Thought I'd jump on the band wagon!
Legitimate I think to have 2 routes at each grade one mixed and one ice as they're so different.
Well the ones that stand out in the memory longest:
Grade 1: Catsycam and the Helvellyn ridges by moonlight
Grade 2: Ledge Route
Grade 3: Tower Ridge (Mixed), Centre Post (Ice)
Grade 4: Inaccessible Gully (in 1985)
Grade 5: Point Five (in the 1970s)
Go on then....
Grade III - Penguin Gully (III 4) has got to be up there - lots of superb climbing, long, great scenery and in the NW Highlands, however I think the best grade III I've done is Raven Crag Gully (Winter) (IV) I also thought Invernookie (IV 5) was really good but there must be better mixed grade IIIs in Scotland??
Grade IV - Minus Three Gully (IV 5) into North East Buttress (IV 5) gives ice and mixed in 1 outing. Honourable mentions for Chock Gully (V 5) Deep Cut Chimney (IV 5) and Crowberry Gully (Winter) (IV 4)
Grade V - Right-Hand Branch (V 4) has more steep ice climbing on it than famous classics like Hadrian's Wall etc. The line is superb and the architecture magnificent. The Pumpkin was really enjoyable but is surely grade IV???
I've been at this a while and I've only done one on your list!
I'm actually struggling to get down to less than 2 or 3 suggestions at each grade!
> I'm actually struggling to get down to less than 2 or 3 suggestions at each grade!
You are doing better than me. The difficulty in winter more than summer is seperating the day and place from the route.
> You are doing better than me. The difficulty in winter more than summer is seperating the day and place from the route.
Taliballan has to be up there at V 6 for most bang for your buck.
I: Hayfork Gully on An Teallach followed by the traverse, which has never been II when I've done it. (Deep South and Alligin traverse must be equally good this but I haven't found the gully in condition)
II: Sgurr nan Gillean traverse, up W ridge and down tourist route
III: if the grades when I did them are allowed, either Observatory Ridge or Crowberry Gully. Otherwise Penguin Gully or Tower Ridge.
IV: with grade inflation it's probably one of my choices at III; I also enjoyed Green Gully back in the stepcutting days
V: from my limited experience way back, either Orion Direct or Parallel B (before one side of it fell down)
Hard to argue with Orion Direct as the V 5.
Great idea Dave for these lockdown times...
Grade I: Black Spout Left-hand Branch (I)
Grade II: Raeburn's Gully (I) (Grade II on the day)
Grade III: Crowberry Gully (Winter) (IV 4) (Grade III on the day)
Grade IV: Cuillin Ridge Traverse (Winter) (IV)
Grade V: Orion Face Direct (V 5)
If I am allowed to be cheeky and break with the format for one very good route:
> . . . The difficulty in winter more than summer is seperating the day and place from the route.
Absolutely - that's why I mentioned conditions for some and the 'era' I climbed them. Doing Point Five in the mid 70s really felt like doing 'something'.
The other variable, perhaps more so in winter, is who you did it with on the day. Sadly a lot of my winter partners have been killed so some routes and are forever associated with fond memories of them.
Surely the V has to be Sticil Face.
Or Minus 2/N E Buttress.......
> Surely the V has to be Sticil Face.
> Or Minus 2/N E Buttress.......
It has to be Orion. You can't get past the easiest way up the biggest face finishing at the top of the biggest hill…...Or can you?
> The other variable, perhaps more so in winter, is who you did it with on the day.
>Sadly a lot of my winter partners have been killed so some routes and are forever associated with fond memories of them.
