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Guy Robertson on pitch one of Culloden, Creag an Dubh Loch
Photo by Greg Boswell
Sunrise from Creag an Dubh Loch, Scotland
Photo by Greg Boswell

Scottish winter climbing begins

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The winter climbing season in Scotland has begun with three noteworthy ascent: the first winter ascent of Boggle of Beinn Eighe by Martin Moran and Robin Thomas and the first repeats of Tomahawk Crack on Ben Nevis (Will Sim and Andy Inglis) and Culloden on Creag an Dubh Loch (Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell).

It's been a very slow start to the winter climbing season in Scotland, with much less activity than usual for this time of year, but nevertheless there have already been some important ascents worth highlighting. The season began in earnest at the start of December thanks to Will Sim and Andy Inglis on Ben Nevis, the true symbol of Scottish winter climbing. After a "warm-up" on Sidewinder (VII,7) on Sunday 6 December, the next day the two successfully made the first repeat of nearby Tomahawk Crack (VIII,9).

This "futuristic route" had been first ascended onsight by Greg Boswell and Adam Russell in November 2012 and commenting on the site Scottish Winter, Sim confirmed the importance and beauty of this recent addition "It’s a mega route and has the hallmarks of a future classic. Two hard pitches, the first thin, techy and run out and the second steep and pumpy – brilliant! A great find by Greg."

Ferocious storms then hit Great Britain and when these relented on Saturday 13 December Martin Moran and Robin Thomas headed up to Beinn Eighe where they made the first winter ascent of Boggle, a rarely repeated E1 first climbed in 1961 by Robin Smith and Andy Wightman and one of the few "summer" routes of this grade to not yet have been climbed in its winter guise. In it’s cold version it merits an impressive VIII,8 and as usual it is Simon Richardson of Scottish Winter who puts the ascent into context: "Although the season has barely started, the first winter ascent of Boggle will almost certainly be a contender for one of the stand out ascents of the winter."

While Moran and Thomas were busy up on Beinn Eighe, at Creag an Dubh Loch Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell were testing their mettle on Culloden (IX,9), a three-pitch outing described as being ‘sensational' and, interestingly, one of the first Grade IX routes in Scotland to have been first ascended onsight, by Iain Small, Gordon Lennox and Tony Stone in December 2010. While Robertson and Boswell confirmed both the route’s beauty and difficulty, their choice of climbing at Dubh Loch at the start of the season surprised some, seeing that this crag usually doesn’t spring to mind at this time of year. A choice that may seem risky, especially in view of the 4 hour approach, but evidently their reckoning proved perfect.


04/01/2014 - Ben Nevis winter climbing: Point Five Gully and Tower Ridge
Quintessential winter climbing in Scotland: Ben Nevis and the classic routes Point Five Gully and Tower Ridge introduced by the Mountain Guide Mike Pescod.

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