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    Browsing Posts tagged Helen Rennard

    Two contrasting views of the first pitch of Twisted in Stob Coire nan Lochan. The left photo shows Malcolm Bass enjoying delicate mixed conditions on the first ascent, and the right photo shows Dave Almond taking advantage of useful ice at the same point on the second ascent. “There was quite a bit of the first ascent was on ice too,” Malcolm commented. “We were of the belief that ice would be critical, so had waited till there was a drool at the top of the wall.” (Photos Simon Yearsley/Helen Rennard)

    Two contrasting views of Twisted (VII,7) in Stob Coire nan Lochan. The left photo shows Malcolm Bass enjoying delicate mixed conditions on the first ascent, and the right shows Dave Almond taking advantage of useful ice at the same point on the second ascent. “Quite a bit of the first ascent was on ice too,” Malcolm commented. “We were of the belief that ice would be critical, so had waited till there was a drool at the top of the wall.” (Photos Simon Yearsley/Helen Rennard)

    “Back in November Harry Holmes, Dan Tait and I went into Stob Coire nan Lochan in Glen Coe with the aim of making the second ascent of Twisted, a three-pitch three star VII,7 to the left of Chimney Route put up by Simon Yearsley and Malcolm Bass last March,” Helen Rennard writes. “However, on the day we found the bottom pitch to be bare, Chimney Route dripping and the rest of corrie disappointingly unfrozen, so we returned to the car having got up nothing.

    Onto January and I was climbing with Dave Almond the weekend of January 11-12. Dave was up from Liverpool for his first trip of the winter and, as ever, was highly motivated to get out, having been training hard at White Goods since October. We were keen to avoid too much driving so opted to stay local to Fort William (where I live). I texted Simon on the Friday for his thoughts on Twisted and he replied “I’d be worried about it being black…I’d have a Plan B.” As it turned out, being too black was not an issue!

    Dave did a great job leading the first pitch, remaining completely calm despite getting only three lots of gear in 30 metres. Pitch one was easily the crux, though the rest of the route maintained a high quality of (run-out!) climbing in an impressive situation. Comparing photos with Simon afterwards it was clear that Dave and I had climbed the route in contrasting conditions to the first ascent; where Simon and Malcolm had been delicately hooking on snowed-up rock, we had had usable ice for most of the route. We thought the VII,7 grade still applied for our conditions, and Dave described it as having “a tasty first pitch followed by a mellow second pitch.”

    As it was, the climb was the least exciting part of the day. While we were gearing up in the foot of Twisting Gully the cornice above us collapsed. I heard a loud ‘boom’ and seconds later was being pummelled by wet heavy snow that obliterated everything around me. I was clipped into the belay, but Dave wasn’t, and I was convinced he had been swept away. After what may have been minutes, but maybe it was only seconds, the snow subsided. Then there was shouting and confusion. Below us, Adam and Dougie Russell and Steve Johnstone, who were under Chimney Route and had also been hit, were shouting up at us to check we were OK. They could see the end of one of our ropes trailing in the snow below with no one attached and thought the worst. I didn’t know what was happening and thought someone had gone, but Dave was still next to me, and Adam, Dougie and Steve were all unharmed. Cue some nervous laughter and Dave commenting that he’d have grabbed onto me as he went past if it had come to that…

    And, with that, he set off up pitch one, not being a man who is easily scared. But it was certainly a lesson to be more aware of the objective dangers when winter climbing in Scotland, and I think it’s fair to say, that the five of us had a lucky escape.”

    Malcolm Bass on the first winter ascent of Turkish on Ben Nevis. “We thought it was about VII,7 on the day, uncommonly amenable for a Ben Nevis HVS, enjoyable in its variety and situations and definitely worth a star!” (Photo Simon Yearsley)

    Malcolm Bass on the first winter ascent of Turkish on Ben Nevis. “We thought it was about VII,7 on the day, uncommonly amenable for a Ben Nevis HVS, enjoyable in its variety and situations and definitely worth a star!” (Photo Simon Yearsley)

    Malcolm Bass, Helen Rennard and Simon Yearsley had an excellent day on Ben Nevis on Saturday January 4, when they made the first winter ascent of Turkish (VII,7) on Number Five Gully Buttress.

