The land where no local or visiting climber will budge on bolts, the hardware-free walls offer hair raising belays, pounding spin-drift and edge-of-your-seat run outs. Scotland is the land of the hardcore climber. 

“It’s not at all about gymnastic grades, or safety, but rising to the challenge, when you’re ready.”

Canadian Jon Walsh, who recently returned from his first trip to Scotland said, “You guys should check out Scotland. I’ve not seen a single bolt over the my week trip, nor have I heard of one anywhere in the highlands. The equivalent to multi-pitch classics in the Rockies, such as Kahl Wall on Yamnuska, on famous venues like Ben Nevis often have no fixed gear, yet see hundreds of ascents. I’ts not at all about gymnastic grades, or safety, but rising to the challenge, when you’re ready.”

The 2013/14 season has been full of first ascents, far more than anywhere in Canada. Perhaps the weather is the driving force or maybe a new-found psych among locals.

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The British Mountain Club (BMC) had its annual festival in late January. From Canada, Jon Walsh and Michelle Kadatz climbed a number of new pitches and made a few hard repeats, for details read Gripped’s story. The months leading up to the BMC festival, locals established a handful of cutting-edge new lines, details here.

“Towering in gallant fame, Scotland my mountain hame, High may your proud standards gloriously wave, Land of my high endeavour, Land of the shining river, Land of my heart for ever, Scotland the brave.” – Chorus to Scotland the Brave

Creme de Violette 

Nick Bullock, Ian Parnell and Tim Neill climbed a committing new three-pitch route on Beinn Eighe, Creme de Violette, IX, 9. Bullock wrote on his blog, “I wanted gear, but I couldn’t stop with feet smeared and locking the torqued axes, the fall was not very inviting, the gear was placed in the bottom of the corner. Pick placements became baggy and I didn’t want them baggy, I wanted solid – a front point on an edge – burl and pull, body tension, control, lock off, and there was still more.”

Tim Neill seconding Photo Nick Bullock (Blog)

Tim Neill seconding Photo Nick Bullock (Blog)

Nick Bullock leading  Photo Nick Bullock (Blog)

Nick Bullock leading Photo Nick Bullock (Blog)

Summit hour  Photo Nick Bullock (Blog)

Summit hour Photo Nick Bullock (Blog)

Year of the Horse

The winter is half over, but it seems the climbers in Scotland are just warming up. On January 30, Iain Small and Blair Fyffe made a serious ascent on Glen Coe. “The amount of snow is prodigious,” said Small, “It gave a real winter-only treat of turf, dirty cracks and suspect blocks. A steep wall and grooves on the second pitch led to a large girdling ledge. We called it Year of The Horse and it might be IX, 9. “The route was a full on winter tussle entailing plenty of physicality and even knee bars through the double roof. Even after the roofs I was unsure of whether the wall above would go, with cramping arms and choked cracks, but a ledge was in sight and even some neve to haul onto.” For more details, visit Scottish Winter.

“The amount of snow is prodigious,”

Iain Small on Year of the Horse Photo Richard Bentley

Iain Small on Year of the Horse Photo Richard Bentley 

Sources: Scottish Winter, Nick Bullock’s blog


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