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NEWS: UPDATED: Bring Da Ruckus, XII 13, by Greg Boswell and Jamie Skelton

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 UKC News 14 Jan 2023

Greg Boswell and Jamie Skelton have made the first ascent of Bring Da Ruckus, XII 13, at Lochnagar. 

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4
 Paddy_nolan 14 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

So sick 

8
In reply to UKC News:

Bloomin' Henry Greg! For a minute I thought you were just climbing on a single pink rope with no gear in the roof. You're taking Scottish winter climbing in an amazing direction.

Post edited at 12:06
1
In reply to UKC News:

Utterly outrageous.

 Franco Cookson 15 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

Proper legends! Amazing effort. 

In reply to UKC News:

Chuffin’ heck that looks wild!!!

 Misha 15 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

A single photo doesn’t tell the whole story but guess I’ll be the first to point out that this looks like dry tooling on trad gear rather than mixed climbing. I get that big roofs don’t hoar up easily and the trend in recent years has been towards leaner looking lines, partly due to the angle, partly due to fickle conditions and partly due to a somewhat consumerist attitude fuelled by Instagram. I also get that there may have been dribbles of ice and blobs of frozen turf - I’m not suggesting it was in summer condition. However even the headwall above isn’t exactly ‘white’. Winter conditions come in all shapes and sizes and this looks rather questionable. I suspect the rest of the route was more wintery but still…

My opinion is just that and not worth much, but I think I’d someone is going to do a cutting edge winter route, it would be great if they do it in ‘proper’ winter conditions (which has been the case for many other top ascents by Greg and others). People would respect that but also it would be more in keeping with the spirit of winter climbing. I get that winter climbing has evolved significantly over the last 15-20 years and continues to evolve but I find photos like this a bit sad, really. I know this makes me sound like an old curmudgeon and I haven’t even been winter climbing since Covid but it’s just what I think. No doubt others will have different views. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, climbing ethics are of little consequence in the scheme of things.

65
 Greg Boswell 16 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

Please see the pics in the link.
In the climbing shot, almost the full headwall is in view, but is from above unfortunately. As you can see it’s a little more than just a dusting on edges. As is usually the case with the beloved top down winter photos.

In the shot of the wall from below, in one of the pics I’ve coloured in a section red and there’s an arrow. That arrow is pointing to a huge groove filled with massive snowy turf pillows, which is hidden by the red wall. This groove was in the same impeccable winter condition as the massive left wall in the same photo. This leads all the way to the back of the roof. 
 

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-6Arp15XWJqy0c-4hGdM8H_W41zJ_U_Q

1
 DannyC 16 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

I get what you’re saying but I think at some point as top-end grades and ethics evolve, we may just need to accept that the undersides of roofs *very* rarely hoar up. Even when they do, gravity means that it’s always going to be cosmetic and kind of an irrelevant aesthetic dusting. This fact is accentuated on the harder routes, simply because the roofs are bigger.

Also, it’s important to look at the route in total, rather than one short section. Eg here is the coire that day: https://www.instagram.com/p/CnZBT0RND8I/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

The FA could have simply shared photos from above and not an eyebrow would be raised. I think if we start to question ascents on days like that, development will grind to a very quick halt.

Separately, to do this ground-up is a remarkable achievement. Almost unimaginable to leap into the unknown like that.

1
In reply to Misha:

Your pictures of Scotch on the Rocks and Birthright don't have any hoar at all on them, does that make your ascent a summer one?

The answer is of course not. 

Like you said, winter conditions come in all shapes and sizes.  I don't think Greg's ascent is questionable in the slightest. 

Its a mixed climb, there is going to be some rock, that's ok.

13
In reply to Misha:

I was wondering how long it would take for someone to comment on the conditions...

I'm glad things have moved on since 2013. Dave Mac got a whole lot of bollocking for doing routes in similar conditions https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2013/03/dave_macleod_-_scottish_winter__ben_nevis-67892 But the question back then was the same as now, for Scottish grades to progress we need to accept that steep angles won't look white, despite them being in nic or not. Obviously neither climber would dare to publicise an ascent if they thought the conditions were questionable. Luckily this time it seems like the intervening 10 years has put some sense in most armchair pundits and have accepted this reality. 

I for one can't wait to see what this opens up. 

8
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

In fairness to Misha, Scottish conditions ethics are hardly the same in the Alps, just looking at the video of Tom doing No siesta looks like drytooling all the way and it was a winter ascent. 

 Tom Green 16 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

Haha! That’s funny, because as soon as I saw the first pictures that Greg released I thought “That’s good, at least there’s no doubt about it being in decent winter nick, so we won’t have the same chat that happened when Dave McLeod did Anubis”

Turns out I was wrong! Which I guess highlights some of the subjectivity of winter cons. My thoughts, having gone back and looked with a more critical eye, are that it is far more ‘in’ than half the mixed routes that get climbed each winter. 

And I’m sure Greg doesn’t need me or anyone else fighting his corner but, for some context, it’s perhaps worth remembering that he waited for Anubis to be whiter than both previous ascents before getting on it so he doesn’t really have form for climbing in marginal cons. 

2
 Cam Forrest 16 Jan 2023
In reply to Tom Green:

Yes, I get the impression that not everyone has looked at the images which Greg posted at 06.54, especially IMG_5007.

 Tom Green 16 Jan 2023
In reply to Cam Forrest:

Even before looking at those, I thought it looked totally legit! Maybe I've spent too much time at Masson so any white looks like winter!

1
 Michael Gordon 16 Jan 2023
In reply to Ramon Marin:

The difference to me was that Anubis was an overhanging wall which had been often in excellent nick; indeed it had previously been attempted by MacLeod, and later repeated by Greg, in such condition. Looking at the insta pic this looked to me like a section of roof (OK, fairly black but a horizontal roof!) with a big headwall above which looked very much in nick.

 aln 16 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

It's an amazing physical achievement, and looks like mental fun. But it's dry tooling in winter. 

35
 Misha 17 Jan 2023
In reply to DannyC:

You’ve hit the nail on the head there. As suspected, the additional photos linked by you and Greg show that the wider picture was far more wintery. However it is also clear that the roof was pretty ‘black’. It sounds like the headwall was no pushover but the roof was the crux and a substantial section of that pitch. As you say, perhaps we need to redefine what constitutes a proper winter ascent on routes like this, accepting that they will rarely rime up (incidentally, I don’t agree that rime is just cosmetic - depends how rimed up the rock is but rime can obscure placements, at least at my punter grades).

However I feel that something is lost when it’s like this and I find that a bit sad. Perhaps it’s a case of being more patient and waiting for more wintery conditions - and if they never arrive when you are available to go climbing, just accept that you won’t do the route. After all, rock climbers accept that with summer routes, except that it’s easier because if a route is wet, you wouldn’t want to be on it anyway (at least not if the route is hard for you).

Just to prove the point, Dave MacLeod got some stick for his FWA of Anubis. I recall people saying at the time that such steep terrain hardly ever hoars up. Yet compare the conditions on Greg’s third ascent. 
 

https://www.planetmountain.com/en/photos/dave-macleod-new-desperate-winter-climb-in-scotland/4686?s=1

https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2019/02/3rd_ascent_of_anubis_xii_12_by_greg_boswell-71843

Back in 2010, Greg and Will Sim put up a route called To Those Who Wait. Seem to recall they said they waited for it to rime up before their eyes to ensure a more wintery experience. 