And sadly rather too common for comfort
As said by others, very difficult to separate the intrinsic quality of a route from the experience on the day. But...
grade I - traverse of Beinn Alligin (although Black Spout (left) as part of a skiing day is a great memory)
grade II - Either traverse of An Teallach or Liathach (starting by the northern pinnacles)
grade III - Maybe Shadow Buttress A on Lochnagar
grade IV - Crowberry Gully (was going to list this as best III but seems the grade has changed)
grade V - Polyphemus (Lochnagar) mostly for memories of the day
grade VI etc - no idea, the only VI I've ever climbed (Blue Riband in Glencoe, seconded all the hard pitches)) is now a V
edit to add - following other comments, 2 of these were with partners who died in the hills
Maybe Curved Ridge for II/III? Easy approach, easy route finding, stunning position, tops out on the top of the Buachille, the crux is entertaining, and has loads of gear making it safe and enjoyable.
I'd definitely rate it above Ledge Route.
The fact I did it in absoloutely stunning conditions probably helps...
VI - for ice, I’m going to be a bit controversial and suggest Central Icefall Direct (VI 6). For Scottish ice, probably The Shroud (VI 6) but the really isn’t a patch on Central Icefall. Fallout Corner (Winter) (VI 7) is about as good as it gets for shorter mixed routes at VI (the same could be said of Savage Slit at V - perhaps there should be a separate category for short routes). However ultimately for mixed VI my vote would go to Great Overhanging Gully (VI 7).
VII - not much experience here but The Citadel (VII 8) must be a strong contender. I guess something on Creag an Dubch-loch for ice (still haven’t been...).
> It has to be Orion. You can't get past the easiest way up the biggest face finishing at the top of the biggest hill…...Or can you?
Yes, because the very best routes are genuinely mixed of the one foot on ice/one foot on rock variety.
I agree that in winter it is really difficult to separate the route from the day / company. However:
II Liathach Ridge traverse
III Raven Crag Gully for ice and Tower Ridge for mixed
IV Dove Crag Gully for ice (although it is almost certainly harder) and Observatory Ridge for mixed (I do think that one of the best single IV mixed pitches I have climbed is The Seam however.)
V The Orion Face Direct for ice and Bowfell Buttress for mixed
VI Minus One for ice (I haven't done Gemini yet...) and Pisgah Buttress for mixed (I know the guide book says V but it is VI all day long!)
My tuppence from what I've done so far!
Grade III: Pinnacle Ridge on Great Gable
Grade IV: West Buttress on Beinn Eighe/ No. 6 Aonach Dubh
Grade V: Minus Two/Bowfell Buttress
Whether it’s III or IV, I think Tower Ridge deserves a spot in the list.
IV - Edge of Darkness, Beinn an Lochain
V - Great Central Groove, The Brack
VI - Tilt, SCnL
VII - Neanderthal, Lost Valley
IV - Left Hand Chimney, Douglas Boulder, Nevis
V - Camila, Aonach Beag
VI - Riders on the Storm, Ben Nevis
VII - Jamie's Lum Direct Finish (if you like steep, technical, thin ice and rock gear!) Drochaid Ghlas
Interesting Liathach gets most votes for Grade II. Why not Aonoch Eagach? Def up there for me.
And Grade 1 has to be Central Gully on Ben Lui. Not the best route, but the relentless walk in looking at it just builds the anticipation of a great day.
Do you reckon Neanderthal is better than Central Grooves? I've only done the latter.
Won't argue with Tilt but Camilla better than Orion?
Think I'd need to have Tholl Gate as my ice VI.
The other thing that complicates this list is that not many people have done a lot of the routes, at least not out with the honeypot ones.
I enjoyed Neanderthal more than Central Grooves, I think it's a more out there line, experience.
Camilla is the most sustained V ice route I've done, there's more easier ground on Orion. Just my opinion from memory.
I would imagine Tholl Gate is petty special, it's been on my list for some time now.
III - East Ridge (In Pinn)
IV - Tower Ridge, Grey Mare's Tail
V - Point Five Gully, Smith's Gully (OK I know they're both ice)
> Surely the V has to be Sticil Face.
It's very good but an indirect, if natural line and only a couple of hard pitches with lots of easy ground.
> It's very good but an indirect, if natural line and only a couple of hard pitches with lots of easy ground.
