/ NEWS: INTERVIEW: Dave MacLeod - Scottish Winter / Ben Nevis

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UKC News - on 11 Mar 2013
40 degree roof crack, 4 kbDave MacLeod gives his thoughts on Scottish winter conditions, on his recent new routes, on internet reporting and on his favourite climbs on Ben Nevis.

"My personal favourite is probably Anubis, summer or winter. It just climbs so well and takes such a great rock feature. I had a great time trying to climb it in both summer and winter... Eventually I totally went for it and the moves were great..."

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67892

johncoxmysteriously - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

>Some of the times I think about most were evenings I ran up to work on Echo Wall by myself. I worked away on the moves until 10.30pm and then could run down Tower Ridge to the hut in 20 minutes or so and back to the dam in another 20 and head home for tea.

Sheesh!!

jcm
Ian Bentley - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

As someone who has never done any winter climbing (beyond an ice wall in covent Garden!)(so sorry if this is a stupid question), was just wondering what a wall being white or rimy actually means? Is this where it has a covering of snow or ice? and does this protect the rock underneath from damage by the tools, even if it's a thin layer?

I'm sure i'll get accussed of trolling but just genuinely trying to learn more and understand another side of climbing. Hopefully it's not too much to ask from ukc forums to get a helpful answer!
a lakeland climber on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Ian Bentley:

White just means being covered in some form of snow or ice.

Rime is a form of ice. It's wind deposited and builds up on the windward face of whatever is in the way - think fence posts with what looks like a flag out to one side - the saturated wind came from that direction and froze on the surface and just built up.

ALC
Mark Bull - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Ian Bentley:

> and does this protect the rock underneath from damage by the tools, even if it's a thin layer?

No.
In reply to Ian Bentley:
> and does this protect the rock underneath from damage by the tools, even if it's a thin layer?

No, you normally end up scraping it away to find the cracks underneath.

The reason that it is seen as important is as routes moved out of snow and ice gullies on to mixed ground, and as they got steeper meaning climbing on rock walls for further, rather than on snow covered turfy ledges or turf and ice chocked cracks and chimneys, it became a real question of what makes this a winter climb? Is it being January enough? Well not really, because in the freaky weather the UK can sometime get you might find mountain crags in January totally devoid of snow and ice at all. It might be chilly but you could climb routes in the same way you do in summer. Climbing a dry Vdiff with your crampons on and axes in hand and pretending it's a V,6 is just silly, hence the idea came along that if the route isn't an icefall it should still be "wintery" to make it a winter ascent. Wintery has come to mean either huge amounts on snow around, stuck in cracks etc, on every little flat edge, or actual hoar frost that whitens all the rock, even vertical and overhung.
In reply to Ian Bentley:

Savage slit as a summer climb: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=152118 and the same route very much in winter conditions http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=91145
Ramblin dave - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to TobyA:
Would I be right in thinking that this has traditionally been considered roughly equivalent to the principle that it's a winter route if crampons and tools make it easier rather than harder? And that sticking to either principle ends up having some weird consequences now that winter / dry tooling technique and equipment has advanced to the point that some sorts of rock are now actually easier with tools and crampons than without even when they're dry?
atapper21 - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News: Dave has such a refreshing outlook on climbing, reading his views makes me want to spend more time climbing everything that inspires me, It's a lesson learned for me.
Michael Gordon - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to atapper21:

Agreed, it's always interesting to hear his thoughts on things. Great wee interview!
Kyuzo on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Great interview, thanks for that
royal - on 12 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:
Good interview. I'd spend more time on here if there were more people talking sense like Dave does.
Frank the Husky - on 12 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News: It's no surprise that Dave's interview is so well informed, ego free and thoughful, devoid of "the usual UKC" paranoia and bile. Good reading and well done to him for not getting into slagging matches with muppets on here.
In reply to Frank the Husky:
> muppets on here.

You think the people who contributed to the thread like Parnell, Currie, Webb, Brunskil, Durran, Nisbet and others who are Scottish VII or harder leaders are "muppets"? Don't you think they're exactly the sort of people who at least have the experience to have an informed opinion (you of course don't need to share it) on Scottish winter ethics. Why are they muppets?

