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    Uisdean Hawthorn on the third pitch of Immortal Memory (IX,9) during the second ascent. This demanding winter-only line on the Far East Wall of Beinn Eighe was first climbed by Guy Robertson and Jason Currie in January 2013. (Photo Murdoch Jamieson)

    Uisdean Hawthorn on the third pitch of Immortal Memory (IX,9) during the second ascent. This demanding winter-only line on the Far East Wall of Beinn Eighe was first climbed by Guy Robertson and Jason Currie in January 2013. (Photo Murdoch Jamieson)

    It’s been something of a landmark year on Beinn Eighe with repeats of many hard routes, and on March 3,  Murdoch Jamieson, Ian Parnell and Uisdean Hawthorn continued the trend with the second ascent of Immortal Memory (IX,9).

    “ We had a social walk in with Dave Macleod and Steve Perry so the walking was easy,” Murdoch explained. “Descending the gully and turning left, we all became very excited.  The Far East Wall was looking very wintry in terms of Far East Wall standards.  (With it being so steep, I guess it’s hard for it to get in such good condition).  All of a sudden there was too much choice!  I left the decision up to Ian and Uisdean. They settled for Immortal memory [whilst Dave and Steve went for Sundance].

    Ian nominated himself to start us off.  Uisdean sent me up the second pitch.  It’s pretty physical and pumpy.  Not much feet along with being very steep.  Things were nicely gazed in verglas so I was made to work harder for my protection – a relentless pitch.  Uisdean took on pitch 3, which again is superb.  It never gave up till he rocked over the top of the crag… no nice easier ground at the top to relax like the other routes I’ve been on.

    We went back a few days later, the crag was blacker than black!”

    Rob Patchett leading The Shround (VII,6) on the North Face of Carn Dearg on Ben Nevis. This may have been the first ascent of the season for this outstanding ice feature which is one of the steepest ice routes in Scotland. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Rob Patchett leading The Shroud (VI,6) on the North Face of Carn Dearg on Ben Nevis. This may have been the first ascent of the season. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Helen Rennard had an outstanding weekend climbing on Ben Nevis last weekend. On Saturday March 5 Helen climbed The Shroud (VI,6) on Carn Dearg Buttress with Rob Patchett and Dougie Russell, and on March 6 she partnered Dave MacLeod on a new route called Night Fury (IX,9), which lies just left of The Urchin in the East Face of Tower Ridge. Here is Helen’s account:

    “I was climbing with Rob and Dougie on the Ben on Saturday. It was my first time out with either of them and it was good fun. We were planning to climb The Shroud but changed this to ‘whatever is free’ when we found the North Face car park already full at 6am. Six of us piled into Dougie’s van for a lift up the track, the extra weight almost bringing it to a standstill on one snowy incline. Walking in we could see that The Shroud was free and there was only one party heading in that way, so we stuck to Plan A.

    I led the first easy pitch and then Rob had the crux. The right icicle was a metre or so from touching but the left one was fully formed. The ice up to here was sugary and Rob did a great job keeping calm a long way above a rubbish ice screw, until he reached the relative sanctuary of some in situ gear. Once onto the pillar the quality of the ice improved massively and it was brilliant fun to climb. I tend to avoid ice in favour of mixed so was happy to have a rope above me on this. We think this was the first ascent of The Shroud this season, though we may be wrong. On our way down we found two ice screws and one nut – not a bad haul! Adrian Crofton and Al Robertson, who were staying at mine for the weekend, had had a good day on Waterfall Gully Direct, and on Sunday they climbed The Promised Land on Beinn Dorain.

    The next day I was out with Dave MacLeod, again on the Ben. After a quick stop at the CIC for tea and a spot of autograph-signing (by Dave – the lady looked a little perplexed when I said that she could also have mine…) we set off up Observatory Gully to try another new line near Red Dragon (on the East Flank of Tower Ridge). This was a line a few metres left of and parallel to Urchin which Dave Garry and Simon Frost had looked at two years ago. Dave MacLeod and I had been to try it back in January but it was heavily verglassed and Dave downclimbed the bottom of the first pitch on verglassed crimps. He kindly offered me a go at leading it but I declined, thinking that if he wasn’t getting up it then there was no chance I was.