    “Since climbing Free Range with Jim Higgins back in 2011, Simon and I have been waiting for an opportunity to get back on Number Five Gully Buttress,” Malcolm explained. “We’re not really drawn to winter ascents of classic summer rock routes, but the HVS Turkish, described in the Ben guide as ‘a poor route’, was first climbed in 1967, and hasn’t experienced a noticeable surge of popularity since then. So it was deemed a legitimate target.

    This area of the buttress faces south-east, and needs cold damp south-easterlies, or at least southerlies, to come into winter condition. Through last week the seemingly endless gales swung south-easterly for a few days and hopes were raised. But would there be enough of a gap in the storms to allow for an attempt? On Saturday there was, but it was forecast to be warm the preceding night before dropping colder during the day, and the cliffs were well defended by wet, fresh, slabby snow on the approaches. So, with Helen Rennard, we decided on a late start to let things cool and settle down, and packed spare head torch batteries. The bowl underneath the buttress can be nasty, so we’d planned to get in by abseiling down to the foot it from high on Ledge Route. But luckily, Number Five had already avalanched, very impressively, so we were able to climb the debris and then skirt round just under the crag.

    The climbing on the route was very varied. Steep corners with exits on good ice. Consolidated snow allowing progress up compact slabs. And a delicate technical crux. We are fairly confident that we followed the summer line, but a 1967 summer route description defined by ‘loose blocks’ on pitch three isn’t the best guide to a snowy 2014 ascent. At the base of the big corner we weren’t sure where to ‘trend across the left wall’. On my first attempt I went too far up the corner and experienced a rapid downwards trend. Party conference was in favour of a more defined steer to the left, and that took us across delicate sloping slabs to the crux steps under a bulging wall, which yielded (eventually) to crimps, undercuts, and thin hooks to gain a steep corner full of stacked flakes, well bonded by ice. We think this was where the tension traverse was used to avoid loose blocks on the summer first ascent. The darkness took us on this pitch, but there was virtually no wind.

    After topping out on Ledge Route we dropped down this a way, then, mindful of the lurking snow bowl, abseiled down to the sacs, and cramponed back down the avalanche chute to the CIC. The empty hut, the quiet mountain, stillness, darkness and gently falling snow – The Ben had trusted us with sight of one of its less familiar moods.”

    Helen Rennard climbing pitch two of Day of The Doctor (IV,5) on Ben Nevis during the first ascent. The route was repeated next day by Robin Clothier and Pat Ingram taking a more direct line on the final pitch, (Photo Simon Yearsley)

    Helen Rennard climbing pitch two of Day of The Doctor (IV,5) on Ben Nevis during the first ascent. The route was repeated next day by Robin Clothier and Pat Ingram taking a more direct line on the final pitch. (Photo Simon Yearsley)

    On Saturday November 23, Simon Yearsley and Helen Rennard added a new route to North Trident Buttress on Ben Nevis. Simon takes up the story:

    “Over the weekend, freezing levels seemed hard to predict, with anything from 900m to 1100m for the West, depending which forecast you chose. So Helen and I banked on going high, and headed over to the Ben. We were in a new route mood, so we headed up to North Trident Buttress to look at the buttress tucked between Nereid Gully and Left-Hand Ridge. The buttress is fairly small, but does have a very obvious and very fine looking ramp line on its right hand side. From below, the ramp looked to be about grade III, but, as is often the case with features like this, as soon as you set off, the climbing proved to be a bit harder. Short steep steps with not so great gear lead upwards… but I then decided to head rapidly downwards in a silly 7m fall when an axe ripped. The rope caught in my crampon, spinning me into an inelegant upside down clattering fall. A peg just below me ripped, but a lower sling (and Helen’s belaying!) caught me.

    I’ve taken very few leader fall in winter, and was a wee bit shaken… but with Helen’s encouragement, and few giggles at the daft position of me being lowered back to the belay with my leg high above my head, I dusted myself down, and I set off again. The ramp is a very fine feature and gave two great pitches before joining Left-Hand Ridge above its crux. We followed the excellent horizontal arête of Left-Hand Ridge for one pitch, and then spotted a series of turfy grooves immediately right of the crest of the buttress between Jubilee Climb and Nereid Gully. This gave a final 50m pitch before the angle kicked back and we sauntered to the top.

    Thinking about a name for the climb is always a fun part of new-routing. Chatting through different ideas, we realised that over 10 million people across the UK were going to be glued to their TV screens later than evening watching a 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. So, the name was easy – Day of The Doctor.”

