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    Neil Wilson on the first attempt of Hogwarts Express (IV,4) on Sgurr na Muice in Strathfarrar. “The groove looks so easy but it ain’t... we gave it a lowly grade of IV,4 as it was in relatively easy condition due to extreme cunning and the crux was only 20 to 25m long.

    Neil Wilson on the first attempt of Hogwarts Express (IV,4) on Sgurr na Muice in Strathfarrar. “The groove looks so easy but it ain’t… we gave it a lowly grade of IV,4 as it was in relatively easy condition due to extreme cunning and the crux was only 20 to 25m long.’ (Photo John Mackenzie)

    “Since everyone else seems to be reporting new routes I suppose I ought to as well,” John Mackenzie told me. “Even more so, since you told me off for not doing so at the SMC dinner! So the ‘nose’ of Sgurr na Muice in Strathfarrar seemed a good choice after prolonged South-East winds that would have stripped the looser snow. January 12 was wildish with pretty little puffy clouds hanging around the surrounding peaks but otherwise good visibility. Unfortunately, and rather obviously, the pretty little clouds that had been tinged pink at sunrise were wind-driven spindrift that we were fully exposed to – a proper January experience. The route we hoped to do went between Porker on the left and Piglet on the right and would follow a rising ramp that ended in a groove.

    We, that is, were Dave Broadhead, Neil Wilson and me. Though the lower ramp went just fine, the steep groove above that looks such a doddle in the photo, was indeed very steep and consisted of nothing so much as mush with an ice cream topping. Somewhat foreshortened from where I was, I was sure Neil would whip up it, but his whipping was mainly directed at him via the groove, and somewhat disconsolate he manage to backtrack and descend a side wall to the left which brought us, eventually, onto the delightful neve of Porker and the top. Sgurr na Muice – 1, Climbers – 0.

    However on the February 7 after some pretty awful weather up here and no end of snow, there was a good day forecast with light winds, so Andrew James and I staggered back up with overweight sacks to The Start, again. This time the helpful snow has been thinned to compacted soft slab that provided no purchase, but on the plus side the turf was frozen. The initial long pitch now was not so easy, and a hunt of ‘find the turf dod’ up the otherwise rocky ramp meant not so much front pointing as diddly little side steps, which took us to a very good belay.

    The groove above looked as if it had a solid coating of ice or neve, but once at its foot this carapace simply fell away in plates revealing a classic joke of a 70 degree V-shaped groove with not a shred of turf, but a one-inch wide parallel crack leading to a fine turfy top. By stealth and cunning gained by extreme age, the carapace was cleared but instead of falling onto Andrew below I caught some of it between my feet and pressed it into the groove. Chiding it to be good, and stepping gently I could just stand on it without it subsiding with me.

    The crack allowed one nut runner at that point, and somewhat forced into place and a little height was gained. Another repeat of the snow-stacking followed and this precarious ladder allowed another smaller nut runner to be placed, both of which are still there, such was the persuasion needed to seat them. Once a little step left was done (the first solid move), the capping turf was found to be well-frozen and allowed a dainty little ledge in the middle of nowhere to be reached. A short but steep wall on the right separated me from much easier ground but this had a wonderful, if hidden hook, and a couple of strenuous and very exposed moves led to more absolutely solid rock belays.

    Of course, Andrew followed far too easily as I was expecting the snow ladder to collapse but it didn’t. He then led another long pitch on rather worrying snow but at least there was one runner in 55m, much the same as on the initial pitch, and that was a magnificent spike. The top was reached as daylight was ebbing and the spindrift beginning, but we still managed to the car without torches.

    The reason for such a late start was the minor problem of discovering no crampons once at the head of the Glen. This meant going all the way back to Dingwall and then back up the long Glen, arriving at 11.20am, but it was a boon in disguise as the sun came out just as we arrived whereas the morning had been low cloud. Despite quite a few routes on the crag, Sgurr na Muice seems to have the almost uncanny ability to produce more, and unlike the neighbouring peaks, it is rarely drowned in snow.”

    1944 Route

    Pawel Wojdyga leading the crucial third pitch of 1944 Route (VII,7) on South Trident Buttress on Ben Nevis. This may have been the first complete ascent of the summer line. (Photo Ian Bryant)

    Pawel Wojdyga leading the crucial third pitch of 1944 Route (VII,7) on South Trident Buttress on Ben Nevis. This may have been the first complete ascent of the summer line. (Photo Ian Bryant)

    During the BMC Winter Meet on January 28, Ian Bryant and Pawel Wojdyga from Poland made a rare winter ascent of 1944 Route on South Trident Buttress on Ben Nevis. Given the importance of the summer route (Brian Kellett made the first ascent in July 1944 during his unprecedented soloing spree of eight new routes, and the route has now become an established summer classic), it is rather surprising that the route has not seen more winter attention.

