Away from the cutting edge it has been a relatively quiet season on the new routes front, but several good mid-grade routes have been climbed.
Back in early December in Glen Coe, Jack Morris and Neil Kerr found Last Resort (VI,6) on Church Door Buttress. This route climbs the left side of the small needle that rise from the centre of Central Gully. (The Lonely Angel lies on the right side of the needle). Later in the month Joe Barlow, Rosie Rothwell and Bruno Cullinan visited the West Face of Druim Shionnach in Glen Shiel. They added the excellent looking Aubergine Pickle (V,6) that takes the exposed right side of Boxer’s Buttress.
Nathan Adam added two good new routes to Skye in January. Together with Dominic Mackenzie and Ben Smith-Price he climbed Slaying the Badger (V,6) on Am Basteir. This striking, left-facing chimney corner high on the left side of the North Face starts from the traverse line of The Deadline. Fortunately, it was much easier than it looked and was very accommodating for placements and runners. Four days later, Adam visited the West Face of Sgùrr a’ Mhadaidh with Ali Rose, where they climbed Sunshine Rib (V,7), the grooved rib right of a deep chimney to the right of Thuilm Ridge.
In Ardgour, Rory Brown and Kev Hall made an ascent of Bealach Buttress Ordinary Route on Garbh Bheinn incorporating a Direct Variation (IV,4) in the centre of the route.
In late January, Ewan McKay and Martyn Hutchison found some good new climbing on a small crag on the northern spur of Beinn Udlaidh where a series of 30m-high ice falls form. Shower Curtain (III,4), Hollowed Ground (III,5) and Bong on the Gong (IV,5) were climbed in their first visit and two days later they added The Flume (IV,4).
But perhaps the most exciting new route discovery came from Peter Biggar who is writing a biography of Harold Raeburn. “In the course of researching Raeburn’s climbing career it transpires that he made a first winter ascent in Arran,” Peter told me. “So as far as I can gather it follows the summer line of B2C Rib on Cir Mhor and was climbed with Henry Lawson and Alexander Mackay on 23 Feb 1902. I can only guess at the grade but Raeburn thought it ‘a capital climb of decidedly more than average difficulty’ so Grade IV sounds likely.”
Raeburn, who was without doubt one of the greatest ever Scottish climbers, was notoriously modest at recording his climbs. One wonders how many other Raeburn routes are still waiting to be discovered!