But the easy ground is sensational. I prefer to think of it as a route which has a bit of high quality everything.
> But the easy ground is sensational. I prefer to think of it as a route which has a bit of high quality everything.
I'm not knocking it, it just wouldn't be my one route at the grade.
III - Tower ridge.
IV - Hmmm. I don't have anything that really stands out. Maybe I need to think a bit harder..
Another vote from me for Orion as the icey route at V. But almost equally to that is Poachers.
Hard to argue with Taliballan as the mixed route at V, but I think Salvation in Sneachda is just as good. Great climbing and the day we did it, it was absolutely wild - so maybe as much about the day as the climb and not likely to be everyone's choice.
At VI I'd go for Minus One gully. Probably.
Ok, try these out for size…. a few predictable routes, but one or two which some might add to their to-do-lists:
I – Ring of Steall (Mamores), classic day and even quite committing if you’re going to make it all the way round on in midwinter
II – Liathach Traverse (Torridon), the views of Torridon in winter are unsurpassed in the UK (better than Glen Coe IMO)
III – Tower Ridge (Ben Nevis), I’ll sneak this in at III
IV – The Seam (Sneachda), great sustained pitch - not many like this at the grade.
V – Savage Slit (Lochan), the wisdom of the crowds, perhaps… but, it is a great route.
VI – Central Buttress (Beinn Eighe), great situation and compelling line straight up the middle of the Triple Buttress
VII – Citadel (Shelterstone), big, hard, and a stunning location - no pushover at VII, I think.
I – Central Gully (Ben Lui), type 1 fun
II – Fuselage Gully (Beinn Eighe), <meh> it’s a snow gully but with added interest, and its in Torridon!
III – Centre Post (Creag Meagaidh), again, straight up the centre of a classic Scottish cliff
IV – Route Major (Little Brenva Face, Ben Nevis), great alpine ambience, but unlike many on the Ben you can climb it all bathed in spring sunshine
V – Orion Face Direct (Ben Nevis), what can I say?
VI – The Cooler with the ice pillar finish (Beinn Bhan), like Poacher’s Fall and Central Icefall Direct rolled into one. Why isn’t this more recognised?
VII – The Fox’s Paw (Lost Valley Buttress), the stellar ice feature on pitch 3 is only VI to climb, but you have to pay a gate fee of VII to get onto it
> VI – The Cooler with the ice pillar finish (Beinn Bhan), like Poacher’s Fall and Central Icefall Direct rolled into one. Why isn’t this more recognised?
I completely agree with the above, especially with the pillar finish. Lots of steep ice, obliged to do the others now...
I - Deep South, Beinn Alligin
II - Raeburn’s Easy Route, Ben Nevis
III - Penguin Guy, Beinn Dearg
IV - Green Gully
V - Orion Face Direct
VI - Cooler, Beinn Bhan
II - An Teallach Traverse
III - NE Ridge, Aonach Beag
IV - Moss Ghyll (not in Scotland but better than anything IV I’ve done in Scotland)
V - Nuis Chimney, Beinn Nuis
VI - Cumming Crofton, Beinn a Bhuird
VII - Inclination, SCNL (should prob be Central Grooves but we only did the first two pitches, the party we abbed off to go to was not worth it...)
For me it depends much on the day, conditions and overall experience e.g. soloing heightens the experience for me.
I - Gully No. 1 on Criese, which I soloed. Love looking up at it from Kingshouse Hotel.
II - Aonach Eagach Ridge, Glencoe. Hells Lum, Hell's Lum Crag.
III - The White Line, Ben Nevis. Tinkerbell, Ben Udalaih
IV - Fingers Ridge, Coire an't Sneachdha. The Gutter, Ben Nevis.
V - One day maybe.
Savage Slit has no place on this list,there are loads of better V 6's!
Ha ha, maybe. I had a really good experience on it. It’s hard to separate from your assessment of quality... but I still think it’s a compelling line.