    The route was repeated next day by Robin Clothier and Pat Ingram. “Robin and Pat climbed a slightly better final pitch,” Simon told me. “Above the flat section of left-hand ridge, where we climbed turfy grooves on the right of the arête, they climbed the deep groove in the arête itself. We’d looked at this but time was pressing, but it’s probably a better finish at the same overall grade.”

    Tony Stone making the third ascent of Arthur (VIII,8) on Number Three Gully Buttress, Ben Nevis. The first winter ascent of this imposing line was made by Bruce Poll and Tony Shepherd in 2004 and was the third Grade VIII to be climbed on the mountain. (Photo Iain Small)

    Tony Stone making the third ascent of Arthur (VIII,8) on Number Three Gully Buttress, Ben Nevis. The first winter ascent of this imposing line was made by Bruce Poll and Tony Shepherd in 2004 and was the third Grade VIII to be climbed on the mountain. (Photo Iain Small)

    If last weekend’s activity is anything to go by, Ben Nevis has taken over from the Northern Corries as the venue of choice for high standard early season mixed. Harry Holmes and Dan Tait set the tone on Thursday November 21 with an ascent of the steep corner-line of Cornucopia (VII,8) on the left flank of Creag Coire na Ciste. This route has become something of a modern test-piece, but it can be even more challenging early in the season when the tricky entry pitch is not banked out by tens of metres of snow in Number Three Gully.

    The following day was forecast to be a little warmer, but Iain Small and Tony Stone decided to take a chance and head up to the Ben to take a look. “Luckily the freezing level kicked in below the Number Three Gully Buttress area,” Iain told me. “The snow pack is pretty impressive for this time of year, so no struggling up snow-covered scree! Conditions were pretty icy with some neve even on bigger ledges and the rock was getting rimed and verglassed in the damp mist. We climbed Storm Trooper (VIII,8) by the original start up the flake-crack and finished up the final chimney of Cornucopia. It was very good route, which deserves to be climbed more often. Somehow, it seems to have been overlooked compared with other surrounding lines.”

    On Saturday November 23 there were plenty of strong teams in action on the high cliffs of Coire na Ciste. Andy Inglis and Neil Adams made an ascent of The Secret (VIII,9), whilst nearby, Blair Fyffe, Richard Bentley and Robin Clothier made an early repeat of Archangel (VII,7). Across on Number Three Gully Buttress, Iain Small and Tony Stone made the third ascent of Arthur (VIII,8). This steep and rarely climbed summer HVS was first climbed in winter by Bruce Poll and Tony Shepherd in January 2004, and was repeated by Ian Parnell and North American ace Kelly Cordes during the 2005 BMC international Meet.

    The following day (November 24), Pete Macpherson and Erick Baillot visited the Archangel area and made the second ascent of Avenging Angel Direct (VIII,8). Direct, steep and uncompromising, this is one of the finest mixed lines on the mountain and was only first climbed in its entirety by Neil Adams and Jim Higgins last February.

    Neil Adams and Andy Inglis made it a memorable weekend with an early repeat of Apache (VIII,9), the steep crack-line to the right of Sioux wall on Number Three Gully Buttress. Next door, Harry Holmes and Helen Rennard made a smooth ascent of the modern classic Sioux Wall (VIII,8). “It was brilliant and really enjoyable,” Helen told me. “There were some amazing hooks, and it was never that hard. We started late and finished in the dark but it was still clear with an amazing starry night.”

    Simon Yearsley making an ascent of Savage Slit (V,6) in Coire an Lochain on Cairn Gorm. Savage Slit reliably comes into condition with the first snows of the winter and is a popular early season choice. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Simon Yearsley making an ascent of Savage Slit (V,6) in Coire an Lochain on Cairn Gorm. Savage Slit reliably comes into condition with the first snows of the winter and is a popular early season choice. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Strong westerlies brought the first real snows of the 2013/214 Scottish winter season during the last days of October. There are rumours of an ascent of Fingers Ridge (IV,4) in Coire an t-Sneachda during the first snowfalls last week, but the first batch of this season’s winter routes were climbed over the weekend and Monday.

    Blustery conditions and poorly frozen turf, meant that many folk climbing in the Northern Corries went away empty handed over the weekend, but further west, parties were more successful on the mountaineering classics suxh as the Aonach Eagach and Ledge Route on Ben Nevis.