    On Sunday the route was again verglassed, though not as bad. After the initial difficulties on the first pitch Dave went out of sight. Though I couldn’t see him I could hear that things weren’t great – the gear he had got was poor, and he had then climbed a protectionless verglassed groove a long way above this. The hex he had eventually got in above this took a while to hammer out! Dave had brought his Go Pro rather than camera and when I realised he could record audio on this I regretted the amount of swearing I’d been doing trying to untangle my fankled lanyards on second… The obvious line for the top pitch was straight up overhanging IX,9 ground. There was an easier route to the top, traversing off to the left, but this seemed a bit of a cop out. Again Dave led. He wasn’t happy to commit to the crux moves until he had got some gear in. Once he’d hammered in a terrier he pulled through on thin hooks and no feet, locking off to reach up for more thin hooks. Desperate stuff. Seconding this I managed to knock the terrier out with my hand – it was useless!

    We abbed down back down to our bags, chatted with Dougie and Adam Russell who had backed off Brass Monkey because of the amount of verglas (which shows just how well Dave had done), called in at the hut for more tea (but no food for Dave, as someone had thrown away what he had left on the table!) and then a wander down as it started to snow.”

    Helen Rennard leading pitch 2 of The Godfather (VIII,8) on Beinn Bhan. This touchstone route was first climbed by Martin Moran and Paul Tattersall in March 2002 and has become one of the most sought after high standard mixed routes in the Northern Highlands. (Photo Dave Almond)

    Helen Rennard leading pitch 2 of The Godfather (VIII,8) on Beinn Bhan. This touchstone route was first climbed by Martin Moran and Paul Tattersall in March 2002 and has become one of the most sought after high standard mixed routes in the Northern Highlands. (Photo Dave Almond)

    In a similar vein to the two ascents of The Needle in a weekend in January, The Godfather (VIII,8) on Beinn Bhan in Applecross had three ascents in the space of five days last week. Helen Rennard takes up the story:

    “Dave Almond and I had plans to climb last weekend and had various ideas about what to do and where to go. We decided on the North-West in the end as Dave was up there already: he’d climbed Rampart Wall on Beinn Eighe with Simon Frost and Gully of the Gods with Blair Fyffe through the week. Dave was keen for The Godfather and we knew that Uisdean Hawthorn and Ben Silvestre had climbed it on Wednesday. I was a bit less keen, worried that it was a serious undertaking and maybe a bit out of my league. I was a bit put off by Martin Moran’s account of the first ascent, but in the end I thought what the hell, and we agreed on that.

    We pulled up at the parking spot at 4.20am on Saturday February 27 only to find two others about to start walking in. It turned out to be Tim Neill, who Dave and I both know, and Keith Ball, and they too were heading for The Godfather. Dave and I were happy for them to go ahead; they could do the route finding (though they actually had Uisdean and Ben’s tracks to follow) and we’d stay a pitch behind. It worked well, was sociable and made the whole day feel a bit less serious having them on the same route. Our friend Misha was also out on Great Overhanging Gully with his partner Mark. He’d driven up from Birmingham the night before, climbed on Sunday too, and then drove back!!

    Two hours later we were at the foot of the route, still in the dark. It felt very Alpine-like with the still clear conditions and the sunrise behind us was amazing. After a bit of discussion about where the route actually started, Tim and Keith set off, then an hour later me and Dave. The route was fantastic: really nice climbing, steep but positive, good gear overall, something interesting on every pitch, a definite crux and a top out onto the summit under the stars (I’m not fast on these climbs… ) Dave did a great job leading the crux pitch. A walk out under a sky full of stars and we were back at the car just after 10pm. A comparatively short day for me…

    Dave is extremely keen, gets by on a lot less sleep than me and was due back home on Monday, so it took a bit to persuade him to not climb the next day, especially with the fantastic forecast. We probably could have done something short but I was happy to have a pint at the Lochcarron Hotel, crash out in the car and wake up whenever. We had breakfast and cake at the new Bealach Café and sat about in the sun, which was very relaxing. A good weekend all round!”