20
 PaulJepson 17 Jan 2023
In reply to aln:

Its got turf and snow and rock. Isnt that the whole point of mixed, that it captures a multitude of styles?

1
 Misha 17 Jan 2023
In reply to Somerset swede basher:

I see your point (although there’s no way I’d have got up either route without enough ice) but clearly Alpine ethics and climbing style are completely different. We can debate the rights and wrongs of that but it’s a fact that the ethics of what is considered to be ‘in condition’ are different. Scottish winter would be a fair bit easier without having to scratch around for gear and placements but may be that’s just for punters like me. Sure, it’s not unusual to have ‘some rock’ - but a considerable section which also happens to be the crux…

7
 Misha 17 Jan 2023
In reply to Ramon Marin:

It’s roughly 2:1 ‘against’ my first post, so consensus seems to be shifting as you say. Ethics are never static, they are what we make them to be. I do wonder though whether Scottish winter climbing ‘needs’ to progress, if this is the direction it’s going in.

I suppose the silver lining is it’s local (at least for those living in Scotland), so the carbon footprint of going continental style mixed climbing in Scotland is going to be lower than doing something similar in the Alps.

Edit - guilty as charged re armchair pundit. I’m mostly an indoor boulderer these days 🤣

Post edited at 00:34
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 Misha 17 Jan 2023
In reply to aln:

On reflection, I was unduly harsh to suggest it was dry tooling on trad gear. Even though it seems to have been pretty ‘dry’, it would have been a very different experience to dry tooling (even ignoring the much more wintery ground below and above). Continental mixed would be a fairer way to describe it. 

11
 DaveHK 17 Jan 2023
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Its got turf and snow and rock. Isnt that the whole point of mixed, that it captures a multitude of styles?

I've always thought mixed climbing involved ice and rock, traditionally that's what it meant. So things like Raven's Gully or NE Buttress on the Ben. As a style of climbing this route seems to be snowed up rock rather than mixed although some people seem to use the terms interchangeably.

Post edited at 07:18
 Michael Gordon 17 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

> Back in 2010, Greg and Will Sim put up a route called To Those Who Wait. Seem to recall they said they waited for it to rime up before their eyes to ensure a more wintery experience. 

Surely you've got to look at the pitch as a whole, not just a short section of it. If Greg and Will hadn't waited, it would've been black most of the way up. Personally I don't see how anyone could look at that instagram photo (i.e. the whole photo!) and not think it looks like a winter ascent.

1
In reply to DaveHK:

In my experience on the upper grades is just drytooling, certainly when the going gets tough. I don't think I've done any hard moves in any VIII's or IX's that weren't drytooling, despite the white dusting or clearing of cracks, it's picks on rock most of the time.

Post edited at 11:25
 jezb1 17 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

Surely someone with Greg's experience has earned a bit of benefit of the doubt? I mean he's done an absolute butt load of winter climbing, and was actually there...

I get he's human etc, but it seems a little disingenuous to say anything other than positives about what he's done.

10
In reply to Ramon Marin:

There does seem to be confusion/cross-purposes with terminology. Maybe because it is evolving and because it can mean different things in different places (eg Alps and Scotland). I think "mixed" used to mean a mixture of ice and rock, but in Scotland, at least, has come to include snowed-up or rimed rock. I think dry-tooling, to most people, means there is no pretence of winter climbing (at least in the Scottish sense) but is just climbing rock with tools, so, if applied to Scottish winter, will probably imply inadequate whiteness and criticism of the conditions. It strikes me that roofs which are never going to be white should probably be fair game if the rest is white.

Post edited at 13:37
1
 Dangerous Dave 17 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

Cliff looks in full winter nick to me. Struggling to see the other side of the debate here, some visible rock is to be expected, especially on a massive roof.

2
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Its got turf and snow and rock. Isnt that the whole point of mixed, that it captures a multitude of styles?

I wouldn't bother, I clicked on aln's profile to see if this was going to turn into a hard Scottish winter activist slap-fest, but Mr aln says, along with his best onsight being I/II, that he "enjoy[s] firing drive-by posts". So perhaps it's just a bit of a troll.

1
 Rank_Bajin 17 Jan 2023
In reply to Ian Parnell:

I recall you giving Dave Mac a hard time after his Ben Nevis routes back in 2013 or so due to conditions. 
Maybe DM was ahead of his time or perhaps you’ve mellowed with age. 
 

In reply to Robert Durran:

That's a very good observation in the language Robert and yes I do agree and apologies for the confusion.  

 aln 17 Jan 2023
In reply to PaulJepson:

In the clip he's using ice axes and crampons on rock. 

21
 Michael Gordon 17 Jan 2023
In reply to Rank_Bajin:

Dave Mac has been ahead of his time in many respects, however one or two of his ascents have drawn criticism due to conditions. You may be referring to White Noise (?) which pretty much everyone including Dave accepts was a pure dry tool route. But I can also see his point of view that it was a good challenge, may never be climbed as a summer trad line, and probably never claimed it to be a winter route in the first place.

 IceBun 17 Jan 2023
In reply to aln: So, just like the mixed climbing that has been practiced for decades, particularly in the Cairngorms, but also across Scotland? Rob nails it with his comments with the exception that snowed up and rimed rock was part of the game a long time ago in Aberdeen so it’s maybe that it has spread from the NE. In fact we would often clear the snow or rime to find the footholds - better that than wildly scratching your front points down a granite slab until you find one. I do recall the debates back in the day around things like the Carn Etchachan routes or Needle but we didn’t have the joys of social media to allow us to idly stab knives at people from the comfort of our sitting rooms.

1
Message Removed 17 Jan 2023
Reason: Misleading content
 aln 17 Jan 2023
In reply to IceBun:

I'm not stabbing anything at anyone, just stating facts.

13
 aln 17 Jan 2023
In reply to aln:

> In the clip he's using ice axes and crampons on rock. 

Are the 7 dislikes saying this is incorrect?

17
 DaveHK 18 Jan 2023
In reply to aln:

> In the clip he's using ice axes and crampons on rock. 

That's what snowed-up-rock climbing involves and that's been part of the Scottish Winter game since time immemorial. Whether it's snowed up enough is the question being discussed.

2
 DaveHK 18 Jan 2023
In reply to aln:

> Are the 7 dislikes saying this is incorrect?

Can't speak for them all but mine was for the fact that it looks like you've got involved in a debate that you don't really understand.

3
 Andy Moles 18 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

Here we go.

Not only the debate immemorial about whether little ice feathers are an essential precondition to hooking rock, but an online sales dispute.

Da ruckus has been brought.

1
 Dangerous Dave 18 Jan 2023
In reply to aln:

The dislikes are because you are being deliberately provocative, either that or you don't know what you are talking about. 

3
 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to DaveHK:

>> In the clip he's using ice axes and crampons on rock.

