Lost Arrow Winter Variation X 10 by Boswell & Robertson

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.

Greg on the 'Super Skinny' pitch., 94 kb
Greg on the 'Super Skinny' pitch.
© Guy Robertson

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.'

Guy Robertson seconds on Lost Arrow Winter Variation X/10
© Greg Boswell

He added:

'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 on the 'Stevie Wonder' pitch.
© Greg Boswell

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...

Greg is sponsored by: Deuter, Grivel, Leki, Rab, Edelweiss,Scarpa and Suunto.

Guy is sponsored by: Outdoor Research, Scarpa, Grivel and Edelweiss.

Forums (45 comments)

I think it's worth pointing out that this has never been a widely adhered-to ethic in Scottish winter climbing. Think of early achievements like Tower Ridge or NE Buttress, or the likes of Tower Face of the Comb or...
I’m sorry if I misunderstood but you wrote: “I think the relentless (and joyful) drive for new routes inevitably ends with "if it's rimed it's ok", even if it's more or less dry tooling.” So to me it...
Ethics questions should always be borne in mind; it just seems strange that they've been brought up in relation to this particular route. If it was a climb done on black rock, in unfrozen conditions, or even involved...
Been reading through the thread and intrigued, and I also acknowledge he achievements of some of the posters, or "expert witnesses". So I pondered if over time Scottish Winter ethics will dilute or even shift...
If you are going to climb rock coated in rime/snow/ice, it is more natural and less contrived to climb it with pointy bits of metal than with rubber boots and hands. That is a separate debate. Do you think Savage...
So climbing with axes and crampons is natural and uncontrived? A bit like scuba diving maybe. People shouldn't climb routes if they're going to get scratched horribly, that depends on the rock type mainly. And they...

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