Swiftly following on from their first winter ascent of The Nihilist, IX 9, earlier this month, Greg Boswell and Guy Robertson have made yet another top-end first ascent, this time with Vortex, X 10, on Cul Mor.
In what Greg has since described as a 'Love/Hate kind of day', with 'a whirlwind of emotions, spindrift, and impeccable climbing', Greg and Guy initially headed to Cul Mor in an attempt to seek out exciting new lines and refuge from the powerful winds that had been forecast.
Whilst they succeeded in finding a new route - a four pitch battle that 'breaches the main roof system cutting its way across th[e] magnificent wall' on Cul Mor - Greg's account of the ascent on instagram, and the footage he shared alongside it, shows that their attempt to escape the weather at the same time didn't quite work out:
'Thankfully we managed to open our second big route together... Unfortunately, the wind and spindrift were still very much present, but that just added to the character of the route and the day. The climbing is always harder than it looks in this coire, and it was one of those days where you have to think twice about whether it's worth committing to the severity of what you are about to get involved in. Thankfully we made it through and it turned out to be yet another unforgettable day in the NW of Scotland'.
Having taken a moment to recover from the ascent, Greg shared further details on the route and the challenges it posed:
'When Guy started up the second pitch of our new route Vortex, I knew it was going to be a battle. There were signs that people had bailed off the pitch in the past, and the climbing up to the roof looked hard! Above the roof… who knew! After an impressive fight and an all out charge, Guy's attempt ended with a sizeable fall where his mediocre protection partially ripped and very nearly fully dislodged from the crag… Gulp!'
'He proceeded to ask if I wanted a go. "Not really" was my reply! But we both knew I was going to have a look. Guy removed the now useless gear, so I could try and find a safer placement and we swapped ends'.
'The butterflies in my stomach were making me feel sick! Not only that, but every time I looked up I got bombarded by a wave of icy spindrift. It was hard to get in the right headspace for the inevitable fight I knew I was about to engage in. After what seemed like an age of sketchy feet, horrifically bad pick placements, and the overwhelming feeling that I could be ejected from the crag any second, I eventually found myself 10m above my last shitty runner and on terrain where I could once again relax. I let out a woop and continued to finish the pitch'.
'The route wasn't over here though, we still had two big and very involved pitches of hard climbing to go to take us into the night and eventually onto the easy ground and on to finish the route'.
'What a ride! There was more than one occasion where we both wanted to run away. Either the hard climbing taking it's toll on our minds, or the icy winter storm slamming us whenever we thought we could relax! But these are the ingredients that make the days that we remember the most!'
With two bold new routes in the first couple of weeks of the winter season, keep an eye on Greg and Guy's social media accounts for more 'character building' winter action.
Well done to Guy and Greg. Vortex is the most impressive new winter route I’ve heard of in a long time. To onsight that route on that amazing crag in those conditions is utterly amazing.