On Friday November 2, James Roddie made the first ascent of The Hermit’s Hole, a new single pitch III,4 on the Upper Tier of the West face of Aonach Dubh in Glen Coe. It was a line James had scoped out earlier in the summer – here is his story:
“Two days ago the snow arrived in the Glen, and the storm and cold westerly winds of Thursday night made for a very snowy west face when I woke up this morning – so I decided to go and take a look.
It hasn’t been cold for very long in Glencoe yet so as I suspected there wasn’t much frozen turf, so this route was a logical choice as it is mainly on snowed-up rock. Coire nam Beith was very snowy on the approach so I was hopeful, and I was pleased to find that the route was plastered in snow and looked very promising.
A steep and awkward diagonal groove at the start was the crux, with no left footholds that I could find, but a firm pull-up on my arms got me to firmer ground and delivered me underneath what makes it an interesting route – a large balanced block forming a tunnel underneath.
Climbing through the tunnel was memorable and certainly a great place to be on my first route of the winter season. The initial groove felt about technical grade 4 but is probably a bit easier in better conditions and the route as a whole weighs in as a Grade III. As a recluse by nature, and a soloist enjoying total solitude on the west face, I decided to call the route The Hermit’s Hole”.