I left out the Guy Steven and Steve Holmes’ ascent of Nocando Crack (VII,8) on January 29 in Coire an Lochain in the Northern Corries in my last post January Scottish Winter Diary because Nocando Crack is neither a new route or can be classified as ‘an early winter repeat’. Andy Nisbet and Jonathan Preston first climbed the route in December 1992. They used some aid on the third pitch so Andy returned with Brian Davison in February 1996 and made a free ascent.
Guy and Steve’s ascent has some immediate significance however, as it was probably the most technical winter route climbed in Scotland in January, and Guy and Steve took advantage of the lean Cairngorms conditions to ensure the cracks were not icy. This route has been on many winter climbers’ wishlists for years, but a good few (although not all) have been put off by verglas or a thin glaze of ice making it very difficult to protect. Together with it neighbour, The Vicar, it is considered high in the grade.
“Thanks to Guy Steven’s perseverance to go and check out conditions prior to our attempt we managed to climb Nocando Crack on the 29th Jan’” Steve told me. “Certainly not an early repeat but given the amount of very strong climbers awaiting to get it in good condition it was good to get on it. Escaping the ton of snow on the west, I was late arriving in the Gorms but we decided it was too good to miss the opportunity given the perfect climbing conditions. Guy pulled off a very steady lead up the crux pitch – great to watch. I got the tenuous groove, a contrasting pitch, but both were amazing!”