    “On the second day of the Winter Meet we looked up at South Trident Buttress and wondered about a prominent groove high up on 1944 Route,” Ian told me. “Greg [Boswell] had a guidebook and could find no mention of it being climbed in winter, so we decided to give it a go. Pawel lead the groove which was thinly iced and bold – it felt like VII,7 on the day.”

    It turns out that the first two pitches of 1944 Route were first climbed in winter by Graeme Livingston and Mark Charlton in 1987 during the first ascent of Eastern Block (VI,7). They did not climb the final groove and finished to the left. This groove was subsequently climbed by Dave MacLeod and Mike Tweedley as a finish to Under Fire (VII,7), which takes the wall to the right. I’ve not heard of any other ascents of the climb, so although it is unlikely that Pawel and Ian travelled any new winter terrain, their climb may be the first winter ascent of the complete summer line.

    Please leave a comment if you know of any other ascents.

    Tim Chappell on the first ascent of Freebird (V,6) on South Craig at the head of Glen Prosen. This rarely-formed ice gully is one of the most aesthetic new routes climbed in the Angus Glens in recent seasons. (Photo Henning Wackerhage)

    Tim Chappell on the first ascent of Freebird (V,6) on South Craig at the head of Glen Prosen. This rarely-formed ice gully is one of the most aesthetic new routes climbed in the Angus Glens in recent seasons. (Photo Henning Wackerhage)

    I was delighted when I heard that Henning Wackerhage and Tim Chappell had succeeded on their long sought-after ice gully in Glen Prosen last weekend. It’s always immensely satisfying to get the conditions right on a route that needs ice to make it climbable. Henning takes up the story:

    “Several years ago during one of many walks up Mayar I noted a cliff in Glen Prosen. It was South Craig and it only had one recorded route on it, Summit Gully (III), first climbed by Brian Findlay and Greg Strange in 2001. Some time afterwards I walked in with Robbie Miller and Andrew Melvin in thaw conditions and we climbed the large ledge under the overhangs and finished up the last section of Summit Gully.

    More visits resulted in three more routes (a Grade III and a IV on the right-hand side of the crag and a Grade V just to the left of Summit Gully. However, our main objective, the icy corner was never in icy enough condition. On Saturday February 8, Tim Chappell and I walked in with a different plan, but this time the corner was very icy, and in addition, the South-Easterly gales had whitened the whole crag. Unfortunately we only carried two blunt ebay ice screws, which we could not screw into the ice, even whilst standing at the bottom, so we climbed the route with an ice hook as our only ice gear.

    The climb itself was a neve ramp to a blade of rock in an open-book corner. At the end of the blade there was a tree trunk-sized ice column and with some back-and-footing, I managed to stand on top of the blade. Above were icicles blocking better ice behind, so I removed the icicles to uncover some good placements. This short vertical section is similar to the steep ice section on Sticil Face and was followed by easy climbing to a cave. We avoided the cave on the right and then climbed to the plateau on good neve. We named the route Freebird and graded it V,6 – good climbing in an impressive scenery but unfortunately it was over all too soon!”

    The line of Best of a Bad Bunch (VI,7) on West Buttress on Beinn an Dothaidh. This possible new route is a direct version of Strombringer (III) and its Direct Start (V,6). (Topo Willis Morris)

    The line of Best of a Bad Bunch (VI,7) on the West Buttress on Beinn an Dothaidh. This possible new route appears to be a direct version of Stormbringer (III) and its Direct Start (V,6). (Topo Willis Morris)

    Willis Morris and Euan Ryan visited the North-East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh on January 21 with the intention of climbing the classic line of Ménage a Trois. On the approach they were deflected on to a possible new line near Stormbringer on West Buttress. They believe they climbed a harder variation start to Stormbringer Direct Start, by starting to the left, and joining it at the top of the first pitch for the overhung crux. On the second pitch, where Stormbringer continues up the ice gully, they continued up the right-hand side buttress up a groove with thin ice cover. For the third pitch they climbed five metres of the ice gully to the left, and instead of continuing up the gully-line, they went straight up and over a roof on the left wall of the gully (crux), before a fourth and final pitch up a mixed crack system led the top just left of where Stormbringer finishes.

