The Ticklist: #20 Scottish winter season kicks off and hard European ascents

© Iain Small

The Scottish winter season kicks off, while bouldering conditions turn prime in Europe...

New Ben Nevis Winter Line by Dave MacLeod and Iain Small

Dave MacLeod and Iain Small established a new three-pitch VIII, 8 called Nevermore on Number Five Gully Buttress on Ben Nevis. The line follows and obvious corner and bulging roof which - somewhat remarkably - had never been climbed before in summer or winter. Hungry ravens provided the biggest challenge of the day:

'The Nevis ravens must be hungry after a quiet autumn with no tourists about on the mountain. They had a good go at our rucksacks. Either they couldn't figure out the BD cinch on my sack, or they don't like eggs. But they unzipped Iain's bag and scarfed his cheese sandwich and flapjack. Other friends on the hill that day had their pieces confiscated as well.'

New Scottish Winter Routes for Callum Johnson and Tim Miller

Callum Johnson and Tim Miller have made the most of early-season conditions in the north-west of Scotland by climbing two new VIII 8 routes. The first on An Teallach was named The Flying Fox which starts up the bold The Silver Fox (VII 8) before breaking right after 25m and following a groove and left-facing corner. Callum described his ascent:

'The weather was perfect, with not a breath of wind, and superb views. I had wanted to climb on this impressive wall after descending Hayfork Gully a couple of years ago. Seeing Greg and Guy's route last season reminded me of it again. And then, after reading Martin Moran's comments after the first ascent of The Wailing Wall on, I thought it would be a good early season option. Tim was easily convinced.'

Despite their optimism, conditions were not as good as they had hope and the snow had not stuck to the steeper sections as well as anticipated, but they did find the line in relatively decent winter condition.

'Tim then led the vertical corner – steep and well protected but with some tiny footholds, then the technical wall above. I led the third pitch, up a wide steepening groove to below a roof before stepping right and climbing balancey, easier angled narrow grooves. We topped out onto the ridge in the fading light – windless, with the stars starting to appear – Scottish winter at its best!'

The second route was on Beinn Eighe. The pair walked in with an open mind, unsure of what would be in condition. Callum describes the weather as 'fairly full-on' as there was a strong north-easterly wind and consequently lots of snow being blown around.

They ended up on the far-right of the Eastern Ramparts. Callum described the route:

'The route was generally fairly typical Beinn Eighe style, steep positive hooking with good gear – we were both shouting about how much fun it is to climb!

'Climbing two new routes at grade VIII or above on consecutive days is a rarity, they were definitely memorable days. It is no surprise that I am still on a high!'

Fingers crossed the winter season continues in the same vein!

Jonathan Flor ticks his hardest route yet

24-year-old Spanish climber Jonathan Flor has climbed Adam Ondra's La Planta de Shiva (9b) at Villanueva del Rosario. He has climbed the grade once before in 2019 with an ascent of Ali Hulk Extension Total Sit Start in the Ali Baba Cave of Rodellar. He believes that La Planta de Shiva is his hardest yet and spent ten weeks working on the route. Writing on his Instagram, he said:

'It has been a hard process, the route imposed a lot on me from the first moment, many days of bad weather... But after that uncertainty that this made me feel, I have finally been able to do it!'

Tiba Vroom ticks Riverbed 8B

21-year-old Dutch boulderer Tiba Vroom has ticked her first 8B with an ascent of the Magic Wood classic Riverbed. Tiba has competed in Boulder World Cups but only recently ticked her first 8A outdoors in July. In the past few months, she has spent a considerable amount of time in Magic Wood, where she ticked a handful of hard boulders between 8A-8B, including Sofa Surfer 8A+, Unendliche Geschichte II 8A, Super Supernova 8A and Nothing Changes 8A.

Nicolai Užnik ticks Bügeleisen Sit Start

20-year-old Austrian climber Nicolai Užnik has made the fourth ascent of Nalle Hukkataival's Bügeleisen Sit Start (Font 8C) in Maltatal, Austria. Užnik is an up and coming competition climber who is starting to make a name for himself and after winning the Austrian Bouldering Championship in September (no mean feat considering who he was up against), we'll be hearing a lot more from him in the future!

Užnik had previously climbed five Font 8B+ problems and Bügeleisen Sit Start was his first Font 8C. Watch the uncut footage from mellow below:

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Calum Johnson is a Scottish Winter climber with a penchant for first ascents.

Callum's Athlete Page 5 posts

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11 Dec, 2020

Scottish winter season kicks off.....for Scots Only.......

12 Dec, 2020

Pretty depressing that the Lakes are the current best hope of anything this winter.

12 Dec, 2020

Don't worry the grades are harder in the lakes...😉

13 Dec, 2020

Missed off Tim and Jamie's ascent of Metamorphosis on the Ben.

13 Dec, 2020

If you dig deeper they are are on a link.

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