    The South-East Cliff of Fuar Tholl with the line of The Ayatollah (VII,7) marked. The route was first climbed by Martin Moran in Ian Dring in February 1989 and was one of the most difficult routes in the Northern Highlands at the time. Ten days later, Moran added another landmark route to the mountain with Reach for the Sky (VII,6) on Mainreachan Butttress. (Photo/Topo Dave Kerr/Erick Baillot)

    The South-East Cliff of Fuar Tholl with the line of The Ayatollah (VII,7) marked. The route was first climbed by Martin Moran in Ian Dring in February 1989 and was one of the most difficult ascents in the Northern Highlands at the time. Ten days later, Moran added another landmark climb to the mountain with Reach for the Sky (VII,6) on Mainreachan Butttress. (Photo/Topo Dave Kerr/Erick Baillot)

    On February 28, and in less than perfect conditions, Rob Bryniarski, Dave Kerr and Erick Baillot made the long-awaited second ascent of The Ayotollah (VII,7) on the South-East Cliff of Fuar Tholl.

    “Last year on a fool’s errand to see if Snoopy was in (a couple of days after the first winter ascent of Private Eye), Andy Sharpe, Dave Kerr and I decided to have a look at the main cliff seeing as though we were up there,” Erick told me. “A bit of mountaineering descent saw us at the bottom of the cliff and at 10am we were surprised to find the lines of Pipped at the Post, Cold Hole and Tholl gate formed. Temperatures were not in our favour (+4degC) so we decided to quickly go up the easiest/safest option of Pipped at the Post (V,5). This put the crag on our radar – it is probably in condition most winters at some point!

    After careful monitoring of temperatures fluctuations Dave and I thought last weekend was it. On the approach, the crag looked in amazing nick. We had decided that Ayatollah should be attempted if possible. The Ice smear looked complete was all the way down the corner! It flattered to deceive and it was less than an inch of cruddy white ice that went down. Pitch one was quickly dispatched by Dave with spaced but very good rock gear (the ice would not take much). I went up the corner for one of the spiciest leads of my career… heart in mouth Type 2 fun! I probably had to climb much further up the roofed corner to be able to step left on minimalistic ice, about 10m. The ‘radical’ moves were very radical and my gear was not abundant and it’s nature did not inspire that much confidence, 1 terrier, 1 bulldog , and rubbish red BD cam and a red rockcentric (I was assured that the rockcentric was “bomber” afterwards). Once on the ice it was 20ish meter on cruddy easy Tech 5 (at most) ice but unprotected. I had one joke stubby screw in! The traverse under the icicle was done in a pure exhausted state and belay was a sanctuary with a monster thread!

    The fun was not over. Rob continued up an awkward rocky groove before crossing back left above the icicle and the main icefall. The ice only began to be good and take screws towards the end. Dave led an excellent 45m pitch starting with a steep 10m ice step (which I found desperate but he tells me it was standard Tech 5 ice). Rob finished up the easy looking but not so easy exit past the cornice. I have used my quota of ‘out-there’ moments for the year and will happily hung my tools due to a house move… secretly my head is now fried!

    By the way, grades? It easily felt the hardest thing technically I have done this year at hard Tech 7. I have no idea what a VIII,7 is but that is what I thought it would feel like! So full on old school VII,7 and probably my best lead to date!”

    Postscript 3 March: The great thing about writing this blog is folk get back to me pretty quick when I make a mistake. It looks like Rob, Dave and Erick did not make the second ascent of The Ayatollah as I first thought. Muir Morton wrote me a helpful email this evening to say: “I climbed The Ayatollah with Dave Hollinger in February 2000. We did Tholl Gate on the same day. I did the rad moves pitch and remember the exciting step out left and thin but perfect ice. The same weekend we did Test Department (conditions were great) and stuck an axe into the bottom of Foobarbundee [both on Liathach], which looked worth an attack from below but we chickened out as the ice was a bit peely.”

    Uisdean Hawthorn climbing the first crux pitch of Spectacula (VI,6) on the North Face of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh during the first ascent. The line to the right is Spirulina (V,5) and Icicle Factory (VI,6) is on the far right of the picture. (Photo Adam Russell)

    Uisdean Hawthorn climbing the first pitch of Spectacula (VI,6) on the North Face of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh during the first ascent. The line to the right is Spirulina (V,5) and Icicle Factory (VI,6) is on the far right of the picture. (Photo Adam Russell)

    Uisdean Hawthorn has had an excellent run of routes in recent days. On February 23 he climbed Tango in the Night (VI,7) on Sgorr Ruadh with Ben Silvestre, and the following day they climbed The Godfather (VIII,8) on Beinn Bhan. On February 26 he linked up with Guy Robertson and Adam Russell for a new route on Sgurr MhicCoinnich and another in Corrie Lagan. Uisdean and Adam then teamed up with Dougie Russell on Saturday February 27 and visited the Amphitheatre on the North Face of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh.

