Stuart McFarlane, Di Gilbert and Robin Clothier had a productive few days in the North-West last week.
On February 16, they walked into Beinn Dearg, hoping to escape Storm Dudley. The plan worked and they made the first ascent of the Dudley Direct Start (IV,6) to The Tower of Babel. This climbs the lower tier below original, giving an additional 50m climbing at same grade. The full force of Storm Dudley hit them at the top of the route however, and the walk out with over 30cm of fresh snow made for hard going.
On Friday 18 February, after poor weather the day before, they enjoyed the scenic walk up to Bucket Buttress on Quinag “After getting a feel for this excellent steep crag, Robin and I climbed Di Time (IV,6),” Stuart explained. “This starts to the left of Beer Time and joins its chimney, before moving back right up a steep wall. Due to Jenga blocks visible from below, Di wisely decided that two seconds on this pitch was unwise and stepped aside for this route.
Saturday February 19 dawned a spectacular, cold and clear morning. The prize of winter climbing on Stac Pollaidh, could not be missed! Robin had climbed December Grooves with Euan Fowler the month previously, and I fancied Positive Vegetation (IV,5). I led crux pitch onto the big ledge, belayed beneath upper wall. We traversed left for 45m to beneath two parallel corners. Three Day Grooves takes the bigger left-hand corner, but Robin climbed the steeper right-hand one that finished with a pull onto a massive blob of turf. We graded our new finish III,4.
Climbing on Stac Pollaidh is right up there with Beinn Nuis on Arran – mountain, snow and sea!”