Scotland winter climbing update
Andy Turner and Tony Stone have carried out the first winter ascent of Sassenach on Ben Nevis and Ueli Steck has repeated The Secret. Ian Parnell and Andy Turner then carry out the first ascent of Bruised Violet (VIII,7,8,8,8,7) on Beinn Eighe.
Despite fickle Scottish winter conditions, the big news from Ben Nevis is that Sassenach, the classic summer E3 6a first climbed in 1954 by Don Whillans and Joe Brown, has now been climbed in winter by British climbers Andy Turner and Tony Stone.
Not content with this epic performance, Turner teamed up with Ian Parnell the next day and carried out the first ascent Bruised Violet (VIII,7,8,8,8,7) on the West Central Wall of Beinn Eighe. Located in the Torridon area of NW Scotland, this wild crag is home to some of Scotland's steepest winter multi-pitches.
After the rain on the walk-in turned to slush and then suddenly neve, Parnell and Turner decided that conditions were good and abseiled down to the base of the route. The duo required circa 11 hours to climb back out through the 90m of roofs and overhanging walls, with Parnell almost fainting on the crux. The five pitches were protected with trad gear and a couple of pegs only and Parnell, who had attempted the route previsouly on several occasions, describes this as being his hardest winter climb to date, adding "Sport mixed climbing may well have harder moves, the Alps has bigger routes but for me personally Scottish winter climbing is the ultimate form of mountain adventure you can have in a single day."
His description of Scottish winter climbing is echoed by Swissman Ueli Steck, who on the recent BMC International Winter Meeting carried out a fast repeat of Turner's The Secret which has now settled in at VIII,9, stating afterwards: "The moves are not that hard, but the fact you have to place your own protection makes the climb serious. That's what I was looking for. I have no more motivation clipping bolts on overhanging drytooling routes." Strong statement from a strong man. Let's see what the future holds.