Tim and Jamie largely followed the same line as the summer version of the route (Stone Bastion (E4 6a)), but swapped out the first two slab pitches of the summer route for the first two pitches of The Needle (VIII 8). Throughout the several attempts they had on Stone Bastion, both Tim and Jamie led each of the pitches, except for the final crux pitch.
Tim shared more details with us earlier today:
'On Monday we finally climbed the first winter ascent of Stone Bastion. This came after three previous attempts over this and the previous winter season'.
'Typically we would wake up around 3am, meet at the car park at 5am, start climbing at 8am and be finished climbing 12 or 13 hours later. We'd be back at the car at 11pm, and home after midnight. One night we got stuck in a blizzard on the plateau, and didn't get home till about 2 or 3am. So, a full 24hr day'.
'The challenge of the route is that the crux is at the very top, and we would always arrive at it in the dark and feeling pretty spent. On the third occasion, we decided to walk round to the top and abseil in to climb the top pitch in isolation to make sure it was actually possible before we tried from the bottom again. It turned it it was possible but just very hard. Finally, on Monday, we managed to climb the whole route from bottom to top'.
'During the process we came across many obstacle and epics, these include a van going into a ditch, a broken ice axe, a lost phone, a van being towed away, later a wheel falling off a van, lots of lost gear, crossing the cairngorm plateau in a blizzard, another dropped axe, and head torches running out of battery on the crux'.
'In the end we graded it X 10 and as always would love for someone to go and repeat it to tell us what they think'.
In the next few weeks Tim will be writing up the full account of these mishaps, as well as his and Jamie's process - and eventual success - on Stone Bastion. Keep an eye out for the full story on UKC soon.