    “We were all keen to try Icicle Factory,” Uisdean explained. “Both Dad and Iain Small had mentioned it to me in the last few weeks. We were very surprised to see head torches already at the base of the route as we started the walk in at 6.30am. However, this wasn’t a problem and instead of following the early birds [James Sutton, Ben Wear and John Smith] up Icicle Factory [the second ascent], we just climbed a big obvious icefall on the left wall.

    It was quite steep for 30m where a ledge provides a rest but no belay. A few steep pulls on a hanging icicle allowed me to pull over the overlap and continue on some easier angled ice to a belay. Adam did a 70m pitch with some steep ice steps to join the buttress and easy ground above. The high quality of the route and the novelty of unexpectedly finding an unclimbed fat bit of ice was pretty cool. The name Spectacula (VI,6) was the original Roman name for an amphitheatre. We decided to abseil the route which allowed us to climb Icicle Factory straight after.

    In the guidebook Icicle Factory is given old school Grade V with no technical grade [the first ascent was made by Mick Fowler and Victor Saunders in March 1986], but personal experience has taught me this means it’s probably nails and at least Grade VII! I was surprised after three perfect pitches for it to have been very straightforward and probably V/VI,6 on the Day. Conditions really were exceptional with first time placements for the whole route. We topped out this time and traversed a section of the ridge watching the sunset before heading back down.

    On Sunday (February 28), old school friend Lea MacLeod and I made the first ascent of Spirulina (V,5). Lea is very fit from trail running but his only other climbing experience was seconding Vulcan Wall this summer.  I’d spotted this steep ice streak, which lies to the left of Icicle Factory, the day before. Conditions were still perfect and the climbing superb. It would be a three star classic even if it was situated on Ben Nevis. Not a bad first experience of winter climbing for Lea. After we got back down to the snow line, we were sorting gear and Lea produced two spirulina and banana smoothies he had made. I hadn’t heard of spirulina before, it’s an algae in powder form that you just add water too. Lea hadn’t considered that it would freeze and we had an entertaining time trying to get it out of the flask it was in.

    All in all it was a pretty good week. I could have easily spent another three days climbing new routes in the Amphitheatre alone if the weather had held, as there was ice all over the place.“

    Forrest Templeton on the crux pitch of Moon Ice Jazz (VI,7) in Glen Clova’s Winter Corrie. The route is adjacent to Sun Rock Blues and was first climbed by Henning Wackerhage and Robbie Miller in January 2010. (Photo Brian Duthie)

    Forrest Templeton on the crux pitch of Moon Ice Jazz (VI,7) in Glen Clova’s Winter Corrie. The route is adjacent to Sun Rock Blues and was first climbed by Henning Wackerhage, Adam Henly and Robbie Miller in January 2010. (Photo Brian Duthie)

    On February 21, Brian Duthie and Forrest Templeton visited Winter Corrie in Glen Clova and made the second ascent of Moon Ice Jazz (VI,7).

    “The forecast for Sunday suggested frozen terrain down to 400m,” Brian explained.  “So Forrest and I decided to go into Winter Corrie and see if Moon Ice Jazz was in condition. From the corrie floor it looked like it was in decent nick so we decided to give it a go – my first winter route of the season!

    I know that Henning has been keen for someone to repeat his line and confirm the grade. As he describes in his blog the crux pitch is steeper than it looks, gear hard won and difficult to place. On the day we thought it was worth VI, 6.”

    Ken Applegate starting the Direct Variation (IV,6) to Pinnacle Arête on Ben Nevis. The Direct Variation continues up the prominent offwidth crack up and left, whilst the original route climbs the chimney line on the right side of the photo. (Photo Steve Holmes)

    Ken Applegate starting the Direct Variation (IV,6) to Pinnacle Arête on Ben Nevis. The line continues up the prominent offwidth crack up and left, whilst the original route climbs the chimney line on the right side of the photo. (Photo Steve Holmes)

    On February 8, Steve Holmes, Ken Applegate and Dot Bankowska made the possible second ascent of the Direct Variation (IV,6) to Pinnacle Arete in Coire na Ciste. This variation was first climbed by Robin Clothier and Andy Huntington in October 2010.