> That's what snowed-up-rock climbing involves and that's been part of the Scottish Winter game since time immemorial. Whether it's snowed up enough is the question being discussed.

I think this highlights the absurdity of the whole debate really. There are lots of arbitrary lines in climbing, but to me this seems like one of the most bizarre.

Clearly ice lines can only be climbed when they're 'in', and it's been decided that turfy lines should only be climbed when frozen because otherwise the turf/environment gets damaged. This makes pretty good sense to me.

However, as far as I can tell from my armchair, these hard lines are almost entirely drytooling, or at least the hard sections are, in which case the winteryness is basically irrelevant apart from making you uncomfortably cold and hiding holds underneath rime/hoar, which must make a difference to the difficulty I admit. We know that the rime doesn't do anything to protect the rock, so I really don't see why there's any reason that this sort of climbing is acceptable in winter conditions, but not in summer. Anyone able to shed any light on that?

I can see that drytooling on snowed up rock presumably evolved from people going winter climbing on the more traditional ice lines and gullys etc. so it makes sense that it's a winter pursuit, but I don't really understand why now these hard routes are almost all drytooling it can't evolve to being a summer thing too? Tbh I kind of feel like it's a just a not very well kept secret that obviously it would be considered unacceptable in summer (though I'm not really sure why, beyond the rock damage argument, whish applies equally to both summer and winter), so people who like doing it have to wait for a dusting of snow to justify doing it, which in reality changes very little from an ethics point of view. Or is it just because doing it in winter feels more hardcore and that's nice?

Should also say it's really cool that this was done ground up, nice one Greg! Wonder how big the falls were.

5
 IceBun 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover: you maybe need to get out of your armchair and on them to understand. You’ve maybe got an old troll harness you could wear when you get out there😏

11
In reply to Fellover:

I've climbed to technical 6 maybe 7 so nowhere close to these levels, but I suspect even on routes this hard there are still grubby cracks and seams with frozen in grit, soil, micro bits of grass or whatever in them which is what the front tooth of the tool is catching on. It seems that top level activists like Greg and Guy Robertson amongst others, are much more interested on going on big grubby soggy cliffs with little or no rock climbing on them and doing routes there, rather than doing winter ascents of clean or cleaner preexisting summer rock climbs, as happened to a reasonable degree in the Northern Corries in the mid 80s. I suspect that many top winter climbers - maybe if Greg see this discussion he could give us his view - prefer routes that genuinely are mixed to pure snowed up rock. If you get a chance to see the Brit Rock film Ephemeral with Guy and Greg, the route that Greg leads on Church Door buttress is amazing looking as he climbs hard mixed to access an utterly terrifyingly thin smear of ice. It's completely gripping but shows just how mixed Scottish mixed still is! 

 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to IceBun:

I do on rare occasions get out of my armchair and go to Scotland for winter climbing, including one route with significant sections of drytooling on snowy rock, so I have some idea of what's going on, admittedly at a rather lower grade than xii 13! It hasn't helped with my understanding  of why drytooling rock is ok in winter but not in summer.

To be honest though, the majority of weekends I've made the effort to drive up I've ended up not climbing anything because of conditions deteriorating/not appearing, so I'm a lot less inclined to make the effort these days.

2
 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to TobyA:

Yeah I admire the fact that lots of the top Scottish winter climbers out there are climbing big inaccessible routes that may well actually be easier in winter, or only really ethically acceptable in winter because some pitches need ice smears or frozen turf etc.

That argument is not really the point though, the reason there's some quibbles in this thread about whether it was sufficiently wintery or not is all aimed at the roof section, which seems to be pretty pure drytooling. Would your line of thinking be that as long as any mixed bits (e.g. the lower groove pitch on this route) that need to be climbed to get to the drytooling bits are 'in' condition then it's fair game to go for the dry tooling bits regardless of whether they're snowy looking or not? Genuine question btw, not a trap or anything, I'm just trying to work out what other people think is ok or not, when it comes to winter conditions.

 PaulJepson 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

The reason there are quibbles is timing. UKC uproar comes in waves and unfortunately Greg did this route just long enough after the Pegbolt fury that he's next in line. 

Even the top climbers are still learning. Greg, if you read this, the conditions of forum anger are as important as the conditions on the hill. Make sure you monitor them closer next time, and before going ground-up on any more 13s make sure that there is significant outrage here at the time. A couple more days delay and people could have been frothing at something more justifiable, like rights in Dartmoor, and you would have got nothing more than praise.

4
 Mr Lopez 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

> To be honest though, the majority of weekends I've made the effort to drive up I've ended up not climbing anything because of conditions deteriorating/not appearing, so I'm a lot less inclined to make the effort these days.

Sounds like the bizarre arbitrary line worked and you didn't just dry tool something because 'since we are we might as well get a climb in'. 

Extrapolate that to several hundred people a day and the bizarre rule starts making more sense. 

1
 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> Sounds like the bizarre arbitrary line worked and you didn't just dry tool something because 'since we are we might as well get a climb in'. 

> Extrapolate that to several hundred people a day and the bizarre rule starts making more sense. 

In what way does it make more sense? What's the difference between 100 people doing slightly rimed up 'mixed' routes which are basically just drytooling vs 100 people doing them without the coating of rime?

2
 Smelly Fox 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

Dry tooling in the mountains in summer? My tuppence worth…

This would prob lead to a huge amount more erosion around the base and tops of crags, and the destruction of all vegetation on the route (I can’t think of many mountain rock climbs with none at all)… maybe a good thing for some, but not the best for the environment.

Im not totally against it in certain circumstances though. Totally clean rock should (probably) be considered AOK, depending on the rock type. Can also be argued it helps clear away loose stuff making for a better rock climbing experience…

Edit: And of course, chapeau Greg, that route looks incredible, and in really impressive style!

Post edited at 14:01
1
 DaveHK 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

> I think this highlights the absurdity of the whole debate really. There are lots of arbitrary lines in climbing, but to me this seems like one of the most bizarre.

Totally agree. The whole thing is entirely arbitrary and will stand absolutely no rational scrutiny. That's one of the things that make the activity of winter climbing so compelling.  

Post edited at 15:51
 Michael Gordon 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

> However, as far as I can tell from my armchair, these hard lines are almost entirely drytooling, or at least the hard sections are, in which case the winteryness is basically irrelevant apart from making you uncomfortably cold and hiding holds underneath rime/hoar, which must make a difference to the difficulty I admit. We know that the rime doesn't do anything to protect the rock, so I really don't see why there's any reason that this sort of climbing is acceptable in winter conditions, but not in summer. Anyone able to shed any light on that?>

The 'summer' question is answered on the basis that unlike good summer trad routes, a lot of snowed-up rock routes are quite blocky and have loose rock which really needs to be frozen in place. This was particularly clear during the poor 16/17 season when a lot of cliffs looked white but often weren't frozen; a problem on occassion even on the no.3 gully buttress routes which as snowed-up rock routes would usually be an example of good route choice.

A more pertinent question concerns why routes need to be white and not just frozen. To me the answer of course lies in UK climbing/mountaineering history. When folk started doing winter ascents of the trickier peaks and easier ridge/buttress routes it was quickly realised that a 'winter ascent' was more down to snowy conditions than time of year; the former therefore became a pre-requisite for claiming a winter ascent of a peak or route. Essentially, ascents of harder routes are a logical extension of these ethics. 

