Is This The Future?

Greg Boswell on the first ascent of The Hyperventilator (IX,10) in Coire an Lochain. This overhanging wall on the left wall of The Vent was attempted ground up and eventually succumbed after a fall near the top of the pitch. A clean ascent would have made it the most impressive lead of the season. (Photo Dave Almond)

On the Sunday evening (January 22) at the start of the BMC Winter Meet, I bumped into Greg Boswell in Glenmore Lodge and we had a quick chat about recent routes. We talked about Siberian Tiger and I wondered what the next step up might be.

“I think Will and I may have done that today!” Greg replied enthusiastically. It turned out that Greg and Will Sim had climbed the faint overhanging crack on the left wall of The Vent (to the right of the corner of Big Daddy). Unfortunately the route is still awaiting a clean ascent as on Greg’s last ground up attempt, he came off one move from the easy ground. He pulled back on and finished the pitch before Will led a second ropelength up the obvious large corner above and right of the terrace.

“The overhanging crack was completely mental,” Greg continued. “The protection was miles below me and there were no hooks. I was just kept in place, move after move, by the friction of the tips of my picks levered against the crack. Will couldn’t bear to watch. He just focused on the rope slowly easing through his plate, inch by inch. Pity about my fall at the top of the pitch, but I’m not going back to climb it clean. I’ll leave that to someone else!”

The Hyperventilator was graded IX,10, and although the ascent was flawed and awaits a clean ascent, it was a determined attempt to push the technical limit by climbing ground up. One cannot fail to admire the adventurous and ethical approach typical of many of this season’s hardest routes – others (in the past) have attempted to extend the Scottish winter envelope by pre-protecting or pre-practising routes.

About Simon Richardson

Simon Richardson is a passionate Scottish winter climber
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