Two in a Row for Neill and Ball

The left side of Creag Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis with the line of Archangel (VII,7) marked. Climbers can be seen in the corner of Cornucopia and the chimney-slot of Darth Vader. The direct line up the corner from mid-height on Archangel is Avenging Angel (VII,8 - but probably harder). The right side of the arete of Archangel is taken by Cold Play (VIII,8). (Photo Tim Neill)

On Saturday January 29 (the day after their repeat of Storm Trooper), Tim Neill and Keith Ball returned to Creag Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis.

“While on the belay [of Storm Trooper] we kept looking at the lines in the corner just right, so decided to return the next day,” Tim told me. “We don’t quite know what we climbed, i.e. whether old or new, but it was about VI,7. Nick Bullock showed me his pics of Avenging Angel, which climbs the big corner by its main line. Confusing, as the new Cicerone book shows it wrongly. Wondering if your Archangel is the same or to the right?”

Tim and Keith did in fact climb Archangel (VII,7), making the second ascent in the process. The correct line is shown in the topo above. When Chris Cartwright and I made the first ascent in February 2005 we did it in rather thin conditions, and I remember some scary pulls onto thinly coated powder-covered sloping ledges, which may explain the difference in grade. With their ascents of Storm Trooper and Archangel, Tim and Keith have pulled off two significant repeats on consecutive days.

“Both routes benefited from icy conditions for climbing, but not for pro,” Tim explained. “Archangel was a great outing, exposed, but never too hard. I’ve been on the Ben a lot with work recently. Darth Vader has had teams on it every day – it’s the route to do! Last Saturday was stunning with teams on everything – such a strong scene!”

About Simon Richardson

Simon Richardson is a passionate Scottish winter climber
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5 Responses to Two in a Row for Neill and Ball

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Simon

    I think VI 7 for Archangel may well be fair. I think VII represented the very thin conditions on that day and wouldn’t take much build up to ease the grade up. Can’t remember but did Nick’s route take the obvious direct start, or is that still to be done!

    Hope you are going to celebrate when you get to 100,000 hits. Well deserved.



    • Simon Richardson says:

      Thanks Chris. Lets see how the Archangel grade settles down – to prevent confusion, I try and use published grades (Journal and SMC guidebooks) whenever I can. And yes, the direct start to Avenging Angel still awaits…

  2. Mike Pescod says:

    Looks like I got these two mixed up – I should have just come to you for advice on these routes. I spent ages trying to sort it out too!

    Thanks for the excellent blog – keep it up!


  3. nick bullock says:

    Hi Simon,

    Just a quick one to say you have Avenging Angel down as VI/7. Now, as funny as i find this and as totally unconcerned as i may be, i did actually grade the route as VII/8. (it could be easier though i’m sure 😉 ) Wouldnt want anyone out there to think i was a sandbagging bas***d now would we!

    all the best and great work on the blog,


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