    “We’re both instructors at the Glasgow Climbing Centre,” Willis explained. “We wanted a day out after several failed attempts the previous week due to bad weather. We originally planned to travel to Glen Coe to try Central Grooves, but when this failed we decided to head for Menage a Trois. But even this failed thanks to our route finding skills. If the route is new, we’d like to call it Best of a Bad Bunch’, which seems an appropriate name in the circumstances! We realise that the route is not sustained and neither does it lie far from an existing route, but when our pitches are linked together they produce some awesome mixed climbing. We decided to grade it VI,7.”

    It’s a long time since Chris Cartwright and I made the first ascent of the Direct Start of Stormbringer (November 1996), and even longer ago when Ken Crocket and Ian Fulton made the first ascent of Stormbinger itself (January 1977). I can’t remember exactly where we went, but it is likely that Willis and Euan climbed new ground. If anyone has climbed the Stormbringer recently, please feel free to comment.

    Andy Turner at the hanging belay below the final pitch of Bruised Violet on Beinn Eighe (yellow) with the top pitch of the new line Crème de Violette (IX,9) marked in red. “I spent over an hour climbing rightwards to come close to Nick's line but was put off by the gear and ended up down climbing and then having to head up in an exhausted state on the top pitch,” Parnell recounted afterwards. (Topo Ian Parnell)

    Andy Turner at the hanging belay below the final pitch of Bruised Violet on Beinn Eighe (yellow) with the top pitch of the new line Crème de Violette (IX,9) marked in red. “I spent over an hour climbing rightwards to come close to Nick’s line but was put off by the gear and ended up down climbing and then having to head up in an exhausted state on the top pitch,” Parnell recounted afterwards. (Topo Ian Parnell)

    With an excellent weather forecast for the North-West on Friday January 7, Nick Bullock and Tim Neill headed up to Beinn Eighe with the intention of repeating Bruised Violet (VIII,8) on West Central Wall. Bruised Violet was the brainchild of Ian Parnell, who made four attempts before he finally succeeded with Andy Turner in March 2009. The name is a reference to the injuries sustained from an avalanche in Fuselage Gully after one of the failed attempts, and later, Ian wrote a gripping article in Alpinist describing the story of the route.

    Nick and Tim’s ascent was demanding and engrossing, and after finishing the ascent Nick declared it one of the finest five winter routes he had ever climbed in Scotland. After chatting with Ian over the phone, it turned out that they hadn’t followed the original line but had taken a direct version of pitch two and then a parallel line to the right of the third pitch. The resulting new route – Crème de Violette – is solid IX,9 and another outstanding addition to the awe-inspiring West Central Wall. Crème de Violette covers similar ground to Bruised Violet, so it’s likely that Ian and Andy’s route may be a little undergraded too.

    “The actual climbing shared with Bruised Violet is actually very little,” Nick explained. “After pulling through the overhang into what Ian called the committing groove, I soon reached the in-situ Pecker where Ian went hard right. I continued up the groove placing a Bulldog into ice just beneath a roof that caps the groove. Moving right around the roof to reach a steep groove above was really absorbing, especially given the lack of protection! The steep groove moves were very technical, one-tooth placements in a shallow crack while my front points were placed on very small flat edges. After the groove, the gear improved but the climbing was still sustained following a wide crack that bulged. Eventually, I reached a belay after about 40m.

    The second new pitch climbed direct until beneath a bottomless corner which overhung dramatically. Pulling into this corner and climbing it to the top was the second crux of the climb. Once committed to the corner placing any more gear was impossible. At the top of the corner a few moves right using axe shaft torques in a horizontal crack led to a wide crack and a steep pull onto a snow ledge. A final overhang led to the top. I told Ian that I thought it was one of the best routes I had ever experienced in Scotland, and for me, it is certainly the route of the winter so far!”

    It was a busy day on Beinn Eighe on February 7, with ascents of Eastern Promise and Blood, Sweat and Frozen Tears, and Andy Inglis and Duncan Hodgson nipped in for another early repeat of the highly-prized West Central Gully.

