Monday 24th February 2020, 1:21pm
Sunday was when it all came together, and more than 50 international and UK host climbers headed out onto the mountains for some much anticipated winter climbing.
Streap Alba Geamhradh 2020 (Climb Scotland Winter 2020) was a year in the planning, with suspense down to the wire as decent winter conditions failed to develop.
Those conditions finally started building in the days leading up to the arrival of all the climbers on Saturday afternoon, 55 climbers from 23 countries meeting at Aviemore Youth Hostel.
After a busy evening getting settled in and fed, many of the climbers were kitted out in new gear from sponsors Salewa. Then it was down to briefing sessions, guest and host climbers getting to know each other in their teams and pairs and making plans for the morning, which involved venues as widespread as the Cairngorms, Torridon and Ben Nevis and Lochaber. For all the planning and kit preparation, though, everyone opted for an early night.
Some were away for a pre-dawn start, but those who were Cairngorms-bound were on the verge of choosing another venue before the ski road finally opened and they could head up for what turned out to be a productive day.
Event coordinator Simon Richardson provides a round-up of day one on the cliffs:
“The first pair down was Nicolas Dieu and Michael Poulsen from Denmark who climbed the classic Pot of Gold (V,6) in Coire an t-Sneachda. Other routes climbed in the corrie included Fingers Ridge, Fluted Ridge Direct, Doctor’s Choice, The Lamp, Vortex, Original Summer Route, Yukon Jack, The Slant Direct and Aladdin’s Mirror Direct. Jamie Skelton and Damian Granowski from Poland had an impressive day with No Blue Skies, The Message and Pot of Gold.
“A couple of pairs ventured north to Torridon and found excellent conditions on Beinn Eighe. On the Far East Wall, Neil Adams and Peter Hoang (Canada) made an ascent of the modern classic Sundance (VIII,8) and on the Eastern Ramparts, Callum Johnson and Lukas Klingora (Czech Republic) came away with the fourth ascent of Boggle (VIII,8). In Glen Coe, Paul Ramsden and Wadim Jablonski (Poland) climbed the superlative Central Grooves (VII,7) on Stob Coire nan Lochan.
“On Ben Nevis, the thaw on Friday saturated the snowpack, which has now frozen hard bringing many routes into condition. Ascents were made of Waterfall Gully, The Curtain, 1931 Route, Italian Climb, Route 2/Route 1 Combination and Orion Direct. Dave Almond and Trym Saeland (Norway) climbed Darth Vader (VII,7) and Rich Bentley and Seokju Woo (South Korea) made an ascent of Tower Face of The Comb (VI,6).”
On Sunday night the climbers split up between the CIC Hut on Ben Nevis, Lagangarbh at Glen Coe, Raeburn Hut at Laggan and Mill Cottage at Feshiebridge, and as the week goes on they’ll each get a taste of the different bases before the final night at the after party at Tiso in Aviemore and accommodation once more at the Aviemore Youth Hostel.
The 2020 International Winter Meet – Streap Alba Geamhradh – is hosted by Mountaineering Scotland and supported by the Scottish Mountaineering Club, The Alpine Club, British Mountaineering Council and Salewa.
Photo: Wadim Jablonski from Poland climbing the modern classic Central Grooves (VII,7) at Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glen Coe. Photo by Paul Ramsden.