The Best Winter for a Decade

The ‘Big Freeze’ this winter was brilliant for one section of the public – Winter Climbers. I’ve done 5 winter climbing trips year, starting in the Lakes, heading to Glen Coe for new year, North Wales for a weekend and recently two weekends in Scotland.

The winter started with a winter ascent of Bowfell Buttress (V) which was third time lucky for me (having been thwarted by conditions and crowds in the past) and it turned out to be an excellent sustained, but no-where too difficult climb which I would recommend to all. The new years trip started with Beinn Udlaidh a lower level crag in the Southern Highlands that holds loads of ice in a good cold snap, which we did three climbs on. New years day saw an abortive attempt at the Blue Riband then changing plans for the traverse of the Aonach Eagach. Following that I did a solo day on Stob Coire nam Beith and finally a day on Creag Coire an Dotaidh.

On Beinn Udlaidh

The next weekend we headed over to Snowdonia; Saturday climbing on Clogwyn Du’r Arddu making a winter ascent of Jubilee Climb (V) which was great fun. Sunday I was feeling ill, yet we headed to Ogwen to try the Devil’s Appendix however with other teams on it, so we climbed 3 nice IV & V’s instead. After couple of weekends where other things got in the way I headed up to Scotland again where day one we climb on Beinn an Dothaidh, where we climbed Pas De Deux (V), The Skraeling (IV) and Taxus (III) which was a really fun day. The Sunday was spent on Creag Meagaidh where we had a good day climbing Missed the Post (V) and Diadem (V), although we had forgotten what a slog the walk out feels!

On the top pitch of Eagle Ridge

Finally last weekend was spent in the Cairngorms, climbing on Lochnagar on Saturday and Creag an Dubh Loch on Sunday. On Lochnagar we started with Polyphemus Gully (V) that had wonderful ice on the first hard pitch, however the top pitch was mainly incredible thick hoarfrost meaning I had a very run out scary lead. For the second route of the day we headed for Eagle Ridge (VI) as it had footprints on, it turned out to be an excellent route with spaced gear and lots of neve on. Feeling please with ourselves after our first day we went into Creag an Dubh Loch on Sunday because our friends had climbed Labyrinth Direct on the Saturday; however all the ice was melting fast, so we ran up Hanging Garden Route (V), then returned to the car early. The conditions this winter have been awesome and they look set to stay that way for a while yet still! This really is the best winter (for winter climbing) I have known.

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