    “Throughout the Autumn I had been searching around for alternative routes at amenable grades and came across a direct pitch to Pinnacle Arête on Ben Nevis,” Steve told me. “Both Ken and I were keen to explore this area for potential guiding routes, so with reports of iced cracks higher up and unfrozen turf lower down, mid height on the mountain seemed a good idea. The initial ‘normal’ pitch gave some good but unsecure climbing after which we broke out left to climb ledges and cracks towards a wide crack splitting a vertical wall. Ken set out on the second pitch before taking a belay at the bottom of the offwidth crack, leaving me with the entertaining but stiff proposition of leading us through and over the top. This crux section has superb hooks behind large chock stones but felt awkward and reachy for my short stature! Its a good more challenging alternative to the normal two star route, and on the day we felt it deserved V,6.”

    Iain Small making the third ascent of Tomahawk Crack (VIII,9) on Ben Nevis. Greg Boswell and Adam Russell made the he first ascent of this daunting line on Number Three Gully Buttress in November 2012. It was repeated by Andy Inglis and Will Sim in December 2014. (Photo Murdoch Jamieson)

    Iain Small making the third ascent of Tomahawk Crack (VIII,9) on Ben Nevis. Greg Boswell and Adam Russell made the first ascent of this daunting line on Number Three Gully Buttress in November 2012. It was repeated by Andy Inglis and Will Sim in December 2014. (Photo Murdoch Jamieson)

    Iain Small and Murdoch Jamieson made the third ascent of Tomahawk Crack (VIII,9) on Ben Nevis on February 3.

    “It had some pretty technical climbing which was hard work to protect as everything was a bit icy,” Iain told me. “I think the Secret only deserves VIII,8 when compared to this at VIII,9. There were quite a few teams about. Folk were on Archangel and Avenging Angel Direct. Canadians Jon Walsh and Michelle Kadatz climbed Knuckleduster, which had been our first choice, but clearly we need to get up earlier! We saw them back at the hut and Jon said was really enjoying being back on Scottish mixed even in the wild conditions that we were having. He said he had never actually had to climb routes with goggles on before!”

    German climber Michael Rinn on the first ascent of a new V,7 on The Stuic on Lochnagar. Unlike previous winter meets, challenging conditions meant new routes were thin on the ground during this year’s event. (Photo Simon Richardson)

    German climber Michael Rinn on the first ascent of a new V,7 on The Stuic on Lochnagar climbed during the 2016 BMC International Winter Meet. Unlike previous Meets, challenging conditions meant new routes were thin on the ground during this year’s event. (Photo Simon Richardson)

    The Weather Gods did not smile kindly on the BMC International Winter Meet that was held at Glenmore Lodge from January 24 to January 30. Over 35 guests from 30 different countries were teamed up with UK hosts and let loose on the Scottish hills. Unfortunately a major thaw preceded the event and the first two days were spent dry tooling at Newtyle or sea cliff climbing in the warm sunshine at Cummingston and Logie Head. The exception was Andy Nisbet who showed his great experience by leading a party up Fiacaill Couloir on ice that had survived the thaw. Despite the non-wintery start, there were smiles all around, and for several of the visitors, climbing by the sea was a new experience in itself.

    With lower temperatures, an overnight snowfall, and a temporary lull in the gale force winds, winter climbing final kicked off on Wednesday January 27, and teams headed off to the well-known ‘early season’ locations of the Northern Corries, Ben Nevis and Beinn Eighe. In Coire an t-Sneachda, Original Summer Route, Fingers Ridge and The Message were climbed and in Coire an Lochain, Savage Slit, Fallout Corner, Deep Throat, Western Route, Sidewinder and Ewen Buttress all saw ascents. Full marks went to Raphael Slawinski (Canada) and Erik Eisele (US) who both made ascents of The Vicar (VII,8) as their first-ever Scottish winter routes with Dave Garry and Tom Livingstone. The Beinn Eighe teams climbed East Buttress and West Buttress, and on Ben Nevis the best conditions were found on Tower Ridge and North-East Buttress. Unfortunately it had not been cold for long enough to bring the mixed routes into condition, except for Sioux Wall (VIII,8) which was well rimed and saw an ascent by Uisdean Hawthorn and Luka Strazar, and Ian Parnell and Ian Welsted (Canada). This was ten years after Parnell’s first winter ascent of this landmark route with Olly Metherell in December 2005.

