Rich nails Heidbanger Direct on the Ben…

Scottish Winter Report – just in from Rich:

“ Had brilliant first trip of season to Scotland last weekend, with Andy Benson. Saturday was baltic and the buttresses were nicely rimed high on the Ben, so we warmed up on the modern classic ‘Sioux Wall’, on No 3 Gully Buttress. Originally given VIII 8 but not so bad really, steep and intimidating but good hooks and plenty of gear. Amazing climbing – a must do route!

A raging blizzard greeted us on Monday morning as we stumbled back to the Ben. It was savage up high, but Trident Buttress was reasonably calm and in stunning condition with a good coating of rime and fresh snow. We opted to try the first winter ascent of ‘Heidbanger’ (with the Cranium direct start), a summer E1 giving 3 varied pitches. Andy bagged the first pitch: a fine overhanging crack leading to an offwidth slot perched in the lip of an overhang – very burly and very awkward.

Above, a steep exit from the cosy belay cave led to an intimidating blank wall. Veins of snow promised hooks and gear, but delivered only blank rounded seams – slightly disappointing! 30ft of teetering, thin hooks, long reaches, and spaced pro finally brought a blob of turf into reach – phew! Andy dispatched the final pitch in the dark, a time consuming combo of powder covered slabs, unhelpful blind grooves and hard won gear.

8pm finally saw us abseiling down ‘Megaroute X’ back to our sacks and the long trudge down. An excellent days sport! Not too sure about the grade, but on Sioux Wall we had a later start and topped out at 3.30pm, so this probably says something about ‘Heidbanger Direct’… We opted for a shorter day on Tuesday so headed for Stob Corrie Nan Lochain. The excellent East Face Route Direct (classic 6) gave us some great climbing and fine situations, in the steep chimneys overlooking SC gully. Awesome trip, can’t wait to get back up there! “

Rich on Sioux Wall VIII,8 – Ben Nevis

Andy Benson on Sioux Wall

Give that man an offwidth – Andy Benson on the first pitch of Heidbanger Direct


Rich running it out on the thin and scary second pitch of Heidbanger Direct

Abseiling down Mega Route X in the dark.