    The great soaring groove of Last Orders (VII,8) cutting through the right side of Major Rib in Glas Tholl on An Teallach. This superlative line was takes one of the most compelling features in the Northern Highlands. The broad gully on the right is the Alley (II). (Photo Neil Adams)

    The great soaring groove of Last Orders (VII,8) cutting through the right side of Major Rib in Glas Tholl on An Teallach. This superlative line was takes one of the most compelling features in the Northern Highlands. The broad gully on the right is the Alley (II). (Photo Neil Adams)

    One of the real highlights of the recent BMC Winter Meet took place on the last day (February 1) when Neil Adams and Kenro Nakajima from Japan made the first ascent of Last Orders (VII,8) on An Teallach. This striking groove line slices through the right side of Major Rib, and is characterised by a remarkably steep and monolithic section that is cut by a roof at half-height. The pair approached the route by starting about 50m up The Alley at an icy corner where The Alley curves rightwards.

    “We walked in with the intention of doing Haystack,” Neil told me. “The weather was good and we spotted this obvious line that wasn’t in the guidebook. Kenro was up for an adventure, so we went for it. He put in a great lead on the crux pitch (pitch 3) to make the hard, strenuous moves up to and past the roof in fading light. He did take a short rest on gear – the first free ascent is still there for the taking – but that was at least partly due to cumulative fatigue from climbing six days in a row!”

    Iain Small on the first ascent of the Year f the Horse (IX,9). This is the second Grade IX that Small has added to cliffs of Stob Coire nan Lochan in as many weeks. (Photo Richard Bentley)

    Iain Small climbing the wall above the double roofs on the first ascent of the Year of the Horse (IX,9). This is the second Grade IX that Iain has added to cliffs of Stob Coire nan Lochan in as many weeks. (Photo Richard Bentley)

    On Thursday January 30, Iain Small and Blair Fyffe made a major addition to Glen Coe. “After climbing Sundance on Beinn Eighe with Murdo [Jamieson], I headed down to The Fort that evening to get out with Blair on Thursday,” Iain told me. “We hedged our bets and headed up for Stob Coire nan Lochan and a broken trail. The amount of snow is prodigious, and as we passed Central Grooves you could reach up and touch the peg (it must be 15ft up the groove normally)!

    I had in mind a soaring V-groove capped with a double overhang and headwall that takes the imposing wall to the left of East Face Route. It gave a real winter-only treat of turf, dirty cracks and suspect blocks. A steep wall and grooves on the second pitch led to a large girdling ledge. We finished up the cracked wall to the right of East Face Direct Direct with my arms cramping up and blinding spindrift racing up the crag.

    We called it Year of The Horse (the new Chinese Year ) and it might be IX 9. It provided a nice foil to Scansor for the style of climbing. The route was a full on winter tussle entailing plenty of physicality and even knee bars through the double roof, so different to the delicate technical walls of Scansor. Even after the roofs I was unsure of whether the wall above would go, with cramping arms and choked cracks, but a ledge was in sight and even some neve to haul onto!”

    Greg Boswell on the first ascent of Making the Cut (VIII,8) on Beinn Eighe. The route climbs through the stepped roofs before taking the soaring crack line to the left of West Central Gully. (Photo Nick Bullock)

    Greg Boswell on the first ascent of Making the Cut (VIII,8) on Beinn Eighe. This stupendous route climbs through stepped roofs before taking the soaring crack line to the left of West Central Gully. (Photo Nick Bullock)

    The gales that raged throughout the BMC Winter Meet prompted many team to visit the North-West Highlands to seek some shelter from the South-East winds. This proved to be an unexpected bonus, as the Torridon Mountains were in excellent winter condition.

    Beinn Eighe, with its high north-facing cliffs was the initial venue of choice, and the classic lines of Fuselage Gully, East Buttress, West Buttress and Central Buttress soon saw ascents. On Wednesday January 29, Will Sim and Michelle Kadatz from Canada made the fourth ascent of the fabled West Central Gully (VII,8), arguably the most difficult gully climb in Scotland. Will came back raving about the climb, mightily impressed that Mick Fowler and Mike Morrison climbed this steep route way back in 1986. Also on Wednesday, Neil Adams and Nejc Marcic (Slovenia) made a possible second ascent of second ascent of  Sting (VII,7) , Andy Inglis and Martin Zumer (Slovenia) made the third ascent of Hydroconicum (VIII,8), and Dave Almond and Michal Sabovcik (Slovakia) climbed the now classic Blood, Sweat and Frozen Tears (VIII,8).

