Winter mountaineering in Scotland / Greg Boswell adds difficult new mixed climb to Cairngorms
On 08/02/2017 Greg Boswell and Scott Grosdanof made the first ascent of Intravenous Fly Trap, a difficult new mixed climb at Coire an Lochain in the Cairngorms, Scotland.
After a somewhat slow start to the winter mountaineering season in Scotland, snowfall in late January finally brought many of the higher cliffs into winter condition. In truth some fine additions had been made previously in December and January, such as The Prentice Pillar (VII,8) in Glen Coe by Iain Small and Helen Rennard and Shark (V,7) on Braeriach by Roger Webb and Simon Richardson, but by far the most impressive addition this season is Intravenous Fly Trap climbed on 8 February 2017. This bold outing was put by Greg Boswell together with Scott Grosdanof at Coire an Lochain in the Northern Corries, Cairngorms, where in the past Boswell had established test pieces such as Banana Wall and The demon. Remarkably, Boswell climbed the grade X/10 crux pitch of Intravenous Fly Trap onsight after a 3.5 hour battle in the storm.
For the benefit those who don’t go climbing in Scotland regularly, can you put X/10 first ascent onsight into perspective?
It's hard to relate it to people who haven't done much in the Cairngorms in Scotland. It consisted of thin face climbing on poor hooks. This section was above some less than ideal ledges that would not offer a welcome landing if you were to come off the wall. Then, once you committed to the crux section which was very technical to figure out, you aim for what looked like inviting cracks but these were blunt seams that offered no purchase at all for pick placements. I had to force myself to stay calm and not get flustered whilst I tried to get in balance and found something to stop me from pealing away from the now overhanging wall.
Can you put it into context Greg with your other routes?
It is much harder and bolder than The Demon, with the technical climbing above suspect gear. The route had never been done in summer or winter so it was hard to commit to upwards progress, with hard moves leading away from less than bomber gear! Once I had committed, it would have been to difficult to retreat. Banana Wall is much steeper and the climbing feels much more sustained due to the angle of the route. But the climbing on Intravenous Fly Trap was still up there as some of the hardest climbing I've done in the Cairngorms. As to the onsight, it felt a step up from Siberian Tiger, The Hurting and Happy Tyrolleans in terms of difficulty and the fighting for good gear.
Yes, and the crux pitch was the first pitch. No gear was left in the route at all and it was a shame to look over to the right and see the awesome first pitch of Big Daddy littered with institute rotting gear! People should return and remove stuck gear if they don't have the skills to remove it on the day.
What’s particularly interesting is that, as you say, the route had never been climbed before, not even in summer.
The thing I love with new routing is that there is so much unknown about the climbing to overcome, this can make the route feel so much harder to climb. The next person to go and do it will now at least know that it is doable and have one less thing in their head to fight off as they look for a path to the top!
07/03/2015 - Greg Boswell climbs Banana Wall in Scotland
18/12/2013 - Greg Boswell makes first winter ascent of The Demon in Scotland