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    Scottish winter climbing news

    Browsing Posts published by Simon Richardson

    First acensionists Guy Robertson, Nick Bullock, Greg Boswell, Will Sim, Uisdean Hawthorn, Iain Small and Callum Johnson after climbing on Creag and Dubh Loch’s forbiddingly steep Broad Terrace Wall. (Photo Simon Richardson)

    First acensionists Guy Robertson, Nick Bullock, Greg Boswell, Will Sim, Uisdean Hawthorn, Iain Small and Callum Johnson after climbing on Creag and Dubh Loch’s forbiddingly steep Broad Terrace Wall. (Photo Simon Richardson)

    Creag an Dubh Loch’s Broad Terrace Wall is without question the steepest major cliff in the Cairngorms. It rises for 120m of sheer verticality and bewildering exposure above a steep 100m-high lower tier. Normally wet during the summer, ascents of its excellent mountain rock routes are highly prized but infrequent. In winter, it is even less travelled, and until the morning of January 11 there were only four winter routes on the wall – The Last Oasis (VI,6 Nisbet-Spinks, 1980), The Sting (VII,6 Dinwoodie-Hawthorn 1993), Sword of Damocles (VIII,9 Small-Hawthorn 2010) and Culloden (IX,9 Small-Stone-Lennox 2010). Only The Last Oasis (Hawthorn-Malcolm 1993) and Sword of Damocles (Hawthorn-Hawthorn 2014) have been repeated, meaning that the wall has only been climbed six times in winter in the last 30 years.

    All this changed on January 11 when the number of winter routes on the wall doubled from four to eight. Greg Boswell and Guy Robertson approached in the dark to be first in line for the plum route – an outrageous looking line based on the first pitch of the summer E1 Falkenhorst and continuing up an inverted staircase of hanging ice smears through the overhangs above. When Iain Small and I arrived, Guy was well established on the first pitch, so we climbed a likely new line up the thin icy wall to the left of The Sting. Will Sim and Nick Bullock arrived soon after (following an aborted look at the routes on Central Gully Wall) and elected to attempt a tenuous mixed line between these two routes.

    Iain and Will both made rapid progress which led to an astonishing sight of three of the best of the current crop of Scottish winter climbers (Robertson, Sim and Small) climbing parallel new lines within a few metres of each other. Further left, Uisdean Hawthorn and Callum Johnson climbed a series of ice smears (approximating to Mirage Variations), a strong Aberdeen team attempted Sword of Damocles, and Robin Clothier and Richard Bentley made the probable third winter ascent of The Last Oasis. And to cap it all, Doug Hawthorn, the man who launched this current phase of Dubh Loch activity with the first winter ascent of The Giant in December, was on hand to photograph the action.

    More details to follow, once names and grades of the routes have been confirmed.

    Stac an Fharaidh on Cairn Gorm. (Click on photo for larger image) with lines shown right to left. Blue – Lookout Gully (II), Red – Deja Vu (IV,3; original finish dotted), Green – Unnamed (III), Red - Apres Moi  (IV,4), Yellow – Hoity Toity. (Photo Topo Andy Nisbet)

    Stac an Fharaidh on Cairn Gorm with lines shown right to left. Blue – Lookout Gully (II), Red – Deja Vu (IV,3; original finish dotted), Green – Unnamed (III), Red – Apres Moi (IV,4), Yellow – Hoity Toity. (Photo Topo Andy Nisbet)

    “Susan Jensen was up for the weekend and we had climbed at Lurchers Crag on the Saturday,” Andy Nisbet writes. “Now we needed somewhere for a quick hit before the weather came in on the Sunday (January 5). OK, I admit I was all for a lie-in but Susan was keen, and thank goodness in retrospect. Sneachda and Cha-No were likely to be swamped in powder so Stac an Fharaidh was chosen.

    We walked in the dark and it was just light by the time we reached point 1141. Walking conditions on the plateau were amazing so we had to put on crampons immediately and reached the top of the crag very soon after, just in time for a caramel shortbread breakfast. I had never been to the crag in winter so we nipped up the line of the summer route Shielden on straightforward snow and ice (Grade II). I had heard that the area could bank out (and Allen Fyffe later confirmed it) but it suited us. Expecting the storm to arrive, we returned to the car park by 10.30am, despite going to the top of Cairn Gorm for the view (it was misty). And some parties who started later had epics.