 DaveHK 18 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

I'll just leave this here:

youtube.com/watch?v=NUOrZ1uz51s&

 Michael Gordon 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

> the reason there's some quibbles in this thread about whether it was sufficiently wintery or not is all aimed at the roof section, which seems to be pretty pure drytooling. Would your line of thinking be that as long as any mixed bits (e.g. the lower groove pitch on this route) that need to be climbed to get to the drytooling bits are 'in' condition then it's fair game to go for the dry tooling bits regardless of whether they're snowy looking or not? Genuine question btw, not a trap or anything, I'm just trying to work out what other people think is ok or not, when it comes to winter conditions.

I think the majority are probably looking at the line as a whole and granting Greg a bit of understandable leeway with regards to the roof section. Believe me, if the whole thing had looked black, other top climbers would be showing their disapproval.

 Mr Lopez 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

The difference with current ethics is that without the rime the 100 people would not be climbing the route and, go home instead to spend the rest of the evening trolling on ukc. 

 Fatal 18 Jan 2023
In reply to DaveHK:

Not significantly whiter is it ?

Nice scrambling up vague chimneys on powdered choss, though no crampons and no ice axe. Why not…


 

 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> The 'summer' question is answered on the basis that unlike good summer trad routes, a lot of snowed-up rock routes are quite blocky and have loose rock which really needs to be frozen in place. This was particularly clear during the poor 16/17 season when a lot of cliffs looked white but often weren't frozen; a problem on occassion even on the no.3 gully buttress routes which as snowed-up rock routes would usually be an example of good route choice.

This is sort of true, but not true for lots of routes as well. E.g. The Crack on Gimmer is a great summer route, which isn't particularly loose, as well as being a winter route. All routes like The Crack need to be seen as 'in' for a basically dry tooling ascent is a light coating of snow.

> A more pertinent question concerns why routes need to be white and not just frozen. To me the answer of course lies in UK climbing/mountaineering history. When folk started doing winter ascents of the trickier peaks and easier ridge/buttress routes it was quickly realised that a 'winter ascent' was more down to snowy conditions than time of year; the former therefore became a pre-requisite for claiming a winter ascent of a peak or route. Essentially, ascents of harder routes are a logical extension of these ethics.

To be fair, ice and turf based routes do need to be frozen for an ascent. Ice for obvious reasons! Turf for pretty sensible ethical reasons. Whereas lots of drytooling style routes don't need to be frozen, which is kind of the point I'm making.

The idea that winter conditions are harder and therefore to claim a winter ascent it has to be done in (very vaguely defined) winter conditions does make sense, we see similar arguments with running e.g. winter Bob Graham's. It doesn't really answer the question of why it's acceptable to drytool this rock in winter but not in summer though, is it allowed if I make a drytool ascent in marginal snow conditions, but to avoid any doubt about my claims, just say it was a summer ascent not a winter ascent?

3
 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> I think the majority are probably looking at the line as a whole and granting Greg a bit of understandable leeway with regards to the roof section. Believe me, if the whole thing had looked black, other top climbers would be showing their disapproval.

But why is it that the dry tooling above the roof (which is a bit snowy) is totally acceptable, but the roof bit is only acceptable cos the rest of the route is 'in'? Presumably both bits are at the same temperature, the general winteryness of the day is the same, the damage done to the rock will be basically the same.

I do get it that winter routes are supposed to look wintery, but it just seems a bit ridiculous to me that some people (admittedly a small number) will call out Greg for dry tooling a black looking bit of roof, but not care about drytooling the bit above cos it's got a small amount of snow over it.

3
 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> The difference with current ethics is that without the rime the 100 people would not be climbing the route and, go home instead to spend the rest of the evening trolling on ukc. 

Which is so much more fun than shivering outside

In reply to Fellover:

How many winter ascents has The Crack (VS 4c) had? One? Two? Wasn't it Birkett who did the FWA?

 Michael Gordon 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

Robert Durran brought up the issue of terminology earlier. Calling snowed-up rock climbing 'drytooling' is completely misunderstanding both terms and really doesn't help others to understand the point you're making. 'Drytooling' by definition is tooling rock without snow on it; 'snowed-up rock' is, well, you get the idea.

Drytooling - as most of us understand the term - is frowned upon by many in the context of Scottish winter climbing (though many will also understand the argument of 'what's the harm as long as it's frozen'). So not really 'acceptable' in any season but you're unlikely to get lynched for it.

In reply to Fellover:

> I think this highlights the absurdity of the whole debate really. There are lots of arbitrary lines in climbing, but to me this seems like one of the most bizarre.

I agree that the whiteness thing is contrived from a pure climbing point of view. The only uncontrived approach would be to do whatever is easiest in the conditions, so tools/crampons if that is easiest and boots/hands if that is easiest. Admittedly this will very often coincide with the whiteness thing, but not always. This is, in fact, I think how stuff is generally approached in the Alps or beyond (why would you make it harder than it need be?). 

So I think the interesting question is to ask why we've ended up going with the contrived whiteness thing rather than the pragmatic approach. I can think of several reasons, none of which are entirely satisfactory!

Post edited at 20:55
 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think I agree with that entirely.

 Fellover 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Robert Durran brought up the issue of terminology earlier. Calling snowed-up rock climbing 'drytooling' is completely misunderstanding both terms and really doesn't help others to understand the point you're making. 'Drytooling' by definition is tooling rock without snow on it; 'snowed-up rock' is, well, you get the idea.

I don't really agree with that, but maybe I've just got it wrong. To me drytooling means picks on rock, rather than in ice/snow or turf. Climbing snowed up rock where the picks are going through the snow and onto the rock is to me dry tooling. I think this is where the absurdity is. Climbing bare rock = dry tooling = bad. Climbing rock with a light dusting of snow (even though the snow doesn't protect the rock from the picks in any way, or really change the moves at all) = 'mixed' climbing = ok. Seems frankly ridiculous.

> Drytooling - as most of us understand the term - is frowned upon by many in the context of Scottish winter climbing (though many will also understand the argument of 'what's the harm as long as it's frozen'). So not really 'acceptable' in any season but you're unlikely to get lynched for it.

Why would the rock care if it's frozen or not from a drytooling point of view?

6
 Michael Gordon 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So I think the interesting question is to ask why we've ended up going with the contrived whiteness thing rather than the pragmatic approach. I can think of several reasons, none of which are entirely satisfactory!

I mentioned the most likely explanation earlier - simply to demarcate bona fide winter ascents from those climbed in winter but not really giving the full winter experience.

 Michael Gordon 18 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

> I don't really agree with that, but maybe I've just got it wrong.

OK, let's leave it at that.

> Why would the rock care if it's frozen or not from a drytooling point of view?

It wouldn't, but you might if you pulled a block off. A pick can be quite an effective lever.

2
 Andy Moles 19 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

Sod it, I'll bite.

A couple of answers to the 'why not tool routes in summer' question.