Taurig - on 12 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Good interview. Pushing the game forward is always going to ruffle a few feathers. It's something I'll never have to concern myself with (ethics of silly hard winter), but it is exciting to see how they will develop. I'm sure Dave knows the ethics better than the vast majority, but at the bleeding edge he is also likely to find them the most restrictive. The critics are only aware of what has been 'lost' because be was honest enough to tell them.
Steve Perry - on 12 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News: Good interview, his thoughts explain his actions well.
Ramon Marin - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

What Dave is trying to say is that he can't no longer push his limits in Scotland with this old school ethics. Maybe the hardest that can be climbed with white condition is grade XI? But what about the harder lines and the future of scottish winter? I think this conversation is fascinating, as Dave is the trailblazer in hard scottish winter climbing. He might find that he needs to start focusing in Europe instead is scotland is a dead end for harder than XI? Specially when the focus has shifted in Europe, where all the hard lines climbed this year were on gear, as Dave mentions himself with the ascent of Robert Jasper.

It would be really interesting to see what would happen when Greg wants to push the Scottish grade, is it possible to have a grade XII or XIII? Or will they just be drytooling routes? In light that the harder routes don't white often or at all, do the ethics need to be more flexible? Time will tell.

Personally, I always found very exciting the thought of how far we can take the mixed game on gear, as the sport mixed is a dead end (well, from M12 and above it's just drytooling in most cases). Is the trad scottish a dead end as well too with the current ethics?, and, will all the exciting new hard ascents will happen in Europe? that would be really sad in my opinion. I certainly don't know the answer as I don't really do scottish winter climbing.
HeMa on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to Ramon Marin:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Is the trad scottish a dead end as well too with the current ethics?

I would say so. If the wintery/needs to be white rules apply. The biggest roofs just will not get rimed or snow (or if they do, it's once in a 100 years kind of deal). So steeper lines are not the answer (normal way of creating harder continental mixed routes).

The only other option would be to climb longer stretches of really thin and insecure hookin' (on edges, no cracks) with long reaches. Sure, such lines could be climbed. But not sure by how many, if at all. Because at some point it simply means that the climbing is so insecure and each more 1 in a 100, people would simply get bored (or dead). This holds especially true for the ground-up (onsight is possible) ethics also true for Scottish winter climbing.

my 0.02 pence, for what it's worth.
In reply to HeMa:

> If the wintery/needs to be white rules apply. The biggest roofs just will not get rimed or snow (or if they do, it's once in a 100 years kind of deal).

I'm not sure if it's that uncommon. http://gregboswell.co.uk/index.php/2013/01/25/the-cathedral/p1030998/ That's looking straight up, all the underside of the roof is white, and the Cobbler isn't a particularly high mountain.

HeMa on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to TobyA:
>
> I'm not sure if it's that uncommon. http://gregboswell.co.uk/index.php/2013/01/25/the-cathedral/p1030998/ That's looking straight up, all the underside of the roof is white, and the Cobbler isn't a particularly high mountain.

Well, that roof is between 5 to 7m long. Modern continental mixed test pieces are more or less 30+m roofs. So yah, after a point they most likely won't rime up... or rather, it's quite unlikely.
neil the weak - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to HeMa:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> Well, that roof is between 5 to 7m long. Modern continental mixed test pieces are more or less 30+m roofs.

I'm not sure how much time you've spent around scottish mountain crags but there is a bit of a paucity of quality 30m roofs of good quality rock in Scotland....

I do agree that the white / ground up trad ethic combines to make it very hard to push the technical aspect of winter climbing beyond a certain point here as the faces that would be hardest to climb would probably also be termianlly bold and not many if any folk are going to go ground up on that kind of thing. This does only limit and handfull of folk though, and you could easily make an arguement that maintaining the adventure ethic outweighs that small cost.
Michael Gordon - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to HeMa:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> Modern continental mixed test pieces are more or less 30+m roofs. So yah, after a point they most likely won't rime up... or rather, it's quite unlikely.

Yes but we don't have those in Scotland.

(I'm sure if we did Dave would already be there!)
Eärendel F. - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to UKC News: Seems all a bit silly somehow as most of the world doesn't get rime in the winter. Are these ethics just applied to Scottish climbing? What is your opinions of all the other winter ascents for example where there is plenty of bare rock and snow but -20 or even -30? Do these ascents not count as winter ascents?
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Michael Gordon - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Eärendel F.:
> (In reply to UKC News) Are these ethics just applied to Scottish climbing?

Pretty much, yes. One of the great things which makes Scottish winter unique!

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