Mort (IX,9) for Boswell, Bullock and Robertsonby Jack Geldard - UKC Chief Editor Mar/2013
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Boswell took the lead on the second and crux pitch, but alas his onsight was blown by a loose block. He reported on his blog:
"After some up and down movements, trying to figure out a sequence through the roof, I eventually went for it and blasted my way upwards to gain a pretty comfortable position after the steep pulls.
With a bomber right axe placement, and what felt like a super solid left tool placement on a decent sized and very positive rock edge, I kept me right tool where it was and matched my left tool to place some gear on my left . After clipping the gear and re-matching my tool so I could reach out for my right axe again, the edge I was hooking (which turned out to be a forearm sized block) came away, and left me hanging from my springy lanyard on my right tool.
What then came out of my mouth, I'm not going to repeat. But as you might have guessed, I was not best pleased to be robbed of the onsight of this well known hard route. I was feeling super comfortable, after climbing the steepest section, just got some protection in and then I was off, due to unforeseeable circumstances of a loose block (that looked and felt super solid). I was gutted!"
The route had its first winter ascent back in 2000 by Brian Davison, Andy Nisbet and Dave McGimpsey, but had been attempted in winter as far back as 1985. For a full history read the excellent Scottish Winter news report by Simon Richardson.
After his thwarted onsight, Boswell had another try on the pitch, this time with success, but not without a fight. He reported on his blog:
"But after some huffing and puffing and some woeful whimpering which Guy and Nick got a little chuckle from, things like "I don't know if I can do this" and "I'm all Idea-ed out", I eventually unlocked a crazy sequence that allowed me to cross over the huge prominent fin that defines this route. After this I managed to keep gaining height with some more technical moves. But all the time I was moving up, there was still no gear to be had. I placed a crappy looking turf hook which was my last runner and my only one for quite a way.
The climbing eased a bit, but as there was still very little gear, my mind was still in full concentration mode. The last tricky section before the belay was a turfy bulging wall, but as the turf was quite aerated , it still kept me from relaxing until I had built and clipped the belay. Then it was ahhhhhhh...... another super technical pitch, with some bold and very complex climbing ticked. It took me about 4.5 hours to lead the crux pitch, and this is mostly due to the puzzling nature of the climbing. Once you work it out, and you pray that the tiny placements don't rip, then you can usually make some good progress."
Robertson took over the lead for the final hard pitch, and the trio topped out, with Boswell needing a headtorch for the final few metres.
He is also sponsored by Edelrid and Big Tree Campervans .