Firstly the less convincing answer: traffic. If there was ethical carte blanche to tool anything, anytime, we'd be on a slippery slope to a lot of rock climbs being scratched to shit. True, this can be extended to an argument against snowed-up rock climbing in general, but if there's to be a hard line drawn somewhere on the spectrum of pure ice/mixed/icy rock/dry rock then 'not wintry' is as sensible a place as any.

Secondly, forget the ethics for a moment, for the vast majority of routes it would feel totally weird. There are exceptions (like steep things with thin cracks, or roofs where mobile jugs and increased span are more useful than tiny edges), but for most climbs it's simply picking the right equipment for the job: rubber shoes and chalky fingers for dry rock, picks and crampons for frozen slippery rock.

The second point puts top-spin on the first, because you've gone from people tooling rock when it's the most practical way to climb the route to people tooling rock when it's an impractical way to climb the route.

If the desire to climb things has an intrinsic value to be balanced against the impacts of doing it, which I don't imagine anyone on this forum would argue it doesn't, then drawing a line at climbing in a way that is both harder and more damaging than the conditions allow makes sense.

1
 Drexciyan 19 Jan 2023

I'm not sure anyone has mentioned it but few years back didn't Dave Big Mac make a first ascent of a route called the Snotter on Ben Nevis which was not accepted by the SMC with the reason given that the crux moves accessing the icicle were on black rock? Assuming the crux of this route was the roof then would this not be rejected as well following that logic? If not then should the Snotter not be reinstated?

Just to be clear I am not passing judgement just making an observation about our wonderfully flawed winter climbing ethics from the comfort of my armchair!

 Fellover 19 Jan 2023
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Sod it, I'll bite.

> A couple of answers to the 'why not tool routes in summer' question.

> Firstly the less convincing answer: traffic. If there was ethical carte blanche to tool anything, anytime, we'd be on a slippery slope to a lot of rock climbs being scratched to shit. True, this can be extended to an argument against snowed-up rock climbing in general, but if there's to be a hard line drawn somewhere on the spectrum of pure ice/mixed/icy rock/dry rock then 'not wintry' is as sensible a place as any.

I think that this answer implodes on itself really, for the reasons you suggest. Why is it ok for people to scratch up Savage Slit in the winter but not in the summer? Damage done would presumably be similar per ascent. Is it just that saying it has to be snowed up to be justifiable means that there are fewer scratchy ascents per year, so less damage?

Obviously climbing with axes and crampons in summer would be pretty crap, so the vast majority of people would rather rock climb. However, there are clearly people who want to climb routes like Savage Slit with axes and crampons when conditions are 'marginal' and I'm not sure why that's not ok? If the answer is just that cutting out the marginal ascents reduces the total amount of scratching by a small amount it feels like a pretty weak reason.

> Secondly, forget the ethics for a moment, for the vast majority of routes it would feel totally weird. There are exceptions (like steep things with thin cracks, or roofs where mobile jugs and increased span are more useful than tiny edges), but for most climbs it's simply picking the right equipment for the job: rubber shoes and chalky fingers for dry rock, picks and crampons for frozen slippery rock.

> The second point puts top-spin on the first, because you've gone from people tooling rock when it's the most practical way to climb the route to people tooling rock when it's an impractical way to climb the route.

Yeah I agree that the vast vast majority of people aren't going to want to go and tool routes in the summer, nor would it be easier in most cases. However, going back to my point above about marginal conditions, it's almost always going to be the case that climbing with axes and crampons is easier than hands and rock shoes when a route is at a temperature of 2 degrees, it's windy and there's bits of snow about. Yet people complain about ascents done just below the line of 'in'/'not in', even though in almost all of those cases it will still have been easier to climb with axes rather than hands, or at least certainly more comfortable!

> If the desire to climb things has an intrinsic value to be balanced against the impacts of doing it, which I don't imagine anyone on this forum would argue it doesn't, then drawing a line at climbing in a way that is both harder and more damaging than the conditions allow makes sense.

Yeah I think this is the best argument I've heard for banning drytooling in summer. It doesn't really apply to marginal conditions ascents though, where axe and crampons will be easier than hands and shoes.

I probably shouldn't have brought summer into it atall because obviously people wanting to drytool in summer isn't a thing. The real question I'm trying to get at is why, when it's just above freezing, the rock is wet, with some snowy bits, but largely black, would be horrible to climb with hands and rock shoes, it's unacceptable to climb with axe and crampons, whereas the same route with a bit of a snow dusting on it, or a little layer of rime is suddenly ok?

Edit to add: I'm not really sure where I sit on this and I don't have to worry too much because I don't do much Scottish winter or even much in the alps any more, it's just that of all the various arbitrary and bizarre rules and debates in climbing this one really seems like one of the most ridiculous to me.

Post edited at 12:09
3
 Fellover 19 Jan 2023
In reply to TobyA:

It was Birkett yeah. I'm not sure how many ascents it's had, it just popped into my head because I discussed it with a winter climbing friend who'd done it as a summer route, not sure if they've done it in winter or not. A quick google found at least three ascents...

 Andy Moles 19 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

OK, you've pivoted to asking about marginal/wet conditions rather than dry summer conditions.

I come back to the first point, which I would argue does not, as you say, implode on itself.

Would we agree that it makes sense to draw a line somewhere on what is (not) OK to climb with tools?

If so, where can we draw that line that is as clear as possible and applicable everywhere?

One potential place is my second point - what are the best tools for the job? But this is very fuzzy. What if it's 5 degrees and a bit damp in places? It's going to vary wildly between different routes on different days. It's potentially hard even for the people climbing the route to judge, never mind anyone else. The 'not wintry' line, though imperfect, is much simpler and better defined.

The fact this results in some degree less damage because of fewer tooled ascents could be considered a bonus.

It's arbitrary, yes, but we need a bit of arbitration.

Post edited at 12:43
 Myr 19 Jan 2023
In reply to UKC News:

It is much easier to understand why people get so incensed in Scottish winter climbing ethics debates when you realise that although the ethical framework is presented as being tasked with protecting rare montane flora and the rock, it is also about ensuring a level playing field for competition.

 Fellover 19 Jan 2023
In reply to Andy Moles:

> OK, you've pivoted to asking about marginal/wet conditions rather than dry summer conditions.

Yeah I have, sorry. I know you asked about summer conditions, but I only brought summer conditions up to highlight what I thought was an absurd line to draw. To me it makes sense that if axe/crampon damage is unacceptable in summer, then the same damage should be unacceptable in winter. Clearly though that's not the case in current Scottish ethics, which is the thing (or one of the things) I find confusing. I think your point in the previous post about the damage being unacceptable in summer because there is a less damaging (and more fun) alternative is a pretty good one However, whilst it provides a decent answer to the question of why it's unacceptable in summer it doesn't answer the question for marginal/wet conditions where axe/crampon is better than hand/shoe, but not allowed, which is why I pivoted to marginal/wet conditions.

> I come back to the first point, which I would argue does not, as you say, implode on itself.

> Would we agree that it makes sense to draw a line somewhere on what is (not) OK to climb with tools?

Yes I think it does.

> If so, where can we draw that line that is as clear as possible and applicable everywhere?

