Greg Boswell establishes hardest winter climb in Scotland at Lochnagar
On Thursday 12/01/2023 Greg Boswell made the first ascent of 'Bring da ruckus' at Lochnagar. Graded XII 13, this 2-pitch outing is one of the hardest mixed climbs in Scotland.
Greg Boswell has made what is likely to be the hardest winter climb in Scotland with his extremely impressive single-day, ground-up first ascent of Bring da ruckus at Lochnagar.
The Scottish mountaineer teamed up with Hamish Frost and Jamie Skelton last Thursday and on reaching the col noticed that the huge black roof on the ominous triangular front face of Shadow Buttress A was in condition. This feature had never been climbed before, not even in summer, and after a herculean effort Boswell managed to breach it on his third attempt. Crossing the roof involves huge, extremely burley moves, and on his first attempt he fell when his axe got caught cutting loose, while on his second attempt he fell getting established over the lip.
Boswell lowered down, pulled the ropes and on his third attempt powered his way through the roof, not knowing what lay in store above. Although getting established over the lip constitutes the technical crux, the next few meters proved serious before he finally placed some gear and reached an adequate belay. Frost and Skelton followed and, braving the snowfall and onset of darkness, the trio climbed another long pitch to reach the end of the difficulties before abseiling back to their rucksacks.
After his ascent, the 31-year-old noted "It was awesome to get on something of this difficulty without knowing anything about what was above. Climbing the route ground up and swinging through the roof on blind, scrittley pick placements, not knowing remotely what was above was a real mental battle!" As to the overall difficulties, Boswell explained "The sustained nature of this route and the power packed and blind crux roof puts it above every other high grade route I’ve climbed in Scotland."
He has proposed the unprecedented grade of XII 13. While XII has already been put forward in the past, it is the tech grade (the second number) that has never been suggested before.
Boswell's winter curriculm is second-to-none and over the years he has amassed numerous bold first ascents such as Banana Wall at Coire an Lochain in 2015 and testing repeats, notably Dave MacLeod's The Hurting (repeated in 2011), Don't Die of Ignorance (repeated in 2012) and Anubis (repeated in 2019). Writing to planetmountain, Boswell explained that Bring da ruckus is "technically harder than anything else I’ve done in Scotland, or on trad gear in general."
Bring da ruckus is a major new addition to Scottish winter climbing. Although Boswell took two falls, it cannot be overstated quite how much ability and commitment this ground-up style, trad and in winter, at a remote crag in the Scottish Highlands, requires.
Boswell thanks: SCARPA, Petzl, Sunto, RAB, Leki, Lowe Alpine
Links: FB Greg Boswell, IG Greg Boswell, gregboswell.co.uk