Last week saw a visit to Scotland by some of the World's more accomplished winter climbers. German climber Ines Papert is perhaps best known as four time ice climbing world champion but she is also a highly accomplished rock climber having climbed the Pellissier route on the Cima Grande, an 8b big wall in the Dolomites.
Joining her were the Quebec climbers Audrey Gariepy and Mathieu Audibert. The pair's low key laid back approach belies their abilities, both have led M10s back home, and Audrey also climbs 8a+ on the rock.
Despite Ines missing the first weekend due to her flight being snow blocked in Munich, the team were lucky to time their trip with some of the best Scottish winter conditions of recent years.
During their week in the UK the trio managed to take in many classics in the Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and the North West but the highlight was undoubtably Ines's leads of two Scottish grade VIIIs, likely the first by a woman.
First up was Unicorn, the Glen Coe classic felt by many to be a benchmark for VIII,8. Climbing with Iain Small, Ines led the middle pitch up the main cornerline commenting that she felt that it was the hardest of the routes climbed during her visit.
Two days later the team joined up with Simon Yearsley to explore the North West. Simon kindly donated campervan accomodation from his company www.bigtreecampervans.com. Whilst Audrey and Matt joined Simon for an ascent of the Central Buttress of Beinn Eighe, Ines teamed up with Ian Parnell for an ascent of Blood, Sweat and Frozen Tears another VIII,8 which is reknowned for its steepness.
Ines was also desperate to do a new route and with Ian Parnell headed up Beinn Eighe where Ines spied a neat looking line just left of Far East Gully, which had a well "whited" lower section although a little leaner up high. Never the less it proved a fun 2 pitch route perhaps useful for parties who fail early on the Far East wall mega-projects. They called it Little Nipper unless Ines comes up with a better name.
Ines, who has climbed in most countries that have winter climbing felt Unicorn and Blood, Sweat.... were amongst the best routes she has ever climbed and is already planning a return visit next year "to climb something harder."
Stirling Bridge VI,7 on Aonach Mor
Unicorn VIII,8 in Glen Coe
Blood Sweat and Frozen Tears VIII,8 on Beinn Eighe
Little Nipper VI,8 a new route on Beinn Eighe
North East Buttress IV,5 on Ben Nevis
Audrey Gariepy & Mathieu Audibert
Fall Out Corner VI,7 in the Cairngorms
Smiths Gully VI,5 on Creag Meagaidh
Central Buttress VII,7 in Glen Coe
Central Buttress VI,7 on Beinn Eighe
Poachers Fall V,5 on Liathach
Minus Three Gully VI,6 on Ben Nevis
Beinn Eighe Far East Wall
First ascent: Ian Parnell, Ines Papert 19th February 2010
1. 30m Boldly climb the shallow right facing groove 5m left of Far East Gully to ledges and then the steep crack to belay below a prominent corner with a crack in its left wall.
2. 30m Climb the corner and then cracks trending slightly left to easier ground to reach the East Ridge of Beinn Eighe.
Ian Parnell is sponsored by Arc'teryx
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