Neil Adams, Nathan Adam and Garry Campbell made an excellent addition to Sgurr Ghiubhsachain’s Jacobite Buttress above Loch Shiel on Friday January 7. This newly developed cliff is described in Neil’s highly anticipated Winter Climbs West guidebook that will shortly be published by the SMC. In the meantime, Neil describes the history of climbing on Jacobite Buttress and his recent ascent:
“I went in to Sgurr Ghiubhsachain (south of Glenfinnan) twice last winter, with Kev Hall and Helen Rennard. Helen and I attempted to find the one existing route on the mountain, Bestial Devotion (III,4, first climbed by Steve Kennedy and Andy MacDonald, which had been described as overlooking Loch Shiel. However, our explorations of the Loch Shiel side of the hill resulted in an unremarkable Grade II/III gully which we called Chasing Wild Geese.
On the same day, we climbed the obvious fault on the NE-facing crag left of the top of the NNE Ridge (a classic summer scramble and winter Grade I), which we christened Jacobite Buttress in honour of the Glenfinnan memorial at the head of the loch. It turns out this was the line that Steve and Andy had climbed – it was just about recognisable in hindsight, and very entertaining! Kev and I had more luck, climbing a good line on the left side of the crag and a steep chimney branching left off Bestial Devotion (The Uprising and The Young Pretender, both good Grade IVs). Ali Rose also added a couple of lines to the right-hand side of the crag – White Rose (III,4) and Flora (II). However, the steep wall between the routes I did with Kev remained unclimbed and had been in my mind ever since.
I’d arranged to climb with Nathan on Friday, and fortunately he’s keen on speculative punts on esoteric crags! His mate Garry joined us, which lightened the load and boosted morale as we set off from Glenfinnan in the rain. Fortunately, the weather soon cleared and after a pleasant approach up the NNE ridge, the crag was white, and the turf was frozen. I had no excuses – the pressure was on to climb the route.
Nathan led a good introductory pitch up a turfy groove with a pokey start. From there, I stepped right and climbed a series of grooves which cut through the steep wall. These were surprisingly accommodating, with positive hooks and plentiful gear, though the climbing was steep and sustained with slopy footholds. Eventually the angle eased, and I reached a perfect block belay. Garry led a relatively straight-forward pitch up a turfy groove to the top.
We had a bit of debate about the grade, and eventually settled on V,7 – it’s too well-protected to be a VI, but a bit trickier than most V,6s. Whatever the grade, it’s a cracking route and deserves some repeats, as do the other routes on this crag. Sticking with the Jacobite theme, we called it Raising the Standard.
There are a few other lines still to be climbed, and a few other crags in the area which (as far as I know) have not been explored, at least in winter. It is also a beautiful, wild setting with a gorgeous outlook over the hills of Glenfinnan, northern Ardgour and Moidart. Considering that the approach starts 20min drive from Fort William, it’s amazing that this area hasn’t had more attention.”