Toughing It Out on Lochnagar

Ross Hewitt on the second pitch of Tough Guy (VII,7) on the Tough-Brown Face, Lochnagar. The route was first climbed in winter by the legendary team of Andy Nisbet and Colin MacLean in December 1984. It has seen few repeats and a number of strong teams have been defeated by long reaches between turf and the deceptively rounded nature of Lochnagar cracks. (Photo Sandy Simpson)

On Wednesday December 15, Ross Hewitt and Sandy Simpson made a rare repeat of Tough Guy on Lochangar. The pair attempted this sought-after mixed line on the Tough-Brown face the previous Sunday, but after a late start they ran out of time.

“Ross was halfway into the crux but there was a bold and committing section coming up so he downclimbed and we abbed off as it was completely dark,” Sandy explained. “We went in on Wednesday for first light and we got up the first two pitches quickly with Ross doing the leading to keep up the speed. It was heavily verglassed, the crux moves are pretty thin with very little for the feet and long stretches on little pieces of turf. Overall it’s a stunning route and a magnificent cliff to climb on!”

For lovers of climbing trivia, Tough Guy took its name from Guy Muhlemann who made the first summer ascent with Rob Archbold in May 1980. The SMC do not allow eponymous route names a rule, but this one somehow slipped past the eagle eyes of the New Routes Editor!

About Simon Richardson

Simon Richardson is a passionate Scottish winter climber
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3 Responses to Toughing It Out on Lochnagar

  1. Guy Rob says:

    Simon – Tough Guy has had quite a number of ascents! Certainly many more than the other routes on the TB Face. I seem to remember the general consensus being that it is somewhat over-rated. That would certainly be my take, and I’ve done (or been on) a few of the other lines on the TB Face

    • Simon Richardson says:

      Thanks Guy and good point – I’m not sure how many ascents Tough Guy has had – I doubt more than a dozen? So this makes it the most popular winter route on the Tough-Brown Face for sure, but still not many ascents in 26 years. Any ascent of the TB Face is still a relatively rare event imho!

  2. James Edwards says:

    I climbed this a few years ago and didn’t think it that great to be honest. I thought the crux pitch was very different to the other pitches. It may have suffered from a loss of turf at the crux; it will be easier with a bit of helpful ice. I think that it does get a lot of attention as it is one of the more accessible routes on the TB face

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