Scarpa North America Blog

Photo Essay: On Winter Climbing In Scotland

Apr. 3rd 2014

Jon Walsh visited to the Scottish Highlands to sample their unique flavor of mixed climbing. In Scotland, the traditional approach to climbing is strongly maintained and the history of the climbs is well remembered. Modern ice climbing was developed here, and early prototypes by Yvon Chouinard and others were tested on the walls of Ben Nevis and surrounding area. These pictures embody Jon’s incredible trip and the masterful climbing that took place.

Jon Walsh climbs Craeg Meagaidh with accomplished climber Nick Bullock. (Photo: Nick Bullock)

Jon on Creag Meagaidh. It was the third ascent of Ekstacy VIII, 8, 250m. (Photo: Nick Bullock)

Jon and Nick made Ekstacy’s third ascent in a 17-hour car-to-car effort. The entire cliff was coated in thin ice and rime – prime Scottish conditions. (Photo: Nick Bullock)

After a partner switch, Jon was paired with Greg Boswell, a badass with a lot of difficult new routes under his belt. They climbed a new line on the beautiful quartzite walls of Beinn Eighe with Nick.

A route the three named “Making The Cut.”

Lochs dotted the green valleys everywhere and the snow line gave the mountains a bigger feel, despite their low altitudes.

A thick fog on its upper reaches forced the climbers to stay on lower cliffs, and they climbed some obvious thin ice lines called Mega Route X. (Photo: Paul Bride)

Jon climbs Mega Route X. (Photo: Paul Bride)

Eventually Jon settled on trying a route that seemed to be unclimbed, just left of Mick Fowler’s 7-pitch classic – The Shield Direct. (Photo: Paul Bride)

At the end of his trip, Jon writes, “Scottish winter climbing is intense. The Highlands truly are the quintessential real deal venue for mixed adventure. Rich with history and virtually devoid of gear, this was proper mixed climbing in its purest form. The addictiveness of it grew on me throughout the trip, and I know it won’t be long before I’m back again.”

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