> Ha ha, maybe. I had a really good experience on it. It’s hard to separate from your assessment of quality... but I still think it’s a compelling line.
Nuis Chimney, it forms lots of ice. I'll climb the last 50m and top out on ridge one day!
GR2-Bob run on the Ben
Gr4-Wasdale Great Gully R.Hand Branch ( perfect in 1986 I think)
It does, the first pitch was an icy squeeze that you could only swing your axe back a foot or so but we didn’t place any screws (didn’t have any). I pulled more ridiculous moves than on any other route of the same grade (at one point falling across the gully with feet on one wall and axes on the other)+ the race for the last ferry adds an edge! I’d like to think Ebony Chimney would be similar?
Tango in the Night in with a shout at VI 7.
Surely only one contender for that Dave!
> I'm struggling with the IVs not many other than the usual suspects springing to mind.
Diamond Fire. Beinn Alligin.
I am struggling to put a list together. I am too influenced by great days rather than great routes.
Golden Oldy (II) gives a lot of route at II.
I really enjoyed The White Line (IV 4), heard some people compare it to a grade IV version of Orion Direct.
Haven't noticed anyone mention Ordinary Route (Central Buttress), AKA Raeburn's Route (IV 4) on SCNL, pretty bang on at IV,4 and great positions with plenty interest starting up the groove on the left side. Although maybe doesn't quite touch the likes of West Buttress (Winter) (IV 5) or North East Buttress (IV 5) in terms of commitment. Haven't done either those two in winter to compare.
Taliballan (V 6) is amazing but I haven't climbed many of the other classics at the grade. I don't really remember any easy or uninteresting moves on the whole route. I think Turf War (V 6) will become one of the more popular mixed V's on the west coast and deservedly so, easy access and quality climbing with tricky moves on every pitch.
I'm not sure I'd be accepting any routes out of the Northern Corries in a list like this.
> …..... but I still think it’s a compelling line.
Brilliant summer line at the grade but not a natural winter one.
Jeez, it’s a tough crowd in here tonight!
> I'm struggling with the IVs not many other than the usual suspects springing to mind.
Crowberry Gully being one of the usual suspects I presume? It is jolly good.
> Surely only one contender for that Dave!
Aye, but I've not done it!
I've not done that many winter routes, but these stand out
II - A'Chioch traverse on Beinn Bhan, I thought it was a great line in a lovely setting
V - it has to be the Orion. Did Sticil the other day (dont worry, before lockdown) and didnt think it was as good as it was cracked up to be, but it was quite buried. Climbing in the Loch Avon basin is special though.
VII - Un Poco Loco, i thought this was everything scottish winter was cracked up to be, steep climbing on sinker hooks up a big open face. The rock architecture is mental with the arch as well.
Did Direct Nose Route on Sgurr an Fhidhleir in summer a few years back and thought it would make a stunning winter line, it goes down on here as my dream route.
> Jeez, it’s a tough crowd in here tonight!
I think, when one is trying to determine the very best route in the country at a given grade, one should definitely be tough in discriminating!
> Did Direct Nose Route on Sgurr an Fhidhleir in summer a few years back and thought it would make a stunning winter line, it goes down on here as my dream route.
Yep! This sits in the No 1 spot on my winter wish list.
> Yep! This sits in the No 1 spot on my winter wish list.
I keep coming back to Roger's point about it being as much to do with the whole experience as the quality of the climbing in winter.
The Fiddler's Nose was undoubtedly one of the best days out I've had in winter but there is more good climbing at the grade on some northern Corrie routes!
Perhaps the best VII I've done in terms of interesting climbing sustained at the grade is Samurai on Being Eighe. It only gets a single star in the book although I think that was mostly down to Andy's slightly idiosyncratic approach to star ratings!
Agree with you about the Fiddlers Nose in both respects. Central Buttress is very similar in that respect, though there is probably more climbing on it than on the Fiddler.
