Greg Boswell makes first winter ascent of The Demon in Scotland
On 7 December Greg Boswell made the first winter ascent of The Demon (IX, 9) at Coire an Lochain in the Northern Corries, Scotland.
Despite an unusually mild December, winter climbing in Scotland has got off to an interesting start with a flurry of activity across the country. While there have been a series of first repeats and a handful of first ascents in the Ben Nevis range, according to Simon Richardson of Scottishwinter.com, the most important climb to date was carried out by Greg Boswell at Coire an Lochain in the Northern Corries where he made the first winter ascent of The Demon. In line with recent trends, this is a winter ascent of a summer climb; The Demon was established in 1983 on the No.3 Buttress and graded E2 by the first ascentionists Brian Davison and Andy Nisbet.
Boswell noticed the line a couple of years ago while climbing Happy Tyrolean’s and, after an extended period of ice climbing in Canada together with Nick Bullock, on Saturday 7 December he returned to the steep and imposing buttress with this in mind. With the rock plastered a pristine white, Boswell climbed rounded granite ledges past super technical, highly committing terrain to reach a belay, from where his partner Douglass Russell continued on up and in the dark to conclude the climb. The route has been graded IX,9 and Boswell's onsight certainly stands out as a fine testament to the skill of this young climber whose personal highlights include the first ascent of To Those Who Wait (IX, 9) and the first repeat of Don't die of Ignorance (XI,11, Dave MacLeod) both on Ben Nevis.
THE NORTHERN CORRIES by Simon Richardson
Coire an Lochain and Coire an t-Sneachda are two cliffs on the north side of the Cairngorms massif known as the Northern Corries. Cairngorms climbing is known for its long walks and secluded climbing areas, but the Northern Corries are different with a relatively short approach (1 ½ hours) from the Cairngorm ski area. The Northern Corries are comprised of steep buttresses, seamed with crack and grooves, separated by gullies. Facing north-west, they are quickly transformed into a mixed playground with the first storms of winter. The rock turns white with rime, the vegetation freezes, and ice dribbles down the many drainage lines resulting in conditions that Scottish winter climbers crave. Easy access and reliable conditions have meant that the Northern Corries have been the experimental laboratory for Scottish mixed. The contain many of Scotland’s most well known winter routes such as Savage Slit, Fallout Corner and The Hurting. Successive generations of leading Scottish climbers, from Tom Patey to Andy Nisbet, and Allan Mullin to Dave MacLeod, have left their mark with cutting edge routes. And, almost unique in Scotland, overseas climbers have made an impact too with important first ascents by the likes of Heinz Zak, Ines Papert and Charlie Fritzer. Greg Boswell’s recent ascent of The Demon (IX,9), the most impressive ascent of the Scottish winter season so far, continues to emphasise the importance of the area.