    The following day (January 30), the pace stepped up another notch when Nick Bullock, Jon Walsh (Canada) and Greg Boswell made the first ascent of Making the Cut (VIII,8), a major new line taking the soaring crack-line left of West Central Gully. Will Sim and Olov Isaksson (Sweden) also added Crazy Eyes (VII,9), another very strong line taking the left-facing corner, roof crack and offwidth corner above Hydroponicum. (The name is a tribute to Magnus Kastengren who represented Sweden at the last BMC Winter Meet and died recently after an accident when skiing on Mount Cook). Will and Olov climbed their new route so fast that they had time to nip up the classic West Buttress later that day. Andy Inglis made a return visit with Piotr Sulowski (Poland) and climbed the brilliant Sundance (VIII,8), and Simon Frost and partner made an early repeat of West Buttress Directissima (VII,8).

    The last day of the week (Saturday, February 1) saw something of a North-West showdown. Beinn Eighe continued to stay popular with more ascents of Central Buttress, Shang High, Kami-kaze and another ascent of Sundance by Dave Almond and Gustav Mellgren (Sweden), but the centre of the activity transferred to Beinn Bhan where there were four teams in action in the stupendous Coire nan Fhamair. Nick Wallis and Tito Arosio (Italy) climbed Gully of the Gods (VI,6) and Adam Booth and Slovenian climbers Nejc Marcic and Martin Zumer made an early repeat of Great Overhanging Gully (VI,7). Genesis (VII,7) saw its fourth ascent in the hands of Andy Inglis and Piotr Solowski (Poland), and Will Sim and Olov Isaksson (Sweden) also made the fourth ascent of The Godfather (VIII,8).

    Nearby in Coire na Poite, Neil Silver and Kenshi Imai from Japan pulled off the long-awaited second ascent of the 370m-long Realisation (VI,6). “It was a top quality route with sustained interest throughout,” Neil told me. “It’s at the top end of the grade and a harder outing than Central Buttress on Beinn Eighe.”

    The easily accessible winter cliffs on Meall Gorm proved popular. Gwilym Lynn and Felix Sattelberger (Germany) added a Direct Start (IV,4) to Cobalt Buttress, and Ian Parnell and Michelle Kadatz made a variation to The Blue Lamppost taking Grade VI vegetated grooves in the lower section before finishing up the final chimney to give a good VII,8. Just to the right, Rattlesnake (V,7) also saw an ascent. Elsewhere in the Torridon area, George (III,4), Poacher’s Fall (V,5) and Headless Gully (V,5) on Liathach were climbed in good icy conditions, and further south on Fuar Tholl, Right-End Buttress (III) was enjoyed by at least two parties.

    The most impressive achievement on the final day however, was the first ascent of Last Orders (VII,8) on An Teallach by Neil Adams and Kenro Nakajima (Japan). This magnificent groove-line, which cuts through the right side Major Rib, was one of the most significant routes of the week.

    Nick Bullock climbing Extasy (VIII,8) on Creag Meagaidh. The third ascent of this legendary route on the second day of the BMC Winter Meet set the tone for the rest of the week. Despite poor weather, more new routes and high standard repeats were achieved than ever before. (Photo Jon Walsh)

    Nick Bullock climbing Extasy (VIII,8) on Creag Meagaidh. The third ascent of this legendary route on the second day of the BMC Winter Meet set the tone for the rest of the week. Despite poor weather, more new routes and high standard repeats were achieved than ever before. (Photo Jon Walsh)

    The BMC Winter International Meet took place between January 27 and February 1. The meet was based at Glenmore Lodge, and 44 guests from 26 countries paired up with UK hosts to experience the delights of Scottish winter climbing. Despite the challenging weather and almost continuous gale force easterly winds, the meet was an outstanding success with over a dozen new routes and a significant number of repeats. Once again, Becky McGovern and Nick Colton from the BMC did a superb job keeping everyone teamed up with appropriate partners and staying cool and calm whilst fixing innumerable logistical issues.

    The big route from the early part of the meet was the third ascent of Extasy (VIII,8) on Creag Meagaidh by Nick Bullock with Canadian climber Jon Walsh on January 28. This long, serious and poorly protected route, which was first climbed during the 2005 Winter Meet by Bruno Sourzac and Dave Hesleden, has only been repeated once. Nick and Jon encountered difficult thin and ‘cruddy’ ice conditions. “Even Jon, who has done more hard Rockies alpine routes than most, was slowed down by the first pitch,” said Nick afterwards. In general, the snow was too heavy for good climbing on Meagaidh, although one determined team succeeded on Staghorn Gully.

