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Andy Turner on the first pitch of Xerxes, Lake District, England
Andy Turner on the first pitch of Xerxes, Lake District, England
Photo by Rich Cross

First winter ascents on Ben Nevis and Lake District

08.12.2008 by Planetmountain

Perfect winter conditions in Great Britain have resulted in a series of first ascents on Ben Nevis in Scotland and in the Lake District in England.

British Mountain Guide Rich Cross kicked off his winter season in style by making a swift repeat of the classic Sioux Wall VIII 8 on Ben Nevis together with Andy Benson. Two days later the duo returned to the Ben and carried out the first winter ascent of Heidbanger.

Braving savage weather on 1 December they ventured high up to Trident Buttress to find the three pitch summer E1 in stunning conditions. The two spent all day climbing up thin hooks and spaced pro and finished the final pitch in the dark.

Although a grade hasn't been put forward yet, Rich's comment provides food for thought: "Not too sure about the grade, but on Sioux Wall we had a later start and topped out at 3.30pm, so this probably says something about Heidbanger Direct…"

On Tuesday Cross travelled back south to the Lake District and teamed up with Andy Turner and Steve Ashworth to capitalise on "brilliant winter conditions on the steeper high crags: good turf, rime, powder etc. The best in recent years according to the locals."

The three walked in to Gable Crag and made the first ascent of Winterceptor VII, 8, a direct line up middle of the crag which starts up Engineers Slab, moves into Interceptor and finished up the spectacular overhanging groove on Mome Wrath.

Not content, the next day the trio paid Scafell a visit and in perfect blus skies carried out the first winter ascent of Xerxes, a summer HVS described by Rich as being "Four pitches with some very insecure climbing - sloping holds, blind cracks, off-balance grooves and poor gear. All very awkward and scary but never technically desperate so tricky to grade. Probably top end VII 7 with spectacular positions and a great winter ambiance."

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