Whilst this is a good consideration to have in mind I think there should also be logical backing to the line as well as just clarity.

> One potential place is my second point - what are the best tools for the job? But this is very fuzzy. What if it's 5 degrees and a bit damp in places? It's going to vary wildly between different routes on different days. It's potentially hard even for the people climbing the route to judge, never mind anyone else. The 'not wintry' line, though imperfect, is much simpler and better defined.

I'm not sure the 'not wintry' line is that well defined! As seen from this thread! I'm not convinced that it's a better line to draw than 'best tools for the job' and it seems to have a lot less logical weight behind it.

> The fact this results in some degree less damage because of fewer tooled ascents could be considered a bonus.

Thanks for raising these points, has been helpful for my understanding.

In reply to Fellover:

I noted the other night there are no winter routes on Gimmer in the UKC database - as I suspected, the whole crag is in the BMC "no winter climbing here please" list in the White Guide. I've googled now too. So we don't know but probably there have been no further ascents since the two repeats in 2010?

 Andy Moles 19 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

> I'm not sure the 'not wintry' line is that well defined! As seen from this thread! I'm not convinced that it's a better line to draw than 'best tools for the job' and it seems to have a lot less logical weight behind it.

Well, that's the rub of it.

You're right that it's not that clearly defined, but I'd argue the reason it's better defined than 'tools for the job' is that it relies less on the climbers' assertion and allows others to scrutinise the validity of an ascent more easily. Which sounds a bit authoritarian, but as Myr says above, there is a competitive element to all this, or at least a collective desire to have a reasonably level playing field. And again, there is benefit in setting the bar for tooling higher, in that a bit less rock gets scratched.

Climbing is games. Games have rules. Rules are arbitrary.

(A nice thing about climbing is that you don't have to play by anyone else's rules, in private you can do you like, but if you're caught rule-breaking in public you're going to get booed.)

 Exile 19 Jan 2023
In reply to TobyA:

As a keen Lakes based winter climber who keeps a very interested eye on what is going on locally I'm pretty sure you are right. 

In reply to Fellover:

> The real question I'm trying to get at is why, when it's just above freezing, the rock is wet, with some snowy bits, but largely black, would be horrible to climb with hands and rock shoes, it's unacceptable to climb with axe and crampons.

Is it actually unacceptable or just that it doesn't count as a proper winter ascent? I have, on occasion, done winter routes which have been virtually black. It was good fun, and I went home feeling I hadn't wasted time, effort and money, but I wouldn't go claiming the winter route or the grade or whatever. Does this actually make me a bad person?

On the other hand I have also, on occasion, climbed poorly frozen turf under proper snow cover and definitely "claimed" the winter ascent while accepting that it probably does make me a bad person.

The more I think about it, I suspect the primary argument for the whiteness criterion is, as I think Andy is saying, so that there can be an attempt at an objective judgement from others around or from photos of whether an ascent counts as a winter one or not; it's probably about egos for some and first winter ascent claims for others (and nothing necessarily wrong with that!).

Post edited at 18:00
 Michael Gordon 19 Jan 2023
In reply to Drexciyan:

> I'm not sure anyone has mentioned it but few years back didn't Dave Big Mac make a first ascent of a route called the Snotter on Ben Nevis which was not accepted by the SMC with the reason given that the crux moves accessing the icicle were on black rock? >

It was, actually, accepted. Simon R originally said something like "this is not a Scottish winter route and it will not be recorded as such". Which of course led many (most?) to come to your conclusion above, quite understandably I might add. What he actually meant was it would be recorded, just not with a Scottish winter grade, instead perhaps with an M grade. Which was then changed to it being accepted with the VIII,8 grade as given by MacLeod.

It certainly split the climbing community more than this Lochnagar route which hasn't had any top climbers raise an objection, but I think the consensus was still positive towards it. Guy Robertson wrote a really good article about it at the time on his blog.

 Misha 19 Jan 2023
In reply to Fellover:

Even a light layer of hoar makes a rock based route (or section of route) feel properly wintery and harder. Anyone who suggests that the same section of route in frozen but bare conditions is the same difficulty to climb as in frozen but hoared up or snowed up conditions is kidding themselves. 

In reply to UKC News:

Stepping away from the strange ethical questions for a moment, I have to say I beyond respect anyone with the mental fitness to arrive at a winter crag with no real definite aim for the day and leave having committed to and succeeded on a ground-breaking new ascent, ground-up, in the most adventurous of situations. That is an incredible feat in itself, even before considering the absurd physical difficulties of the climbing.

Good effort Greg

Post edited at 18:13
In reply to UKC News:

Perhaps the most interesting thing about what is really a non-discussion about the ethics of this route is the comparison with the lack of any discussion on here about the ethics of the earlier Stone Bastion ascent which perhaps could be seen to be taking things in a new direction. 

 Lankcroft 21 Jan 2023
In reply to Andy Moles:

> A couple of answers to the 'why not tool routes in summer' question.

> Firstly the less convincing answer: traffic. If there was ethical carte blanche to tool anything, anytime, we'd be on a slippery slope to a lot of rock climbs being scratched to shit.

I think this point is an interesting one, because I have definitely been on summer rock routes which I would describe as 'scratched to shit' by winter ascents (presumably carried out in winter!). Engineer's slabs on great gable is probably the main example of this which springs to mind. The route's still more than climbable of course, but I would argue the level of damage is beyond even the most polished grit classic. This seems, at the very least, like a bit of a shame to me.

I'm not saying people shouldn't climb it in winter, but it does seem odd that we're kind of fine with this just because it's possible (and presumably fun) to do. I mean you CAN climb Inverted V in the pouring rain in hobnails, but this will do way more damage than doing it in rubber in the sun. Having said all that, obviously all climbing ultimately causes some level of damage, and the level we deem acceptable is always going to be a blurred and arbitrary line to some extent.

 Misha 21 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

I suspect a large part of the reason Scottish winter routes are usually climbed ground up is it’s not practical to do anything else. On Stone Bastion it was possible to ‘check out’ the crux top pitch and given previous efforts it made sense to do so. The full ground up ascent is available for those who want to improve on the style. 

1
 65 21 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Perhaps the most interesting thing about what is really a non-discussion about the ethics of this route is the comparison with the lack of any discussion on here about the ethics of the earlier Stone Bastion ascent which perhaps could be seen to be taking things in a new direction. 

Abbing in for inspection and a bit of checking out/practice was done on some hard mixed routes in the past, certainly in the Cairngorms and not without pre-internet forum chatter.

FWIW, this ex-punter/armchair commentator thinks Bring da Ruckus is an awesome bona fide winter route done in proper winter nick up what looks like a proper winter line which happens to have a big roof in it. Lots of people do mixed routes in questionable conditions (I have) and claim a winter ascent but this isn't an example of that.

I can't get my head around the difficulty and think this is an exciting development in Scottish winter climbing. And is that runner c.4m below him his last one before the swing or is there another rope I cannot see with a runner in the roof? I hope the latter.

 Misha 21 Jan 2023
In reply to 65:

Looks like two runners in the roof (there’s a blue/grey rope) and another above his right foot, bit of a runout to get to the roof though. No idea how good the gear was of course but the grade (higher tech grade) and the fact that it was done ground up suggests that the gear is good enough where it matters.

