January Scottish Winter Diary

Graeme Gatherer pulling through the overhanging groove at the top of Chocks Away (V,7) on Creagan Cha-no. Over 40 new routes have been added to the cliff since publication of the SMC’s Mini Guide last winter and work on a revised edition is underway. (Photo Steve Elliott)

It’s been a tough January in the Scottish mountains with almost non-stop winds and long periods of thaw. Conditions on the mountains have changed day by day and have often been completely different from east to west. Here is a brief summary of new route activity together with a notable early repeat:

January 9: First winter ascents of Nethy Crack (V,6) and Brain Melt (V,7), Cnap Coire na Spreidhe.

January 10: First ascent of Double OO (IV,4), Ben Cruachan.

January 12: Simon Richardson and Sophie Grace Chappell visit Braeriach and make the first ascent of Rum Doodle Rib (III,4), the next feature left of Rumbling Ridge.

January 15: Nathan Adam and Iain Howie climb Could Be Worse (V,4) on the right flank of Black Buttress, Mullach nan Coirean. The relationship of this innovative ascent with Will Rowland’s routes from the winters of 2016 and 2017 is currently uncertain, but will be resolved for the 2020 SMC Journal.

January 18: First ascent of The Arc of Profanity (VI,8) on Creagan Cha-no.

January 18: Malcolm Bass and Nick Clement make an early repeat of Archangel (VII,7) on Creag Coire na Ciste on Ben Nevis. They meet a pair on the summit plateau who have just climbed Point Five Gully (V,5), apparently in good condition! These two climbs are amongst the finest ascents of the month.

January 19: Mark Robson and Simon Richardson make the first ascent of Skeleton Creek (IV,5), the grooves left of Sinister Dredge on Braeriach, together with Pong (III) and Half Rations (II), the icy gullies flanking Rum Doodle Rib.

January 28: Roger Webb and Simon Richardson visit Creagan Cha-no and make first ascents of Snape (IV,6) on Blood Buttress, and Cub Corner (IV,6) on Grooved Pinnacle Buttress.

January 28: First winter ascent of Table Rib (III,4) on Cul Mor.

January 29: Steve Elliott and Graeme Gatherer make the first ascent of Chocks Away (V,7), a direct line 5m right of Auld Reekie, on Creagan Cha-no.

Congratulations to everyone who succeeded on a Scottish winter climb, old or new, in January. If I have missed something from the above list, please let me know. Fingers crossed for a better February in the Scottish Highlands!

About Simon Richardson

Simon Richardson is a passionate Scottish winter climber
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