Tango in the Night was, for me at least, the opposite. A great route packed with climbing, on a good day with good mates. But the top pitch was so loose that it scared the sh*t out of me and now that's all I really remember about it.
Another contender for a mixed VI for me would be Skyscraper Buttress (Empire State). Great climbing from top to bottom, but the day was perfect for lots of other reasons including the fact it was our 4th or 5th visit to try and get on it.
Skyscraper was another contender for me, a truly mixed route and when I swung round that corner and looked up at the ribbon of perfect ice down the Empire State variation I let out a little giggle of delight.
Good to hear about Samurai, that’s gone straight on my wish list!
Slightly off topic but has anyone done Kami-kazi? We clocked it whilst climbing on Far East wall and thought it looked insane for a VI!
Yes. Its very, very good indeed.
The only thing Samurai lacks is a strong line. All 4 pitches have interesting tech 7 climbing on them.
> The Fiddler's Nose was undoubtedly one of the best days out I've had in winter but there is more good climbing at the grade on some northern Corrie routes!
Interesting re: the Nose.
I think this issue is particularly true of more mid-grade mixed routes (hence I ended up including them on my list).
It speaks to a notion that we place weight on doing routes which we perceive as being "special" in some way, perhaps even before we've set foot on them. Racing against the crowds in the no'rries destroys this notion, even if the route you get on is objectively stellar climbing.
I think there's also been a traditional bias in giving stars to routes with strong lines.
Line is important but it's no guarentee of quality climbing and you can't often see the line whilst your climbing it!
Yes. To all of that. Just a bloody great day. It really shouldn't have lived up to all the expectations but it certainly did and gave one of my best days out, without question.
Of the ones I have done that I think would be in with a shout....
II Ledge Route
III Good Friday Climb
III 4 Glover’s Chimney
IV 3 Tower Ridge
IV 4 North Buttress (Buachaille) or Deep Cut Chimney (Bidean nam Bian)
IV 5 Deep Cut Chimney (Hell's Lum)
V 4 Zero Gully or Observatory Buttress
V Orion Face Direct
V 6 Taliballan
VI 6 Gargoyle Wall
VI 7 Tango in the Night
VII 7 Direct Nose Route
Of the ones I'd like to do that I think would be in with a shout....
IV 3 Nordwand
IV 4 Cullin Ridge Traverse
IV 5 The Great Chimney (Ben Nevis)
V 4 Observatory Ridge
V Tir na Og
V 6 Raven’s Gully (Buachaille)
VI 6 Tholl Gate or Gully of the Gods
VI 7 Great Overhanging Gully
VII 7 Genesis, Snoopy, Central Grooves
VII 8 The Citadel
VIII 8 Centurion, Blood Sweat & Frozen Tears, The Godfather, The Needle
I've confined my picks to Scotland only in all cases.
Kami-Kazi would be on my list as the VI just for the situation and being on that cliff.
Agree about SS, not even the best V on that buttress in my opinion!
Perhaps you need two mixed categories Rocky and North West Turf splitting things like Un Poco Loco or Gargoyle Wall from Snoopy, Genesis, The Godfather etc?
II Twisting Gully (Coire na Caime, Liathach)
III Crowberry Gully/Penguin Gully
IV Diamond Fire (Beinn Alligin)
V Orion Direct
VI The Fly Direct
VII Labyrinth Direct
VIII Fubarbundy (Liathach) (Entirely on appearance I haven't done it. I went, I saw, I wimped)
IX One Step Beyond (Ben Eighe) (Based on Pete MacPherson's enthusiastic description)
X ask Guy or someone younger and even stronger
If I was basing this on best days it would be different. Mixed routes I find harder to pick. There are also a considerable number of very good unrepeated lines which firstly need the grade to be sorted out (there was a lot of activity when the two tier system came in and there were different interpretations) and secondly need the stars rationalised. Some were over starred for great days and places and some under starred because people weren't thinking about it.
For honourable mentions I would add Tir na Og, Silver Tear, Smiths Gully and I could probably fill the page.