    Thursday January 28 dawned wild and windy, but it was still cold with a thaw forecast in the afternoon. Attention focused on the Northern Corries, and in Coire an t-Sneachda, The Haston Line, Houdini, The Message, Hidden Chimney Direct, Patey’s Route, Stirling Bomber and Invernookie were climbed together with Central Crack Route, Deep Throat, Savage Slit, Fallout Corner, Hooker’s Corner in Coire an Lochain. The highlights were ascents of The Gathering (VIII,9) by Tom Livingstone and Ian Welsted (Canada) and Never Mind (IX,9) by Dave Almond and Luka Strazar (Slovenia). Elsewhere in the Cairngorms on Lochnagar, Michael Rinn (Germany) and I climbed a new V,7 on The Stuic that was sheltered from the worst of the westerly gales. Across on Ben Nevis, Raphael Slawinski (Canada) led The Secret (VIII,9) in very stormy conditions.

    Friday was a write-off with more gales and thawing conditions, but that evening snow began to fall and everyone prepared for one last push on Saturday January 30 to finish the Meet on the high. Unfortunately for most it was not to be, as the winds and unrelenting blizzards were too strong and all parties attempting to climb in the Northern Corries were beaten back. The only climbing in the Cairngorms took place in in Stac na h-Iolaire, a small crag within walking distance of Glenmore Lodge where a number of new additions up to Grade IV were found. Enterprising visits to Beinn Eighe and Creag Meagaidh came to nought with teams reporting black rock or avalanche conditions, but surprisingly the determined teams that ventured across to Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe to climb in the teeth of the westerly storm were rewarded with ascents of Spectre (V,6), Tilt (VI,7) and Chimney Route (VI,6).

    The Meet finished that night with a disco at Glenmore Lodge that lasted well into the early hours of Sunday morning. Despite the challenging weather and conditions (almost certainly the worst ever experienced on a BMC International Winter Meet), the week was a great success. Every evening, presentations were made showing the winter climbing potential in Scotland, Canada, USA, Greece, India and Portugal. Ideas were shared, friendships made, new partnerships formed and the overseas guests returned home with a new-found respect for the Scottish mountains, the Scottish weather and for all those who climb in them.

    Thanks once again to Glenmore Lodge for hosting us and Nick Colton and Becky McGovern from the BMC who set such an upbeat tone throughout the week and worked so hard behind the scenes to make the event run so smoothly. Tom Livingstone has also written a report on the BMC website.

     

    Ramon Marin on the second pitch of Neanderthal (VII,7) on Lost Valley Buttress. This modern classic was first climbed by Rab Anderson and Grahame Nicol in February 1987 and is one of the most sought-after winter routes in Glen Coe. (Photo Dave Almond)

    Ramon Marin on the second pitch of Neanderthal (VII,7) on Lost Valley Buttress. This modern classic was first climbed by Rab Anderson and Grahame Nicol in February 1987 and is one of the most sought-after winter routes in Glen Coe. (Photo Dave Almond)

    “I drove up from Liverpool and met up with Ramon Marin on January 12,” Dave Almond writes. “Ramon is a super strong M15 ice climber but had only tried his first ever Scottish winter route with Dougie Russell that weekend. For his second route I chose Neanderthal (VII,7) in Lost Valley, which was plastered as thick as it comes and offered an exciting challenge. I took the first pitch and Ramon romped up the second. The third was intimidating to look at but was very enjoyable. We topped out at 3.30pm and I thought we were going to be able to walk out in the daylight but on descending to the base of the cliff we became embroiled in a rescue of a young lady who had taken a nasty fall and was in a lot of pain so we eventually made it to the car park for about 9pm.

    I offered Ramon a rest day and used it to drive up to Beinn Eighe. We walked in and had a go at Boggle (VIII,8) but due to us walking in too slow and the first pitch taking too much time we abbed off to leave it for another day. The following day we eased down the grade and did Shang–High (VII,7) which was lots of fun. I had a great time introducing Ramon to the delights of Scottish climbing and he certainly enjoyed the locations, climbing and the views whilst I enjoyed his culinary expertise and great company!”

    Less than a week later (January 20), Ramon climbed Sundance (VIII,8) on Beinn Eighe with Adam Russell. All in all, an impressive debut into the world of Scottish winter climbing!