    Yesterday (November 4), Duncan Hodgson and Mark Chadwick visited the Northern Corries and climbed the modern classic Hookers Corner (VI,6). Next door on No.4 Buttress, Helen Rennard and Simon Yearsley made an ascent of Savage Slit (V,6).

    “Sensible route choices are always important, but none more so than with the first snows of the winter,” Simon told me. “It’s tempting to rush out to “grab the white stuff”, but it was pretty obvious that from following the forecasts that no turf would be frozen by Monday (as Helen found out the day before when she’d taken a walk into Coire na Ciste on the Ben to check out conditions), so it was all about routes which can be climbed in a good coating of snow but don’t rely at all on turf. Routes like Fingers Ridge, Crest Route, Crypt Route, Hookers Corner Savage Slit and Mess Of Pottage are good objectives, and yesterday was no exception!

    Helen and I walked into Coire an Lochain with deep snow in the boulders around the eponymous lochan and the cliffs plastered with rime and heavy snow. Savage Slit was beautifully white, with lots of effort needed to uncover the cracks for gear, and coupled with the wind it was a full-on reintroduction to Scottish winter! Mark Chadwick and Duncan Hodgson found similar conditions on Hookers Corner, and later in the day we also bumped into Lou and her partner after they’d done a route on Mess of Pottage, and also heard later that Andy Nisbet and Dave McGimpsey enjoyed a fun (and possibly slightly more sheltered) day out on Fingers Ridge. I must admit I did feel pretty tired after the Ice Factor Festival of Ice Comp on Saturday, but walking back down to the car park, we both agreed that it felt wonderful to be back in the swing of things… here’s to more white stuff!”

    Harry Holmes leading the crux pitch of Raven’s Edge on Buachaille Etive Mor. This excellent route was first ascended in winter by Aberdeen climbers Rick Allen and Brian Sprunt during the great January storm in 1984. They avoided the crux open book corner by taking the rib to the right. The summer route was first climbed in its entirety by Rab Anderson and Rob Milne in March 1996. (Photo Harry Homes Collection)

    Harry Holmes leading the crux pitch of Raven’s Edge on Buachaille Etive Mor. This excellent route was first ascended in winter by Aberdeen climbers Rick Allen and Brian Sprunt during the great January storm in 1984. They avoided the crux open book corner by taking the rib to the right. The summer route was first climbed in its entirety by Rab Anderson and Rob Milne in March 1996. (Photo Harry Homes Collection)

    Harry Holmes, Helen Rennard and partner made a rare repeat of Raven’s Edge (VII,7) in Glen Coe on March 26. The superb route takes the narrow buttress to the right of Raven’s Gully

    “We had the mountain pretty much to ourselves,” Harry told me. “There were two other cars in the car park but we didn’t see anyone else all day. We found there to be two quite hard pitches, those being the second and third. The second pitch is a thin traverse and the third is a long sustained corner. The off-width horror show I was expecting at the top never seemed to really materialise.

    I think VII,8 might be a fair grade as it felt harder than any  tech 7 I’ve done before, and was reasonably sustained. Conditions on the Buachaille were looking really good and even Ravens Gully looked nicely iced!”

    “It was a great route,” Helen confirmed.” Harry did really well leading. There was quite a lot of loose rock (a big rock came off when he was leading the crux). We climbed up a very icy Great Gully to get to the route – quite an approach!”

    Dave Macleod setting off on the second pitch of a new VII,8 on the East Flank of Tower Ridge of Ben Nevis. “It was a really good varied route with interesting climbing, a pumpy crux pitch and great situations,” his partner Helen Rennard summarised afterwards. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Dave Macleod setting off on the second pitch of Angry Chair, a new VII,8 on the East Flank of Tower Ridge of Ben Nevis. “It was a really good varied route with interesting climbing, a pumpy crux pitch and great situations,” his partner Helen Rennard summarised afterwards. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Dave MacLeod and Helen Rennard added a good new icy mixed route on Ben Nevis on Tuesday February 26.

    “We didn’t have a definite plan on Tuesday and took up a large mixed rack and ice screws so we had the option of either ice or mixed,” Helen explained. “Dave had been up on the Sunday and had seen that there were still mixed routes to be done up Observatory Gully, but as a temperature inversion was forecast we thought it might be too warm. We stopped for tea at the Hut and then decided to head up there and have a look anyway. Dave had seen some potential new lines on the wall right of Clefthanger and when we got there it looked to be in good condition.