    A couple of mild days followed, then it was supposed to be colder, so Sandy Allan and I thought we’d have breakfast at Stac an Fharaidh. But it turned out to be the warmest of the three days, so the snow was on the soft side at the crag although we still wore crampons on the plateau. Susan and I had seen lots of ice on the main crag, and it was definitely thinner, but the Grade III to IV lines were still in good nick. Deja Vu was looking too thin at the bottom but Sandy was optimistic as ever, so up I went expecting detached ice on slabs. It only took one blow to know it would be good! Thin though it was, the ice was chewy and the pitch was in great nick. Partly to be different and partly to get more ice, we finished off to the left above an iced corner we thought was Apres Moi. It was technically quite easy but with not much protection and an ice screw belay, perhaps worth IV,3.

    The routes here are quite short so we had time to go exploring. We walked under the base of the crag to its left end, an area I’d never seen before, and of course looking for anything unclimbed. An icy chimney looked challenging and a higher grade than the easier route hereabouts. After a while we worked out it was on the right edge of Broad Buttress. The back and knee chimney was packed with deep collapsing snow but fortunately had some cracks for protection. Above this the fault line continued and the turf gradually became more frozen but the route was about twice the length of those further right. We decided on IV,5.

    I had to go to Mr Murphy, the dentist, on Thursday so it was the best day of the week. But Friday (January 10) sounded good ahead of an approaching front, so it had to be another breakfast at Stac an Fharaidh. My partners had vanished and time would be short, so I went on my own for the last two lines. I was supposed to get up early but couldn’t sleep, so got up even earlier. It was very dark and misty at 1141m so I had to get my compass, map and glasses out. My eyesight isn’t that great for night nav these days but fortunately I came across our old prints and followed them to the crag. It was still dark, which wasn’t part of the plan; walking conditions weren’t supposed to be that good. Even after descending in torchlight to the foot of the route, the light was still gloomy, but since I haven’t had a head torch on a helmet for many years, and actually didn’t know if it would stay on, I decided to put it away. There was the thought that it wouldn’t be scary if you couldn’t see down.

    The line was the one Sandy and I had thought to be Apres Moi, but which Allen Fyffe had assured us it wasn’t. The start was the same but then it went straight up when Apres Moi went left. It’s such an obvious line at Grade III that maybe it’s been done before, or maybe everyone else just assumed. So I arrived at the top of the crag for breakfast. Next line was another obvious one, a big snowy groove right of Deja Vu. It steepened up to Grade II with some icy steps near the top (Lookout Gully). This time I was back to the car park at 10am, feeling a bit guilty that I hadn’t done something else.”

    Tim Chappell approaching South Craig near the head of Glen Prosen in the Southern Cairngorms with the line of Spanish Dinner (V,6) ahead. The Angus Glens have seen something of a winter climbing renaissance in recent seasons, and this rarely visited crag on the south flank of Mayar is home to a number of the additions. (Photo Henning Wackerhage)

    Tim Chappell approaching South Craig near the head of Glen Prosen in the Southern Cairngorms with the line of Spanish Dinner (V,6) ahead. The Angus Glens have seen something of a winter climbing renaissance in the last few seasons, and this rarely visited crag on the south flank of Mayar is home to a number of the recent additions. (Photo Henning Wackerhage)

    “Glen Prosen is not often frequented by technical climbers,” states the SMC Cairngorms guide, “but high in the glen is a steep cliff, which is known as South Craig.” On Saturday January 4, Henning Wackerhage and Tim Chappell made the long walk in to see whether any snow and ice had survived the previous Friday gales.

    “Lower Glen Prosen looked spring-like and we were getting used to the idea of just doing a long walk with a heavy pack,” Henning told me. “However, whilst the snow and ice had been diminished by the hair blower gale the day before, the more western aspects looked in good shape. We initially thought of doing Summit Gully, the III,5 gully climb that was first climbed by Brian Findlay and Greg Strange in 2001. However, we spotted a parallel line to the left with a steep finish, so we decided to try that.

