put up a new grade VII on An Teallach. In the last days of the freeze Blair Fyffe and Stephen Ashworth snapped up the very sought after first winter ascent of Knuckleduster, the big groove left of Sioux Wall on Number 3 buttress on Ben Nevis.  There were three tough pitches with Blair leading the crux second pitch at VIII 9.  Unfortunately this was followed by a thaw which looks set to continue into the forthcoming week. If you´ve got any Scottish news to tell us about drop us an email.