Last Friday Nick Bullock and Tim Neill headed up to the North West of Scotland to climb Bruised Violet, (VIII,8) on Beinn Eighe, Torridon. However, Nick failed to follow the complex topo and instead charged straight up some wild and unclimbed territory, in the process making the first ascent of Creme de Violette, at IX,9.
Ian Parnell first climbed Bruised Violet with Andy Turner in 2009, with the line having seen attempts from the likes of Andy Nisbet, Brian Davison and Martin Moran, including four attempts from Ian. (You can read more on the first ascent in 2009 in the UKC News Report and on Ian's blog.)
Nick headed in on Friday with Tim Neill having been inspired by the pictures of Ian and Andy on Bruised Violet's first ascent in Alpinist magazine, and upon climbing what he thought was the route Nick claimed it to be one of the best winter routes he had ever done. Commenting on his blog, Nick said:
"'Ian must have been going well at the time of climbing Bruised Violet,' I said to Tim and continued, 'I would have graded it 9 for technical climbing and maybe IX for the overall grade.' I continued, that I thought the route we had just climbed was better than Blood Sweat and Frozen Tears, the four star outing to the left. Don’t get me wrong, I think BS&FT is a great route, I just thought this route was better and harder and more sustained."
After phone calls with both Ian and Tim and detailed study of the topo and description, Nick realised he had in fact gone off-route and climbed a new and very hard new route. On his blog, Nick described the climbing on the second pitch;
"Run-out – a steep groove above a roof, about 15 to 20 feet above a bulldog placed in ice while tentatively pulling one tooth pick placements and balancing on tiny footholds focuses the mind. And the climbing, it just kept coming, which was following a wide and bulging crack line."
Nick supplied a description of the route for any keen, would-be suitors of the route (Or maybe just so that no-one who goes to try Bruised Violet makes the same mistake!):
Creme de Violette, IX,9. West Central Wall, Beinn Eighe. F.A. Nick Bullock and Tim Neill, 7/2/2014
1. 30m. Chop Suey pitch 1
2. 40m. Climb cracks up the right wall of the groove (as for Chop Suey) to the upper girdle ledge then pull through the roof and follow the committing groove, past in-situ pecker on Bruised Violet. Where Bruised Violet goes hard right, continue direct until beneath a roof. Carefully pull right around the roof and climb the even more committing groove above (without thinking about where the last piece of gear was or even what the last piece of gear was). At the top of the groove continue direct following the wide bulging crack line.
3. 30m. Climb direct to beneath an overhanging corner with a thin crack. Pull into the corner and climb it to the top to a rest and a wide crack. Climb a few moves right before continuing direct via small overhangs to the top.