The inspirational first winter ascent of The Giant on Creag an Dubh Loch last week, prompted a number of repeat attempts over the weekend of January 4-5. A predicted cold and calmer spell of weather was awkwardly sandwiched between a thaw on Friday and a storm on Sunday afternoon, so Saturday promised to be the best day.
Two strong teams probed the first moves of The Giant early on Saturday morning, but the ice was still soft from the thaw the day before, so both pairs rapidly backed off. Ian Parnell and Ben Wilkinson then made the best of their day by climbing the classic Vertigo Wall (VII,6) in conditions described as ‘mush’.
Team Hawthorn (Doug and Uisdean) were also at the crag that day, but wisely decided to save their energy for Sunday morning when they made the second ascent of Sword of Damocles on Broad Terrace Wall. Doug had made the first winter ascent of the E2 chimney-line in excellent mixed conditions with Iain Small in February 2010. The crux pitch, which had defeated several strong teams in the past, put up a fierce fight and the route was graded VIII,9.
This time Sword of Damocles gave a completely different experience, and the route was climbed all on ice at a more amenable grade of VII,7.