    I led the first pitch, which started up snowy steps and then went left up an open corner and series of steep ramps past a large booming flake at half height and onto snowy slabs above. The snow was cruddy and mostly unhelpful and there was lots of clearing. There was ice in the cracks too. The hooks in the corner crack were good and the flake provided a welcome rest, though I wasn’t entirely convinced how solid it was…

    Dave led the second pitch, which was the crux and went up the snow-covered slabs and left into a steep icy corner. He was out of sight once he stepped round into this. There was a good bit of ice on this pitch, though not enough to front point on, which made it difficult. There were good hooks on the right wall near the top of the pitch, then a heave onto the belay ledge.

    The third pitch went up past a large block on a ledge then slightly down before traversing across a five metre vertical wall to get to Grade IV ice. The protection at the start of this pitch was two Peckers and, whilst there was a decent handrail for your axes there was nothing much for your feet. I set off to lead this pitch, then promptly passed it over to Dave when I saw the traverse! Once on the ice we continued up this to easy ground, from where we traversed off to the left and into Tower Gully.

    We walked back down under the stars with Iain Small, who’d just done Astronomy with Blair Fyffe and Nona Thomas. Then more tea at the Hut, kindly served to us by Rich Bentley. A good day all round!”

     

    Simon Yearsley starting up the second pitch of Beggars Belief (VII,7) on Ben Nevis during the first ascet. The crux wall is visible diagonally above his right shoulder. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Simon Yearsley starting up the second pitch of Beggars Belief (VII,7) on Ben Nevis during the first ascent. The crux wall is visible diagonally above his right shoulder. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Simon Yearsley and Helen Rennard added a testing new route to the left of Vanishing Gully on Ben Nevis on Wednesday (January 16). Simon decribes their ascent:

    “Helen and I were out yesterday looking at the Secondary Tower Ridge area on Ben Nevis.  I’d often thought of this as an interesting place to visit, as there do seem to be some gaps, and there’s an awful lot of rock! In this area there’s a good combination of mixed routes (Fat Boy Slim), the classic gullies (Vanishing) and some mixed climbs which rely on good plated ice (Running Hot).

    I was intrigued as to why the summer VDiff line of Beggar’s Groove hadn’t been done in winter.  Neither of us had climbed in this area before, so we weren’t too sure what the characteristics of the rock would be like (often a critical factor with mixed routes on the Ben), but I did remember Iain Small’s quote when he and Simon Richardson had climbed the nearby Rogue’s Rib back in March 2011 ‘The cracks are good and it’s turfy’, and ‘It’s slabby without much gear’. Two intriguing quotes… the only way to find out what Beggar’s Groove was like was to give it a try!

    Helen led the first pitch, the obvious chimney mid way between 1934 Route and Vanishing Gully which proved fun, and belayed below a steeper area.  From here we took a long time trying to figure out where the Beggar’s Groove went, but simply couldn’t follow the summer description. So we headed up the natural winter line – a nice open groove, a short traverse left and then a steep wall. This gave the first crux of the route, with hard but good climbing… and no, the cracks weren’t great and what turf there was, was very pebbly and very thin indeed! It was very time-consuming to lead the pitch, as route finding wasn’t straightforward, the placements difficult to unearth, and the spaced protection not easy to find. The light was fading as we tackled another couple of (still interesting) pitches, and then headed into steeper ground above as the night closed in.

    By now we were down to one decent headtorch and one pretty dim headtorch, and Helen’s lead of the final pitch was a superb piece of climbing. This was the second crux and gave 50m of absorbing technical climbing including a steep technical crack, and a very precarious mantelshelf onto a turf blob which had her only protection for 8m embedded in it – a bulldog which of course came out a wee bit too easily.  The pitch finished with a superb diagonal rightwards traverse across steep slabs with just enough dabs of thin turf to climb, but certainly not to protect easily. What was it that Iain had said? Oh yes – ‘…slabby without much gear’.  His description was spot on. I definitely thought it was an excellent pitch to second!

    Overall grade of VII,7 is probably about right, but it’s definitely high in the grade, with a pretty serious feel to the two crux pitches. Worth at least one star.

    The route finished on Tower Ridge, which we descended, wondering to ourselves what folk in the valley would be thinking as they saw lights descending Tower Ridge late at night… ‘There goes another party over-extended on Tower Ridge and bailing’. Over-extended… nearly. Bailing, definitely not. We called the route, ‘Beggars Belief’, partly because it was close to Beggar’s Groove, and partly because it did beggar belief as to how long it can take to climb new mixed line on Ben Nevis!”

