The formidable axe-wielding duo Greg Boswell and Guy Robertson have made a promising start to their 2017/18 Scottish winter campaign with a hard first ascent on Church Door Buttress, Bidean nam Bian. As the name suggests, Lost Arrow Winter Variation (X 10) is an interpretation of the summer E3 Lost Arrow, with a significant amount of new ground involved in the 5-pitch line.
The pair initially attempted the route last week, but were stopped in their tracks due to slow progress and a lack of daylight. Returning on Monday with an earlier start in the bag, the highly sustained climbing resulted in the climbers finishing at 6pm in darkness.
Despite it still being relatively early in the Scottish winter season, Greg blew the cobwebs away on the crux second pitch with a bold and uncertain lead. Guy told UKC:
'Greg's lead of the second pitch was probably the crux. It takes a strong mind to forge into that kind of thin, blank and virgin terrain in full winter conditions. He did a great job of getting back in the saddle after our first attempt ran out of light halfway up.'
'So really I had no choice but to return his favour by leading the final pitch as darkness enveloped us (well, that and the fact he was on a hanging belay on his ice axes...)'
Greg summed up the difficulty and quality of their route in a Facebook post:
'We agreed, once we had topped out, that it was one of the most sustained routes we had done in Scotland, for the amount of hard pitches and climbing that was involved in the route was crazy! It didn't let up from the base to the top, it really was a special day! It will be very hard to beat that experience this winter, but we'll definitely give it a good go.'
Guy told UKC:
'Amazing route, I didn't expect such an icy mixed line up on that cliff. We're both in agreement it's probably the hardest route we've done together to date. We'll soon sort that out though!'
Greg and Guy have established a number of difficult Scottish winter lines together over the years, notably Range War (X 10) in Creagh an Dubh Loch (UKC news report) and The Greatest Show on Earth (X 10) on Cul Mor (UKC news report), both in 2015.
After the disappointment of the 2016/17 Scottish winter period, the 2017/18 season is starting to look considerably healthier and rumour has it that bigger projects are in the pipeline for Greg...