Last Great Chimney on Ben Nevis, Font WI 10 Xby Marshall Gaz, Roberta Jinglestop, With thanks to Fairy Wife and the Turnipmaker Feb/2008
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"Once in a while in sport, the bar is significantly raised. These events are rare, but this is such a moment."
The Know-How got a fast repeat by a raiding Scottish team consisting of Guy God, Doctor Doolittle and English boy Ian Haribo. They confirmed the overall quality of the route but said the grade was way out.
However, standards don't stay still for long these days and it seems the bar (and the glass) has been raised again in World Winter Climbing.
UKClimbing.com brings you another exclusive report of a significant winter ascent
Check out the amazing video footage....below.
First the account:
Following an upping the ante lightning raid on Tunbridge Wells by team Chambre Neuf sponsored heroes, the dossers of the true House of Psyche- the one and only Banff Fortnum and Mason - today completed the first winter ascent of the greatest chimney line in the British mountains.
Helped by once in a lifetime conditions, this route is a stunning example of the Best the West has to offer with a tenuous traverse gaining the striking chimney line all on vertical quarter inch thick ice (you've already said that, get on with it-Ed).
Fairy Wife, LochABBA's finest snow slide poodle tipped off the team in between rounds of fired art latté prompting a quick last-minute training session at the Kinlochleven icicle parlour the evening before.
THE SIT DOWN START
Not being sponsored heroes, the team- Stevie Wonder and Captain Vivacious (the route not requiring double can openers, the Turnipmaker was left in his cage at the van), were unable to procure bouldering mats, so the final grade accounts for the severe groundfall potential braved. Due to the thin nature of the route a belay was also deemed superfluous, the crux sit-down start (see exclusive photo sequence below) was dispatched by Stevie Wonder on the second attempt following a close-shave with haemorrhoids (repeat ascensionists are advised to insulate critical areas). Captain Vivacious then strapped it on, stepping in to complete the traverse and chimney, ending, in the modern vogue, at the finish of technical difficulties just short of the summit.
POTENTIAL REPEAT BY PENT-UP FOOL
Pent-up Fool (yes that's his real name, the leader of the alpha Chambre Neuf sponsored hero team), rumoured to be currently crying into his onion soup in Chamonix, is putting together a one-off expedition to lochABBA, the lucrative business of Cream Guides extreme hill walking temporally put on hold- though the trip is being combined with an extreme hill walking marketing drive at the Fortnum and Mason Festival of Hillwalking Porn. Earlier, he contacted Fairy Wife to discuss the possibility of the route banking out slightly as his premier top-rope poodle Knickerbocker Glory has suffered a slight setback in the wrist department due to overtraining. The remaining team member Elspeth Tremblers, just back from his latest abseiling and snow-wading venture was also seen crying into his onion soup on seeing just how amazing conditions were, and as the newest member of the team is unsure as to how to deal with the aura of Randy Pynes, who will be accompanying them for their latest documentary series on CBEEBIES.
Sadly, the Wild West's finest news correspondent, Roberta Jinglestop of Lowland Ramblers missed the ascent due to caramel-scented smoke intoxication acquired while practicing snow hovel seduction for his extreme hill walking test. Fortunately, one Tomato Cripley, of Universal Klinging Conversing was on hand to witness, but having recently acquired a life-ban from the hallowed ground for biscuit stealing, was forbidden to attempt the line.
STOPPED SHORT OF THE SUMMIT AT THE END OF THE TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
Anyway, back to the more serious nature of the route. Following ground-up pre-inspection of key placements, Vivacious pulled out all the stops, combining multiple gratuitous shakeouts and hand swaps whilst managing not to fall off for a change. Reaching the end of technical difficulties, Captain Vivacious had to consult Muriel Scott by radiophone as to the ethics and technique of placing a lower-off bolt. However, this sacrilege was avoided as the batteries in the Hilti had run flat following the recent demise of the CIC wind turbine (was this caused by unusually large amounts of hot air?), forcing a tenuous downclimb instead. Neglecting his spotting duties Stevie Wonder was meanwhile scoping the potential on the North Face, but due to the rightwards-traversing nature of the line he decided to leave this for the Sheffield specialists.
THE GRADE DEBATE
So, to the all-important question of the grade... Stevie Wonder feels that in the Aiguilles de Langdale, it would be a minimum of Font WI 10 X for the sit start (without a pad, spotters, or the aforementioned insulation), whilst Vivacious feels that the chimney deserves at least Font WI 7++++. However, Guido Gobertson (unsportingly scratching a classic **** HVS with Bendy Blondie having been beaten to the line), observed from on high between bouts of blizzarding inferno that the line would only warrant grade III on the fearsome cliffs of Lochdinagarage. A round of celebratory deep fried Mars Bars greeted the ascensionists on their return to the House of Psyche having survived the descent in spite of Stevie Wonders famous inability to slide downhill (normally preferring the somewhat more direct free fall technique). The route has provisionally been named Fool Can't Cut the Onion ... but should team Chambre Neuf succeed, the Banff brigade is open to negotiation for a small fee of free gear. It will be interesting to see what oxygen-assisted hill walking grade Fool gives the climb given his extensive experience- consultation with the uber (but not huber) extreme hill walker Highline Jinx may be necessary.
We do apologise for the above being far less entertaining than the now-famous recent account of the ascent of The Know How on the Onion, this is due to the authors having far more climbing to do as well as frivolous pursuits (no wrist injuries here). Finally, for those of you who have nothing better to do, not being contractually tied to CBEEBIES, we are able to present the following video which actually includes some genuine cutting edge clambering. WARNING: this film is rated 18 months as it has extensive footage of grown men playing with their tools.
VIDEO: A GROWN MAN PLAYING WITH HIS TOOL - Rated: 18 months but "work safe"
Editing: by Marshall Gaz
Production: Roberta Jinglestop
With thanks to Fairy Wife and the Turnipmaker
Sponsored by Cream Guides