Darth Vader – Alternative Finishes

Neil Silver (belaying) and Simon Davidson climbing Darth Vader (VII,7) on Creag Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis. Finishes to Darth Vader and nearby climbs marked as follows: A – Darth Vader, B – Catriona, C – Alternative Finish to Darth Vader, D – Cornucopia, E – Avenging Angel. (Photo Simon Yearsley)

Simon Yearsley sent me the above photo the other day asking me to clarify the finish to Darth Vader, so I’ve labelled the exits of DV and its surrounding climbs as they were climbed on the first ascents.

I suspect that the finishes to Darth Vader and Cornucopia are often inter-changed. When Chris Cartwright and I climbed Cornucopia in April 1996 (the first route to gain the platform below these finishes) it was dark, so we fumbled around in the dark before climbing Finish D. The following March when we climbed Darth Vader, we finished up A, as it was the other obvious exit. Both finishes are a little harder than they look and weigh in at about Technical 6.

Simon noted that when he climbed Darth Vader with Malcolm Bass on March 17 2008 he took Finish C. “It was probably at the same sort of grade as the DV crux pitch,” Simon told me. “When we did it, it had a useful smear of ice down the top of the right wall which you could dynamically stick from just below the topmost part of the corner.”

Neil Silver and Simon Davidson, who climbed Darth Vader last Saturday, also took Finish C, but this time there was no useful smear of ice, and they thought it to be a tough pitch.

So, I’m intrigued how other folk have finished Darth Vader, and whether Finish C has been climbed many times before – please drop me an email or leave a comment.

About Simon Richardson

Simon Richardson is a passionate Scottish winter climber
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9 Responses to Darth Vader – Alternative Finishes

  1. SteveF says:

    Likewise, went up exit C after Darth Vader. Also felt the hardness was a shock! Overhanging offwidth with icicle coming down the top. Bit rippy.

  2. I finished up C back in November – seemed like the obvious continuation.

    Superb pitch with the crux being the last move. No ice and a lot of powder made for interesting times…


  3. Ian Parnell says:

    Ditto finish C when we did Cornocopia! It seemed like the biggest feature and the most direct. We found it very deeply hoared, no ice, and as hard as the crux corner of Cornocopia.

    • Simon Richardson says:

      Thanks for all the comments folks. Dave Hollinger sent me the following email this evening:

      Loving Scottishwinter.com – great idea, great images with lots to keep us updated on. Like the little piece on the top pitches of the Darth Vader wall. Suspect these pitches get climbed a lot on the dark! I climbed finish C (in the dark!) when Andy Turner and I did Cornucopia back in 2007 – it seemed the most obvious line from that same stance that Neil is on. Don’t remember any ice but do remember a tough goey move at the top. Still, at least it felt a lot easier than what went below.

  4. Rob Jarvis says:

    Enjoying the blog Simon although it’s giving me a bit of Scottish Winter FOMO! Still, there are a few routes getting done in this valley too. Martin Moran and I finished up A when we did DV as thought this was the natural continuation of the main chimney line. I was quite suprised on seconding Martin up quite what a squiggle it was and was certainly more awkward than it looked, although it looked quite awkward too! Keep up the good bloggin and all the best, Rob.

  5. Pete Davies says:

    Hi Simon

    When I did Dath Vader, I took the Cornucopia finish (D). When I did Cornucopia, I took the DV finish (A). The finish to Catriona, marked in the photo as B, is incorrect. The short corner we finished up on Catriona is not actually in this photo. It is out of shot to the left (on the right side of the wall taken by the The Secret).


  6. Pete Davies says:

    Realised that the top corner of Catriona is in the photo. It is on the left edge, its base is level with the belayer.

  7. Ian Parnell says:

    So Pete is B an unclimbed corner of the Ben? quick guys and gals go for it!

  8. Graham Briffett says:

    Hi Simon,
    Pete Mac and I took the C finish. As others have said, fairly nippy especially as we were expecting a path…

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