Nick Bullock and Rich Cross visited Ben Nevis on last Tuesday (8th February) intent on making an ascent of Centurion on Carn Dearg. Unfortunately the route was not white enough for a winter ascent so they continued along to Raeburn’s Buttress. Unsure of where they were, they picked a line to the right of The Crack that lead up to the terrace below The Great Corner (VIII,8), which was first climbed by Iain Small and myself last January.
“It was a great adventure,” Nick told me. “The first pitch was 60 metres of OK climbing belaying beneath the first steep corner and a obvious mini-Cenotaph… I tried the very overhanging corner a few times, wiggly climbing to get to it (tech 7), but it was so verglassed I could not get any purchase with knees on the smooth left wall and the perfect flake crack would not take gear as it was so chocka… I did get to the top of the corner but couldn’t commit to laybacking the verglassed flake with no gear… poor effort I know! So I down climbed and went around it on steep turf steps and belayed beneath the really funky steep chimney that Crossy led. Crossy’s pitch was 30m and tech 7 also… then we walked across a big snow ledge and belayed beneath a wild chimney and massive flake [the first main pitch of The Great Corner]. I climbed this and into The Great Corner belaying at the top of the corner, a full 60m pitch and super sustained and brilliant… this is one of the best climbs I’ve done yet this winter…”
I suggested to Nick that their new three-pitch start needed a name and Rich soon came back with an answer.
“We’ll call it The Great Flake Start, as the chimney section is formed by a massive flake – an amazing feature and can’t believe it hasn’t been climbed before! But then even more amazing The Great Corner wasn’t climbed till you guys did it last year! Some feature that, really impressive line and wild moves around the roof, and the jammed block was pretty interesting right where you didn’t need it… Good lead from Iain – must have felt solid digging out the placements on the steep bits!”