    Blair Fyffe on the initial ramp of The Copenhagen Interpretation (VI,7) on South Trident Buttress, Ben Nevis. This route benefitted from icy conditions - The Ben has been particularly icy at mid-altitude elevations over the last couple of weeks, and the current fluctuating temperatures should continue to see the ice building over the coming days. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Blair Fyffe on the initial ramp of The Copenhagen Interpretation (VI,7) on South Trident Buttress, Ben Nevis. This route benefitted from icy conditions – The Ben has been particularly icy at mid-altitude elevations over the last couple of weeks, and the current fluctuating temperatures should continue to see the ice building over the coming days. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    On November 3, Blair Fyffe made the probable first winter ascent of Blue-Nosed Baboon on Garadh Buttress on Ben Nevis. This summer VDiff went at a winter grade of V,5 and is described on Blair’s excellent blog. Whilst climbing this route Blair noticed a prominent line starting up a ramp on the other side of Coire na Ciste on South Trident Buttress. Blair assumed this was the line of The Minge (VII,8), but later study of the guidebook revealed that The Minge took a line further left.

    Wind forward to December 18 when Blair was climbing on The Ben with Helen Rennard. They decided to take a look at South Trident Buttress and the result was The Copenhagen Interpretation, a good five-pitch route taking the initial ramp, followed by two difficult pitches up grooves and cracks leading to easier ground in the vicinity of Joyful Chimneys. The pair was assisted by consolidated snow-ice on the slabs on the second pitch that linked the two crack systems, and the crux crack above may have been made easier with a good coating of ice.

    “The Copenhagen Interpretation is an interpretation of the unusual mathematics of quantum mechanics,” Blair (a PhD Astrophysicist) told me. “The ephemeral and uncertain world of the sub-atomic particles shows similarities to the transient and uncertain world of Scottish winter climbing conditions. Both worlds, although challenging, and in some ways always alien to us, have an other worldly beauty.”

    Dave Almond making an early repeat of Tuberculosis (VI,6) on Stob Coire nan Lochan. This rarely climbed two-pitch route takes the steep groove right of Crest Route and was first ascended by Dave Hollinger and Guy Willett in February 2004. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Dave Almond making an early repeat of Tuberculosis (VI,6) on Stob Coire nan Lochan. This rarely climbed two-pitch route takes the steep groove right of Crest Route and was first ascended by Dave Hollinger and Guy Willett in February 2004. (Photo Helen Rennard)

    Last week (December 10-14) was undoubtedly the week of the winter so far. Heavy snowfall was consolidated by a mini-thaw the previous weekend followed by stable cold weather with no wind and blue skies.

    Several of the major events have already been reported on scottishwinter.com – Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell’s first ascent of the Vapouriser (VIII,9) on Creag an Dubh Loch, Martin Moran and Pete Macpherson’s third ascent of Steeple (IX,9) on the Shelter Stone and Andy Nisbet and Brain Davison’s good run of new routes in Glen Coe and An Teallach.

    The Cuillin Ridge came into good conditions and four teams made the winter traverse. Both Scott Kirkhope and Ken Applegate and John Orr and Ronnie made a traditional outing with a bivouac, whilst the Fort William-based team of Guy Steven, Donald King, Kenny Grant and Duncan made a lightning-quick traverse in only 12 hours. This is very respectable time for a summer ascent and the team was aided by King’s intimate knowledge of the route. All these ascents were widely reported on various blogs and Twitter, but more impressive perhaps was a solo traverse by Barry Smyth with one bivouac. The Cuillin Ridge has been traversed in winter solo before, but to do it mid-winter with precious little daylight and long nights takes a very special resolve.

    Dave Almond had a good run of routes with Helen Rennard. They started off with The Secret/Cornucopia Combination (VII,8) on Ben Nevis, followed by Tyrannosaur (VI,7) on Lost Valley Buttress in Glen Coe. On their third day they climbed Sidewinder (VII,8) on the Ben and finished off their four-day spell with an early repeat of Tuberculosis (VI,7) on Stob Coire an Lochan. Dave then teamed up with Guy Steven and Blair Fyffe to climb Sticil Face (V,6) on the Shelter Stone with the Direct Finish.