> Of the ones I'd like to do that I think would be in with a shout....
> IV 3 Nordwand
> IV 4 Cullin Ridge Traverse
> IV 5 The Great Chimney (Ben Nevis)
> V 4 Observatory Ridge
> V Tir na Og
> V 6 Raven’s Gully (Buachaille)
> VI 6 Tholl Gate or Gully of the Gods
> VI 7 Great Overhanging Gully
> VII 7 Genesis, Snoopy, Central Grooves
> VII 8 The Citadel
> VIII 8 Centurion, Blood Sweat & Frozen Tears, The Godfather, The Needle
That's a seriously good tick list but so was your other one...
I'm going to include routes I want to do/ still haven't done too:
Grade I - Catstycam Gully and Helvellyn Edges for a grand day out. Still to do - Central Gully on Beinn Lui. I was hoping for a spring ascent on good neve this year what with the amount of late snow we had but alas not to be.
Grade II - Central Gully Left Hand on Great End, No. 2 Gully Ben Nevis and NC Gully Stob Coire nan Lochan - all for rock scenery. Love to do - Aonach Eagach on a bluebird day
Grade III - Blea Water Gill on High Street and SC Gully Stob Coire nan Lochan (my first ever route!). Love to do - Penguin Gully Beinn Dearg, The White Line Ben Nevis (still a III in my old guidebook!)
Grade IV - Comb Gully and Green Gully Ben Nevis. Love to do - Crowberry Gully B E Mor
Grade V - Smith's Route Ben Nevis (best day out), Point 5 (most stoked to do), Dove Crag Gully Grasmoor (hardest V I've done). Love to do - Orion Direct, Zero Gully, Hadrian's Wall on the Ben and Smith's Gully, The Pumpkin and Last Post on Creag Meagaidh
> VI The Fly Direct
> VII Labyrinth Direct>
Did you mean to put these routes this way round grade-wise? Labyrinth is often done as a VI,5 nowadays.
Interesting this discussion about the great long routes and whether the climbing in reality stands up to the shorter stuff. Haven't done Fiddler's Nose yet unfortunately, but I can understand how the climbing might not be amazing. Having said that, you've surely got to take into account the amazing situation?
Central Buttress to me misses out on being truly great due to the rambling lower section and no obvious line in the middle. In the top section the climbing is excellent; if only it was like that all the way! Mitre Ridge is another where it's a great line but the climbing is really no better than in the Norries. My memories of that day are more down to the adventure - starting up another route, bailing onto Mitre Ridge at the start of its difficulties, it starting to snow persistently, finishing in the dark then ploughing back to the howff for midnight after a 17hr day! I've got similar memories of Diamond Fire - again for me not a route really memorable for the climbing.
I thought Kamikaze pretty overrated. Someone in the logbooks says the climbing is piss poor (or words to that effect) and I'd agree it's nothing special, and VI is my top grade! Definitely don't remember a 'spectacular' traverse. For all that it's still worth doing, but I can't imagine the climbing compares to the harder lines.
Here is my off top of my head stab at a top list
grade III Tower Ridge
grade IV West Butt (Beinn Eighe)
grade V Orion Face
grade VI Tango In the night / Storrveggan / Riders on the storm direct
grade VII Blood Sweat and Frozen Tears / Central Grooves
grade VIII Hung Drawn and Quartered / Sundance / The Needle
In terms of ice routes I’ve not done anything in the UK that compares with the best in Canada or Europe
I love these threads!
Hard for me to choose but:
Grade I: ice Raeburn's (Meggy) , mixed Beinn Alligin Ridge Traverse
Grade II: ice North Gully (the Ben), mixed Aonach Eagach Ridge Traverse
Grade III: ice SC Gully or Expert's Choice, mixed Astroturfer
Grade IV: ice Italian Right-Hand, mixed Fingers Ridge or North Buttress
Grade V: ice South Post Direct or Point Five, mixed Crest Route
I - Striding Edge, although it's a struggle to think of a really good Grade I I've done.