    The route was steeper than expected and comprised short technical problems with snow ramps in-between. The crux is pitch three, which is a steep, right-facing but well protected corner with some good technical climbing followed by steep snow/neve to the plateau. Comparing our three-pitch climb with other routes in the Angus Glens we thought that it was a lower end V,6, with some good but short lived technical problems and with escapable snow ramps in-between.

    The route took us longer than expected and a problem arose which was that I had to make it home in time for a dinner with my Spanish lass and another Spanish guest. The walk out was therefore a mad rush down the glen to make it to the ‘Spanish Dinner’ that also gave the route its name!”

    Malcolm Bass on the first winter ascent of Turkish on Ben Nevis. “We thought it was about VII,7 on the day, uncommonly amenable for a Ben Nevis HVS, enjoyable in its variety and situations and definitely worth a star!” (Photo Simon Yearsley)

    Malcolm Bass on the first winter ascent of Turkish on Ben Nevis. “We thought it was about VII,7 on the day, uncommonly amenable for a Ben Nevis HVS, enjoyable in its variety and situations and definitely worth a star!” (Photo Simon Yearsley)

    Malcolm Bass, Helen Rennard and Simon Yearsley had an excellent day on Ben Nevis on Saturday January 4, when they made the first winter ascent of Turkish (VII,7) on Number Five Gully Buttress.

    “Since climbing Free Range with Jim Higgins back in 2011, Simon and I have been waiting for an opportunity to get back on Number Five Gully Buttress,” Malcolm explained. “We’re not really drawn to winter ascents of classic summer rock routes, but the HVS Turkish, described in the Ben guide as ‘a poor route’, was first climbed in 1967, and hasn’t experienced a noticeable surge of popularity since then. So it was deemed a legitimate target.

    This area of the buttress faces south-east, and needs cold damp south-easterlies, or at least southerlies, to come into winter condition. Through last week the seemingly endless gales swung south-easterly for a few days and hopes were raised. But would there be enough of a gap in the storms to allow for an attempt? On Saturday there was, but it was forecast to be warm the preceding night before dropping colder during the day, and the cliffs were well defended by wet, fresh, slabby snow on the approaches. So, with Helen Rennard, we decided on a late start to let things cool and settle down, and packed spare head torch batteries. The bowl underneath the buttress can be nasty, so we’d planned to get in by abseiling down to the foot it from high on Ledge Route. But luckily, Number Five had already avalanched, very impressively, so we were able to climb the debris and then skirt round just under the crag.

    The climbing on the route was very varied. Steep corners with exits on good ice. Consolidated snow allowing progress up compact slabs. And a delicate technical crux. We are fairly confident that we followed the summer line, but a 1967 summer route description defined by ‘loose blocks’ on pitch three isn’t the best guide to a snowy 2014 ascent. At the base of the big corner we weren’t sure where to ‘trend across the left wall’. On my first attempt I went too far up the corner and experienced a rapid downwards trend. Party conference was in favour of a more defined steer to the left, and that took us across delicate sloping slabs to the crux steps under a bulging wall, which yielded (eventually) to crimps, undercuts, and thin hooks to gain a steep corner full of stacked flakes, well bonded by ice. We think this was where the tension traverse was used to avoid loose blocks on the summer first ascent. The darkness took us on this pitch, but there was virtually no wind.

    After topping out on Ledge Route we dropped down this a way, then, mindful of the lurking snow bowl, abseiled down to the sacs, and cramponed back down the avalanche chute to the CIC. The empty hut, the quiet mountain, stillness, darkness and gently falling snow – The Ben had trusted us with sight of one of its less familiar moods.”