1
In reply to Misha:

> I suspect a large part of the reason Scottish winter routes are usually climbed ground up is it’s not practical to do anything else. 

And not so much to do with it being overwhelmingly the prevailing ethic? 

 Andy Moles 22 Jan 2023
In reply to Lankcroft:

Sure, but I don't think you've read my comment in context. I don't mean to suggest that scratching is not a problem, I only say it's a less convincing reason because the difference between wintry/non-wintry on snowed-up rock is insignificant in that regard (in fact you might scratch more if it's obscured by snow because you'll be less accurate). But if you stipulate that it must be wintry, the total number of ascents will at least be fewer, and there is a bulwark against tools creeping further down the hillsides and onto more good rock routes.

Personally I have a much greater problem with good rock routes being tooled than with black-but-frozen winter-only lines being done, and would quite like it if we had a moratorium on tooling anything with (say) two stars or more in summer, but that's a) not going to happen and b) another topic.

 Misha 22 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

It is the prevailing ethic as well but I think it is an ethic which is driven to a significant extent by practical considerations. A good question to ask is why is it still prevailing. That is more to do with practical considerations around doing big mountain routes in winter than winter ethics being rigid. If winter ethics were rigid, everyone would be up in arms about Bring Da Ruckus.  

6
 Michael Gordon 22 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

> The full ground up ascent is available for those who want to improve on the style. 

Well yes, but that's just a statement of the obvious. And of course stuff has been done in the past involving ab inspection (e.g. The Hurting) or even headpoints (Gresham's line in SCNL). But these ascents were quite a while ago now and it could be argued they helped to move the sport forward to where it is today with grade X onsights.

I'm not criticising as I can understand their reasons after so many attempts, but wouldn't defend the style either.

 Misha 22 Jan 2023
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Both routes are there now for the style to be improved. Stone Bastion onsight, Bring da Rukus in proper winter condition. I know for which route I have a lot more questions whether it was appropriate to climb it on the day.

19
In reply to Robert Durran:

well I suppose Greg popped that cherry with Banana Wall so I suppose it’s fair play now. As Misha said, the ground up onsight still stands for whoever wants it. 

2
 Michael Gordon 22 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

> Both routes are there now for the style to be improved. Stone Bastion onsight,

...which is almost exactly what you said before. No-one is denying the above, but the question might be - is working the crux pitch of new winter routes acceptable? I thought the ground-up ethic for Scottish winter was pretty ubiquitous nowadays.  

"Bring da Rukus in proper winter condition. I know for which route I have a lot more questions whether it was appropriate to climb it on the day."

And you might have to accept you're in the minority on that, or at least that whether a route is in condition is much more down to opinion than whether the ground-up ethic has been compromised or not.

Post edited at 22:15
 Michael Gordon 22 Jan 2023
In reply to Ramon Marin:

> well I suppose Greg popped that cherry with Banana Wall so I suppose it’s fair play now.

You have to distinguish a bit between the two styles. Greg's ascent of Banana Wall wasn't perfect but he didn't work any moves, and re-reading the news report it sounds as though even the ab inspection was of limited use since he couldn't get close enough to the wall to really see the protection possibilities.

 Misha 22 Jan 2023
In reply to Michael Gordon:

A significant minority, yes. Check the likes / dislikes on my first post, as an indication.

My understanding is that on Stone Bastion each climber was lowered down and climbed out on top rope (presumably without placing gear). That’s fairly light touch ‘working it’ by summer standards. Imperfect but not a big deal, as long as they are honest about it.

I suppose my point is that you can do winter climbing in whatever style you want, as long as it’s actually winter climbing. In order to constitute winter climbing, it needs to be wintery (it’s in the name,), as in frozen ice, turf, snow, time or any combination of the above. If it’s bare rock on the crux section and it’s a significant section of the route (not just a couple of moves), to my mind it’s continental mixed rather than winter climbing, even if the rest of the route is conventionally wintery. There’s a thin end of the wedge point here - the more such routes are done, the longer the bare rock sections will become.

I don’t really care at the end of the day but it makes me a bit sad that people do routes in such conditions. There is a lot to be said for patience.

youtube.com/watch?v=w9ogzVyTtcw&

Post edited at 23:31
8
In reply to Misha:

> The full ground up ascent is available for those who want to improve on the style. 

But the full ground up without knowing whether it is even "possible" isn't.

In reply to Misha:

> It is the prevailing ethic as well but I think it is an ethic which is driven to a significant extent by practical considerations. A good question to ask is why is it still prevailing. That is more to do with practical considerations around doing big mountain routes in winter than winter ethics being rigid.

I strongly suspect you are wrong about this. Someone with the determination to do these sort of routes could probably easily check them out from above. But I am really just an interested observer. It would be interesting to hear from those at the cutting edge.

> If winter ethics were rigid, everyone would be up in arms about Bring Da Ruckus.  

I think you are wrong about this too. I don't see any change in the ethics with this route. But again, it would be interesting to hear from those at the cutting edge (not that others' opinions are invalid).

I suppose Stone Bastion just struck me as a potentially significant departure if it turns out not to be a one off. On the other hand the discussion about Greg's route just seems like a predictable UKC storm in a teacup about nothing to me.

Post edited at 07:10
 Michael Gordon 23 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

> My understanding is that on Stone Bastion each climber was lowered down and climbed out on top rope (presumably without placing gear). That’s fairly light touch ‘working it’ by summer standards. Imperfect but not a big deal, as long as they are honest about it.

> I suppose my point is that you can do winter climbing in whatever style you want, as long as it’s actually winter climbing. In order to constitute winter climbing, it needs to be wintery (it’s in the name,), as in frozen ice, turf, snow, time or any combination of the above. If it’s bare rock on the crux section and it’s a significant section of the route (not just a couple of moves), to my mind it’s continental mixed rather than winter climbing, even if the rest of the route is conventionally wintery.>

That's an interesting stance on the two routes, and of course a valid opinion. I'd argue that part of the reason winter routes are meant to be wintry is to help preserve some of the adventure aspect of the game. And many see Greg's ascent as being very much wintry, but we're just restating opinions on that one so not a lot to be gained from it. But if I was asked which route the adventure, the element of uncertainty, had been significantly removed from, I know which route I'd pick. Not removed entirely of course, since they still had to go back and put it all together without falling off. But significantly.

 IceBun 23 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

I'm not sure I would be using likes and dislikes here as an indication of the wider ethics of Scottish Winter Climbing. 

On the Stone Bastion front Nick Bullock puts it well here http://nickbullock-climber.co.uk/ He seems to see it as slightly more than your "no big deal".

Speaking to protagonists over the years, albeit mainly Aberdeen base ones, on sight/ground up appears to be the overwhelmingly prevalent style and not down to the complexities of top down inspection. I've never had the sense that the barrier was top down access. Of course there are blurry lines in this as summer ascents can reveal telling detail, particularly if done for that purpose. Clearly this wouldn't be an option on all routes.

As for conditions, it is one of those judgement calls and unless you are there, in the thick of it and with the full knowledge of conditions, the cliff and the route we are all just guessing. I like to work on the basis of trust and that people know the right thing and act accordingly.

