On February 8, Steve Holmes, Ken Applegate and Dot Bankowska made the possible second ascent of the Direct Variation (IV,6) to Pinnacle Arete in Coire na Ciste. This variation was first climbed by Robin Clothier and Andy Huntington in October 2010.
“Throughout the Autumn I had been searching around for alternative routes at amenable grades and came across a direct pitch to Pinnacle Arête on Ben Nevis,” Steve told me. “Both Ken and I were keen to explore this area for potential guiding routes, so with reports of iced cracks higher up and unfrozen turf lower down, mid height on the mountain seemed a good idea. The initial ‘normal’ pitch gave some good but unsecure climbing after which we broke out left to climb ledges and cracks towards a wide crack splitting a vertical wall. Ken set out on the second pitch before taking a belay at the bottom of the offwidth crack, leaving me with the entertaining but stiff proposition of leading us through and over the top. This crux section has superb hooks behind large chock stones but felt awkward and reachy for my short stature! Its a good more challenging alternative to the normal two star route, and on the day we felt it deserved V,6.”