    Andy Inglis climbing the third pitch of The Brass Monkey on Ben Nevis during the second winter ascent. “Pitch three was the crux, but pitch four was just really awkward!” Neil commented afterwards. (Photo Neil Adams)

    Andy Inglis climbing the third pitch of The Brass Monkey (VII,8) on Ben Nevis during the second winter ascent. “Pitch three was the crux, but pitch four was just really awkward!” Neil commented afterwards. (Photo Neil Adams)

    Neil Adams and Andy Inglis pulled off an important second ascent on Ben Nevis January 1, when they repeated The Brass Monkey (VII,8) on the east side of Tower Ridge. This imposing corner which bounds the right side of Echo Wall is a rarely climbed summer HVS, and was first climbed in winter by Pete Davies and Tim Marsh in December 2008. The first ascent turned into something of an epic when Pete fell off seconding after dropping his headtorch. Tim heroically prussicked the last pitch in total darkness dragging both rucksacks behind him, and the descent of Tower Ridge under heavy powder with only one torch between them, understandably took some time. They eventually reached the car park at 12.30am after a 19-hour round trip.

    Neil and Andy, who have made an impressive start to their season with a string of powerful ascents, had a more mellow time. “It’s a good route and deserves more traffic, Neil told me. “It’s not too hard for the grade but probably graded right at VII,8. We ran the first two pitches together, which makes sense on 60m ropes as it’s easy climbing. [Interestingly, on the first winter ascent, Pete and Tim found these pitches quite tricky, with powder-covered rock and some committing moves on thin ice]. We had decent weather on the route but the winds really picked up during the day so the descent down Tower Ridge was in a full-on blizzard and fading light, which was probably the spiciest bit of the day!”

    Susan Jensen leading the steep groove up towards the ice column through the roof on the new Direct Start (V,5) to K9 on Lurcher’s Crag. This increasingly popular crag, situated in the Cairn Gorm side of the The Lairig Ghru, has been a good choice in the prevailing weather systems of strong westerly winds. ((Photo Andy Nisbet)

    Susan Jensen leading the steep groove up towards the ice column through the roof on the new Direct Start (V,5) to K9 on Lurcher’s Crag. This increasingly popular crag, situated in the Cairn Gorm side of the The Lairig Ghru, has been a good choice in the prevailing weather systems of strong westerly winds. ((Photo Andy Nisbet)

    “When it’s been raining cats and dogs, where else to go but Lurchers Crag,” Andy Nisbet suggests. “In fact the idea was born when Matt Griffin sent me a photo of the K9 area in order to ask if a line he and Adrian Dye had done by accident was in fact new. And it was, a line up the ribbed area left of the depression of K9 and now called Far from the Madding Crowd, was III,4.

    While happy to help him, I was more interested in various icefalls around where I thought K9 went, wrongly as it later turned out. Jonathan Preston and I went in on a horrible New Year’s Day, with the wind and spindrift howling down the Lairig Ghru. It was another day where both of us wanted to turn back at various points, but never simultaneously, and the weaker one always conceded. In fact the wind was east of south, and when we reached the base of an ice column left of the main K9 fault, it was relatively sheltered and both of us were happy to be there.

    I hadn’t climbed ice this season and my picks were blunt, so I was happy when Jonathan volunteered to lead. I found the vertical ice very strenuous but found the icy ramp above much more enjoyable, although the booming, obviously detached, crusty ice was clearly better when seconding. But I had recovered enough to lead a bigger but less steep icefall leading out left from the upper depression. The route was IV,5.

    A thaw delayed a return and Jonathan was working, but a forecast of freezing brought Susan Jensen into the fray on January 4; the icicle through the roof above K9 was the obvious temptation. Of course forecasts aren’t always right, and it did seem very warm when we left the car. The lightest of crusts on the snow tempted us on but even when we arrived below the route, the crust was still on the thin side. Susan was keen to lead the steep bit so I teetered up the mushy snow fortunately to a good belay below a steepening groove. This gave Susan a precarious lead with fortunately a more solid exit. Her suggestion that a fall would only have led to a slide down the snow, wouldn’t have given me much comfort if I’d been up there. But the ice improved a lot above the groove and good ice screw runners led up to a short column through the left end of the roof system. From there we finished straight up the main depression on lower angled ice with the occasional bulge to reach the now icy hillside above. V,5 seemed the right grade.