    Ian Parnell and Michelle Kadatz from Canada took advantage of a very snowy Ben Nevis to make the fourth winter ascent of Centurion (VIII,8) on Carn Dearg Buttress. Although this route was first climbed in winter 28 years ago, it has maintained its reputation as one of the more difficult Scottish Grade VIIIs. This ascent rounded off an exceptional three days for Michelle who had already made the third ascent of Slenderhead (VIII,8) on Stob Coire nan Lochan and the fourth ascent of West Central Gully (VII,8) on Beinn Eighe.

    In Coire Ciste, Greg Boswell and Mirko Breckner from Germany made the second ascent of Heidbanger (VIII,8) on Central Trident Buttress. This challenging winter climb is graded E1 in summer and was first climbed by Rich Cross and Andy Benson in 2007. Nearby on South Trident Buttress, Fiona Murray and Siw Ornhaug from Norway repeated Gallifrey Groove (IV,5).

    Tower Ridge saw multiple ascents and was a wise choice in the conditions, but the low snow level also brought The Douglas Boulder into play. The classic South-West Ridge, Cutlass and Militant Chimney saw ascents, and on January 28, Neil Silver and Kenshi Imai from Japan climbed Nutless and added the Arete Variation (VI,6). The weather was wild the following day (January 29), but Rose Pearson from New Zealand and myself followed the summer line of East Ridge (IV,5). Rather surprisingly, I can find no record of a winter ascent of this short and accessible climb, which proved to be a good route for a stormy day. I returned again on January 30 with Stefan Jacobsen from Denmark to climb Alaska Highway (IV,4), the crest of the buttress taken by Lower East Wall Route before finishing up Tower Ridge.

    Dave Almond and Gustav Mellgren from Sweden braved the higher slopes of Coire na Ciste to climb Sidewinder adding the Unwound Finish (VI,6) which climbs up directly rather than traversing left into the exit gully as per the original route. The rarely climbed 1944 Route also saw an ascent by Ian Bryant and Pawel Wojdyga (Poland), and lower down on Carn Dearg Buttress Kenton Cool and Corne Brouwer from the Netherlands climbed Route One. Nearby on Am Bodach in the Mamores, Andy Nisbet and Ricardo Guerra from Portugal made the first ascent of the 350m-high South Buttress (II).

    Further South, Stob Coire nan Lochan was in superb icy condition and ascents were made of Scabbard Chimney, Sceptre, Raeburn’s Route, SC Gully, Moonshadow, Tilt, Chimney Route, Crest Route, Para Andy and Central Grooves.

    Greg Boswell and Mirko Breckner and Andy Inglis and Martin Zumer (Slovenia) made early repeats of Central Buttress with the Starting Blocks Start (VII,8), and Slenderhead (VIII,8) saw second and third ascents by Will Sim and Michelle Kadatz (Canada) and Ian Parnell and Olov Isaksson (Sweden). The finest performance in the corrie came from Harry Holmes and Polish climber Piotr Sulowski who made an ascent of Unicorn (VIII,8). Not only was Harry recently back from the Ice World Cup, but Piotr’s ascent of the difficult second pitch was his first ever Scottish winter lead!

    Andy Bain on the first pitch of Ardgarten Arete on The Cobbler. The new line of Ardgarten Blended (V,6) continues up the line on the right wall. (Photo Andy Bain Collection)

    Andy Bain on the first pitch of Ardgarten Arete on The Cobbler. The new line of Ardgarten Blended (V,6) continues up the prominent line on the right wall. (Photo Jake Thackrey)

    Jake Thackrey, Dougie Beck and Andy Bain made a good addition to The Cobbler on January 30 with the first ascent of Ardgarten Blended (V,6) on the South Peak. They followed the summer line (pitch 1) of Ardgartan Arete, before continuing up grooves and cracks on the right wall.

    “We were sat in the car park at Arrochar with a great forecast but the temperature was reading 5deg in the car so we were pondering whether to head up The Cobbler or go for the better bet of Stob Coire nan Lochan,” Andy explained. “Jake said that he had been eyeing up a unclimbed line and sold the decision with ‘if it stays clagged up we might get something new done.’

    It was only when we had crossed the corrie from the tourist path that we got our first glimpse of the South Peak covered in white hoar. This lifted our spirits after half an hour of knee-high snow plodding. We stayed on the Ardgartan Arête for the first pitch proper then trended up right and up a turfy crack to a ledge under the summer crux. This pitch was sensational and well-protected and well worth the effort and the gamble paid off big time. We also met two climbers from Leeds who were enjoying the awesome conditions on the South-East Ridge.”