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BMC International Winter Meet 2016 Report

© Martin McKenna - UKC

The annual BMC International Winter Meet based from Glenmore Lodge was held last week bringing roughly 40 climbers from over 25 countries together with winter climbers from around the UK. This year climbers came from countries such as Switzerland, Canada, South Africa, Israel and Japan, going to show the international significance Scottish winter climbing now enjoys.

The meet aims to attract all levels of experience and ability, from newcomer winter climbers to top end athletes. During the week each visitor is paired up with a host for the first part of the week then a new host for the second part. In previous years these teams have often put up hard new routes or gone on to do significant repeats.

Luka Strazar seconding Uisdean Hawthorn with Ian Parnell below  © Uisdean Hawthorn
Luka Strazar seconding Uisdean Hawthorn with Ian Parnell below
© Uisdean Hawthorn

With the notoriously fickle conditions Scotland receives, planning an event like this to coincide with good weather and good conditions is an impossibility and unfortunately this year the weather was not the best. On the run-up to the event a period of rapid thaw stripping most of the crags that had seen good conditions during the previous few weeks. Not wanting to be beaten by the warm weather people went out rock climbing or dry tooling during the first few days.

Heads down and goggles on.  © Neil Adams
Heads down and goggles on.
© Neil Adams

By Wednesday colder conditions were returning giving everyone the first opportunity to get out in the hills and for many their first experiences of Scottish winter climbing. Teams visited Torridon, Ben Nevis, The Northern Corries and some other locations in what was often very challenging conditions. There were many failures due to the stormy weather and conditions but a number of climbers managed some impressive ascents nonetheless.

Tom Livingstone and Ian Welsted (Canada) climbed The Gathering in very strong winds. Dave Almond and Luka Strazar (Slovenia) the next day climbed Never Mind (Winter) when 120mph wind gusts were recorded on the summit of Cairn Gorm.

Over on The Ben, in pretty awful conditions, Raphael Slawinski (Canada) made an ascent of The Secret opting to climb the route in 1 pitch. The route has had at least 3 ascents this year using this approach.

Raphael Slawinski on The Vagrant  © Uisdean Hawthorn
Raphael Slawinski on The Vagrant
© Uisdean Hawthorn

Juha Sillanpaa from Finland enjoying Tower Ridge with Neil Adams on the only clear weather day of the meet.  © Neil Adams
Juha Sillanpaa from Finland enjoying Tower Ridge with Neil Adams on the only clear weather day of the meet.
© Neil Adams

Each night there were fascinating talks where climbers shared stories of what they have been getting up to all over the world. These included:

  • Simon Richardson: A presentation for the international guests, an intro to Scottish winter climbing
  • Uisdean Hawthorn (UK) on his climbing
  • Raphael Slawinski & Ian Welsted (Canada) on Canadian winter climbing
  • Prerna Dangi (India) climbing in India
  • Erik Eisele (USA) on climbing in New Hamshire
  • Nuno Goncalves (Portugal) winter climbing in Portugal
  • George Voutiropoulos (Greece) winter climbing in Greece

The meet regularly cultivates many friendships that last well beyond the week itself. All in all the event was a huge success thanks in large part to Becky McGovern and Nick Colton from the BMC for organising the meet and Glenmore Lodge for providing the accommodation during the event.

Pints being enjoyed at the end of the meet. Andy recounting his haul of routes from the week.  © Masa Sakano
Pints being enjoyed at the end of the meet. Andy recounting his haul of routes from the week.
© Masa Sakano


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4 Feb, 2016
Nice article Martin
4 Feb, 2016
Well summarised, Martin! I believe all the guests have had a good taste of "Scottish conditions"… Masa
5 Feb, 2016
Thanks guys. Nice to talk to you at the meet. Masa, I'll catch you up for a winter route this season maybe! Another big ice route on The Ben would be great :)
11 Feb, 2016
Good stuff - was a good event despite the weather challenges!
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