    I was about to write the route descriptions when Allen Fyffe (who did the first ascent of K9) got in touch about a rockfall in George, the classic Grade III in Coire Dubh Mor of Liathach. It now has an extra pitch and is a bit harder (see UKC), but I happened to mention about a direct on K9, which puzzled Allen. The original description mentioned a mixed traverse so I put two and two together and assumed it traversed back. But Allen soon confirmed that in fact it went left and climbed the icefall which Jonathan and I had finished up. So now I’ve two half routes to write up, and little idea what to say. Conditions were surprisingly good, not that it helps the route description, but the popular North and Central Gullies looked quite poor – too much water and not enough cold I assume.”

    Doug Hawthorn climbing the crux pitch of Sword of Damocles on Creag an Dubh Loch during the second ascent. The route was climbed in 11 hours car to car, a remarkably fast time for a cliff that is over eight kilometres from the road. (Photo Uisdean Hawthorn)

    Doug Hawthorn climbing the crux pitch of Sword of Damocles on Creag an Dubh Loch during the second ascent. The route was climbed in 11 hours car to car, a remarkably fast time for a cliff that is over eight kilometres from the road. (Photo Uisdean Hawthorn)

    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.

    Jim following the new IV,5 gully in Coirena Banachdaich n the Cuillin. The route was climbed with a minimal rack of two slings and a single nut as the pair were not expecting to find any worthwhile climbing conditions that day. (Photo Mike Lates)

    Jim Wylie following a new IV,5 gully in Coire na Banachdaich in the Cuillin. The route was climbed with a minimal rack of two slings and a single nut as the pair were not expecting to find any worthwhile climbing conditions that day. (Photo Mike Lates)

    It’s interesting how different days have yielded better conditions in different parts of the country throughout this prolonged series of storms. On Skye for example, New Year’s Day was the only one with easterly winds forecast, so Mike Lates and Jim Wylie decided to head for a section of the Ridge and hopefully get a view of the Inaccessible Pinnacle.

    “New Year’s day had the best forecast over the festive period, so my initial plan was just to take in as many views on the Ridge,” Mike explained.

    “Instead we ended up with a cracking new route in Coire na Banachdaich at about 650m level. An 80m-long ‘should be alright with a single axe’ gully with three massive chockstones suspended above, winked at me. Equipped with half a rope, a 240cm and 480cm sling and my lucky nut, we did it in three short pitches (it is hard to throw two axes far!). With two manufactured prussic placements to protect the final 10m of vertical powder, it gave a highly recommended IV,5 that remains unnamed for now.

    The crest of the Ridge turned out to be in A1 nick, so aspirant Traversers should keep an eye out for a good window!”

    Postscript 9 January 2014: It turns out that Tom Davy, Tam McTavish and Ric Hines climbed this line in January 2012 on the annual St Andrews University Mountaineering Club Burns meet. Given its close proximity to the path and relatively low base, they presumed the line had been climbed before, even though it wasn’t recorded in any guidebooks. Cuillin guidebook author Mike Lates says that he is not at all surprised that such a prominent line had been climbed before, and makes some useful observations on skyeguides.co.uk about the recording of new routes from a guidebook writer’s perspective.

    Susan Jensen on the first ascent of Willow Ridge (IV,4) in Coire Garbhlach. This rarely visited corrie is approached from Glen Feshie. (Photo Andy Nisbet)

    Susan Jensen on the first ascent of Willow Ridge (IV,4) in Coire Garbhlach. This rarely visited corrie on the south-western edge of the Cairngorms massif, lies near the head of Glen Feshie. (Photo Andy Nisbet)

    “The name Coire Garbhlach, meaning a rough place, is remarkably well suited,” Andy Nisbet writes. “There used to be a path of sorts but a big thunderstorm perhaps in the early 90s, washed it all away and just left a mixture of rubble and deep heather in the valley bottom. This might have been a bonus for keen local climbers, finding a place where almost no climbers go, yet offering new lines on distinct features (all done now!). The crags are mostly schist and thoroughly rotten in summer, hence the deeply eroded valley and vegetated cliffs (water from schist is much less acidic than from granite; both plants and therefore winter climbers like this).

