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BMC Scottish Winter International Meet January 2014

High Sports Ambassador - Adam Booth & Staff member - Angus Kille head off to the Cairngorms & Glencoe for some exceptional ice....

The week before last I had the great privilege of hosting on the BMC winter international meet. This is an event organized every couple of years by the British Mountaineering Council, where foreign guests come from all over the globe come to sample Scottish Winter Climbing, some of the best winter climbing in the world! They are paired up with hosts from the UK who take them out and show them all the best places.

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I was first paired up with Gustav, from Sweden, and after that Martyn from Slovenia. Both were great guys, and amazing climbers! Not only that, Martyn had me begging for mercy on the walk-ins! He really wasn’t messing around.

 

Before the week started I headed out with Highsports’ very own Angus Kille. Unfortunately the weather was terrible, but Angus still managed a great lead on the classic Invernookie as well as  a bit of bouldering with ice tools down in the corrie (in hurricane force winds!).

Angus leading Invernookie, his first winter route.

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Once the week was underway the weather unfortunately didn’t improve much. Gustav and I decided to head to Lurcher’s Crag, being one of the only safe crags in terms of avalanche conditions. We put up a new route on one of the buttresses, probably not worth seeking out, but not bad considering the terrible weather we were experiencing.

Gustav on the first pitch of our new route.

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Gustav on the final pitch of our route.

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The next day we headed to Glencoe and climbed the classic ‘Central Grooves’ in Stob Corie Nan Lochan. This is a true classic, and more than made up for the terrible weather we’d had over the previous few days. The mixed climbing was exceptional, with only one scary bit on the second pitch having to pull onto a snowed up ledge several meters above the last runner. I banged in three bulldogs next to me before committing to the awkward rock-over, but they were all only psychological pieces!

Central Grooves – sheer brilliance!

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Once paired up with Martyn it was time to head to the North West to try and escape the gales and heavy snow. Our first trip up there got us to Beinn Eighe, and it didn’t disappoint. The conditions were mint! After being beaten to our intended route (Central Buttress), we ended up on a new route on the West Buttress, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise… 4 amazing pitches of virgin mixed climbing lead us right to the foot of the final two pitches of the ‘Directissima’. We could see the huge flake and protruding block above us that the guidebook mentioned, and we new we had to try and climb it! What an incredible pitch! One of the best days winter climbing I’ve had, and then we topped out on Beinn Eighe whilst the sun set over Liatach.

Myself aiming for the protruding block at the top of the Directissima.

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Sunset over Liatach.

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After a rest day we headed to Beinn Bhan for our final day of climbing. We got on the rarely climbed classic Fowler route, Great Overhanging Gully. This is the most physical winter route I’ve ever climbed. A severely steep gully filled with huge chock-stones, which all had to be passed with overhanging 3D climbing, as the route name suggests! By the final chock-stone I was completely spent! What a great route!

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but this gully is seriously overhanging!

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I would like to thank my two guests Gustav and Martyn for being great partners. I hope to climb with them both again. Thanks also to Becky and Nick at the BMC for organizing a great week.


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