Crack of Dawn Second Ascent

Andy MacKinnon following the first pitch of Crack Of Dawn (VII,8) on Sgurr Mhic Choinnichin the Cuillin during the second ascent. This summer HVS was first climbed in winter by James and Doug Sutton in January 2016. (Photo Callum Johnson)

Callum Johnson and Andy MacKinnon pulled off a major repeat on February 13 when they made the second ascent of Crack of Dawn (VII,8) on Sgurr Mhic Choinnich on Skye. Callum, who has had a very productive February with a quick trip to Chamonix and an ascent of Beyond The Good And The Evil, takes up the story:

“I had planned to climb with Andy on Wednesday and Thursday, but we hadn’t committed to a destination and were both willing to travel wherever the conditions and weather were best. It all lined up well that Skye was a good option as Andy has just moved there. Deciding to have a late start on the Wednesday as the wind was forecast to drop through the day. We had a great afternoon enjoying a solo of Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr Nan Gilliean, which was in superb condition, we continued along the ridge to Am Bastier enjoying the alpine feeling weather and conditions. Talking about plans for the next day- so many options – I took a full zoom photo of the North East Face of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich with my camera. Studying the photos that evening, we had to go and have a look.

We went with a few ideas but an open mind to climb what looked best. We started up Crack of Dawn, with the initial plan of climbing Dawn Grooves (they share the same first two pitches). I lead first, a good technical and well-protected pitch up the rising diagonal crack line. Andy lead the steep and positive pull out of the niche on the second pitch, pulling onto the ramp with ‘hero’ neve, fun climbing. The chimney line above looked too inviting not to be climbed; Dawn Grooves will have to wait for another time. The chimney pitch was well protected with a tricky pull near the top. The next few pitches had some short steep moves and helpful neve, a joy to climb.

We topped out onto the ridge as the evening sun was painting the clouds shades orange and pink. A great end to a superb day of good weather and climbing in a wild remote place.”

About Simon Richardson

Simon Richardson is a passionate Scottish winter climber
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