    At the end of November, Jonathan Preston and I were looking for somewhere different from the Norries. Upper Coire Garbhlach is a bit lower but we were hoping it would be frozen, particularly as it was ahead of the recent big insulating dump of snow. I knew from an old picture that the best remaining line was the ridge left of a gully line called Deep Freeze. The gully was climbed by Steve Aisthorpe and John Lyall, as were a number of ice lines in the corrie, but due to a vague (but definitely exaggerated) report in the 1978 SMC Journal about six long ice routes having been climbed, John wrote it up but didn’t claim it. When Jonathan and I arrived, the turf was frozen but the intended ridge line was a bit too bare. The ridge to the right was snowier and much better defined than on my photo, so we Chilled Out and climbed it at Grade III. The nice thing about Coire Garbhlach is that the descent is much easier than the approach.

    A couple of days ago (December 29) was a rare good day in an awful spell of weather. Susan Jensen was up to climb, and walking conditions seemed grim, so we needed somewhere fairly accessible. Roping in Jonathan and going to the unclimbed ridge seemed to fit the conditions. Having been irritated once too often by the car park near Achlean being unreasonably far from the road end, we decided to cycle and take advantage of a new section of path. Whether it saved much time is doubtful but it was fun! The snow level was quite high so we made quick time to start but things slowed down as we approached the route, which looked good in its very snowy garb.

    Attempts to dig out a direct start only revealed unfrozen ground and a poised block higher up suggested we ought to sneak up the gully for a few metres before gaining the ridge. The ridge held a steep corner line, better frozen except for moves on to ledges piled with snow, which were worryingly delicate when the protection was well below. A nominal warthog could be pulled out by hand; is it worrying when it does push you on even when you know it’s psychological? At least a pinnacle belay was big enough to need tying on with the rope instead of a sling.

    That left Susan with a very fine sharp horizontal arête leading to easier ground; pity it wasn’t longer. When we reached the land rover track for the descent, the spindrift from the forthcoming storm was just starting. A mad rush for the Inchriach cafe, which shut at 4pm, failed by 3 days, as it had just closed for the winter. But overall, it was a fine day considering how few there have been. Willow Ridge was 120m IV,4.”

    Looking up the line of The Giant on Creag an Dubh Loch from Central Gully. Doug Hawthorn (in blue) is belaying son Uisdean (out of sight) as he approaches the great rockfall scar. The summer crux bulges can be seen in the lower art of the picture. (Photo Robin Clothier)

    Looking up the line of The Giant on Creag an Dubh Loch from Central Gully. Doug Hawthorn (in blue) is belaying son Uisdean as he approaches the great rockfall scar. The summer crux bulges can be seen in the lower part of the picture. (Photo Robin Clothier)

    The weather this December (from a winter climber’s point of view) has been the worst anyone can remember. The first half of the month started very warm and the last two weeks have seen the country battered by a series of deep Atlantic lows. Almost continuous gale force winds, heavy snowfalls and rapidly changing temperatures have made mountain travel very difficult, and climbing conditions almost impossible to predict. As a result Scottishwinter.com has been remarkably quiet, quite simply, because there has been little to report.

    All this changed last night when news broke that the father and son team of Doug and Uisdan Hawthorn had made the first winter ascent of The Giant on Creag an Dubh Loch on December 29. This 200m-high vertical corner on Central Gully Wall has been stared at by winter climbers as a futuristic winter possibility for decades, but it was clear that any successful ascent would rely on ice. The route, a difficult E3 in summer (some reckon E4 if the pre-placed protection peg is in a poor state), is so long and steep that it is difficult to imagine enough ice ever forming over the crux bulges on the second pitch. Remarkably however, the exceptionally poor weather over the last two weeks has produced the perfect ice factory for The Giant – a fluctuating freezing level centred around 750m fed by a huge bank of snow sitting at the top of the cliff.

    The SMC guidebook to the Cairngorms warns that ‘prediction of prime conditions [on Creag an Dubh Loch] has perplexed even the closest of observers. A spell of very cold weather freezes the springs at source and even a day’s thaw can strip the cliffs bare.’ One of the remarkable aspects of Doug and Uisdean’s ascent is that they predicted the conditions correctly, and were in the right place at the right time to make this landmark ascent.

    Details about the climb are a little brief at present, but the first winter ascent of The Giant is without doubt the finest route of the winter so far, and one of the most important winter ascents in Cairngorms climbing history.