 Misha 23 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

Nor is that kind of ascent available after the FWA. Not a big deal, in my opinion. 

1
 Misha 23 Jan 2023
In reply to IceBun:

Good point re prior summer ascents. I’m guessing this is considered ok. Pre climbing a pitch in winter is a step up from that but it’s not a huge one. Point is, it’s no longer done onsight.

I don’t need to have been there to judge the conditions in this case. I can see from a couple of photos that the crux overhang was bare. I don’t think anyone can argue with that. The debate is whether this was ok to winter climb or not.

10
 Misha 23 Jan 2023
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Less adventurous is a fair point. But by the same token almost all routes at E7 and above aren’t adventurous. 

4
 IceBun 23 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha: I wouldn’t reckon it was ok if it was a specific gear and tool placement recce. And, any summer ascent would help.

And my point was the folk that were there would know whether to it was ok to winter climb it or not. And did 👍.

Post edited at 22:47
 Fergal 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

Can't really see what your point is, how ever eloquently you put it across, you are talking complete rubbish in regards Da Ruckus even the most jaded of has been winter climbers can see it's in full winter condition, the fact that the underside of the roof is a  shade of black is purely semantics.

 Gregg has been at the forefront of cutting edge scottish winter ascents for years his style and ethics impeccable, of all the people to call out in regards to winter conditions!, this is not a debate but pure pish you are talking.

1
 Michael Gordon 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

> Less adventurous is a fair point. But by the same token almost all routes at E7 and above aren’t adventurous. 

Did you read Nick's article? He argues we shouldn't justify some winter ascents on the basis of the tactics often employed in summer. They are two completely different beasts, and the ground-up Scottish winter ethic is special and should be preserved.

1
 Michael Gordon 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

> Nor is that kind of ascent available after the FWA. Not a big deal, in my opinion. 

I'd have thought that at or near the cutting edge, knowing whether something was possible or not, was a very big deal. And without pre-inspection, the first time anyone would know is when they were succesful, or perhaps when falling off after getting through the hard moves. That's got to be a special feeling.

 Fellover 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Misha:

I think it depends on how snowed up right? I have pretty limited experience, I've only done one Scottish route with a section of essentially tooling through a bit of snow, but in that bit of the route the snow made little difference tbh, because it was only a light covering. Obviously a heavy covering is different.

2
 Fellover 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Climbing is games. Games have rules. Rules are arbitrary.

Yeah very true. However, arbitrary rules can seem sensible or ridiculous! I'm spending a lot of my time this week playing a board game called Journeys in Middle-Earth (very good, would highly recommend and a lot more comfortable than winter climbing, though does take many times longer than a winter route), it's full of arbitrary rules and whilst most I think make sense, there are a few I think are ridiculous.

> (A nice thing about climbing is that you don't have to play by anyone else's rules, in private you can do you like, but if you're caught rule-breaking in public you're going to get booed.)

Yeah, but I'm largely a boring rule follower, so I like it when I think the rules make sense. Which in this case I'm not convinced they do, but your posts have gone some way towards persuading me they're not quite as ridiculous as I initially thought

In reply to Misha:

> Nor is that kind of ascent available after the FWA.

Yes, you could argue that this unique experience has been denied to anyone. I think that is the whole point.

 Fellover 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Is it actually unacceptable or just that it doesn't count as a proper winter ascent? I have, on occasion, done winter routes which have been virtually black. It was good fun, and I went home feeling I hadn't wasted time, effort and money, but I wouldn't go claiming the winter route or the grade or whatever. Does this actually make me a bad person? 

I meant unacceptable in the sense that most on here (as far as I can tell) would say that climbing a route that wasn't mostly white with axes/crampons was unnaceptable, but yeah that's not very rigorously defined. I don't think it makes you a bad person, because as far as I can tell you wouldn't have caused any more damage than doing it in 'full' winter conditions.

> On the other hand I have also, on occasion, climbed poorly frozen turf under proper snow cover and definitely "claimed" the winter ascent while accepting that it probably does make me a bad person.

Yeah, agreed. This bit of the 'rules' makes sense to me.

> The more I think about it, I suspect the primary argument for the whiteness criterion is, as I think Andy is saying, so that there can be an attempt at an objective judgement from others around or from photos of whether an ascent counts as a winter one or not; it's probably about egos for some and first winter ascent claims for others (and nothing necessarily wrong with that!).

I think that is probably the case. It's a standard which can be judged by people who weren't there based on photographic evidence. Which in some ways is sensible, these days top boulderers and sport and maybe to a lesser extent trad climbers pretty much have to provide video evidence for their hardest stuff or people are suspicious about it.

I'm still not convinced it's the right standard to apply for whether something is 'in' or not though.

 Fellover 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> Did you read Nick's article? He argues we shouldn't justify some winter ascents on the basis of the tactics often employed in summer. They are two completely different beasts,

I'm a bit reticent to get into another debate... But surely the idea that summer climbing and winter climbing are "two completely different beasts" is complete rubbish. Sure, there are differences, but there are an awful lot of similarities as well! Sharing a general aim to move upwards on a mountainous sort of feature, both involve placing gear, both involve leading and seconding, the terminology 'ground up' has the same meaning for both, I've hand jammed on both summer and winter routes etc. There must be hundreds of similarities.

> and the ground-up Scottish winter ethic is special and should be preserved.

This is a point that can stand on it's own I think, without the above point. I personally like the fact that Scottish winter has a prevailing ground up ethic, I wish that ethic still prevailed in UK trad in general, but that's just because I personally think it's cool. I can see why others would disagree.

 petemacpherson 24 Jan 2023
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I strongly suspect you are wrong about this. Someone with the determination to do these sort of routes could probably easily check them out from above. But I am really just an interested observer. It would be interesting to hear from those at the cutting edge.

> I think you are wrong about this too. I don't see any change in the ethics with this route. But again, it would be interesting to hear from those at the cutting edge (not that others' opinions are invalid).

> I suppose Stone Bastion just struck me as a potentially significant departure if it turns out not to be a one off. On the other hand the discussion about Greg's route just seems like a predictable UKC storm in a teacup about nothing to me.

I don’t winter climb anymore but when I did it did not occur to me ever to pre- inspect/ practice. Nothing to do with practicality as Mish suggests and everything to do with the fact that it massively diminishes the pure experience of onsighting. Blowing the onsight left a bad enough taste in my mouth never mind pre-inspection. There are several routes that I failed on more than once and spent massive time and commitment on that remain unclimbed but that’s fine as someone at some stage who is better than me will do them.  If I had to pre-practiced them they would be ruined In my mind. The effort, commitment, training , risk, headspace etc to do a route in the shelterstone in winter is massive, these boys certainly have skills, it’s just a pity they didn’t continue to plug away ground up. 

The style that Greg and Guy adopt In winter is second to none. 

 Drexciyan 24 Jan 2023
In reply to petemacpherson:

Interesting how the debate has shifted. I don't really have an opinion on the 'is the route white enough' debate but definitely agree that the ground up ethic is special and should be preserved - hence I am voicing this opinion


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