II - Aonach Eagach Ridge (Winter) (II), both the day and the route for this one.
III - Again, I struggle to think of a good III I've done. Perhaps Smoking the White Owl (III 4) for the delight of climbing low level ice in Scotland.
IV - Slingsby's Chimney Route (Winter) (IV 5) or Deep Cut Chimney (IV 5) for mixed; Comb Gully (IV 4) or Eas Anie (IV 4) by night for ice.
V - The Guillotine (V 6) for variety and location, Pot of Gold (V 6) for quality of climbing. Just to be controversial, I thought Point Five Gully (V 5) was initially fantastic, but really marred by two-thirds of the route being Grade II snow plod...
Many more potential 'best' routes at IV or V for me, I think due to them in turn being close to my limit at the time, and so a more absorbing and satisfying experience.
> Haven't done Fiddler's Nose yet unfortunately, but I can understand how the climbing might not be amazing. Having said that, you've surely got to take into account the amazing situation?
Yes the situation is superb. I can only really remember 2 pitches in detail, the one described at linking blobs of turf and the thin crack that's the last proper pitch. The latter is excellent and lifts the whole route out of the 'all about the line and setting' category.
I'm not going to argue with the overall grade but let's just say it's the kind of VII that experienced VI leaders could have a go at...
For me this probably another one where the day triumphs over the route.
The Stob Coire nam Beith DCC was pleasant snow and ice climbing on a long route - but not that memorable, and topping out into a total maelstrom.
By contrast, for the Hell's Lum DCC, we turned up at Hell's Lum on a sunny but cold day to find most of the ice routes stripped or falling down (having walked past the blootered Northern Corries). We chanced our way up DCC fully expecting the top pitch to be V Diff rather than IV. The lower section leading into the chimney was a narrow goulotte on perfect neve. The top of the chimney was another world, still being plastered with rime, with fun, unique moves back-and-footing sideways into space to finish.
It might just be that I find mixed more interesting!
Although I've gone off mixed in my old age, my top 5 ice routes yet to do (I-V) are easier for me do decide than the ones I've done:
I - Central Gully, Ben Lui
II - Twisting Gully on Liathach
III - Central Gully Left-Hand on the Ben (Right-Hand was superb, LH looks just as good)
IV - Thompson's Route
V - Zero (I admit I've always been a bit shaky at V, but the few I've done at this grade have all been mind-blowing! Situation-wise, Indicator Right-Hand was marvellous.)
I've messaged you through the forum about another matter Mark. Just thought I'd say in case your email wasn't up to date.
I was just being a bit cheeky, they're both great routes!
I am surprised at Zero getting a few votes though. One big pitch then mostly plodding iirc.
Back in the day when gear was different and Margaret Thatcher was in power...
Happy to be corrected
Which is of course part of the problem with the grading system. We should probably save that one for lockdown week 5 though!
> Hells Lum Deep Cut Chimney is an exceptionally good route. I've cruised it and battled it. I've never been disappointed with it.
I was just joking really. I got the other DCC in interesting nick at a time when it was close to my limit in that condition and I lead all the harder pitches so it stuck in my mind.
I had forgotten the other DCC. Thank you for reminding me of it. It was one of the 'Great Days' of my youth with one of the best of friends. We approached it with over confidence and left with profound respect for MacKenzie and Murray cutting their way up with slater's hammers.
Maybe we need a list of Awesome routes of their time?
Cheers for the message, Dave. I'll get on the case.
Can’t resist any more...
1: NE ridge of Angel’s Peak
2: Ledge route
3: Tower ridge
4: Observatory ridge
5: Orion face, Smiths Gully, Eagle Ridge, Parallel B (before and after!), Riders on the storm
6: Shroud, Cumming-Crofton with Bell’s Finish, Labyrinth Direct
7: Fly direct, Fiddler Nose
8: Needle, BSFT
I see The White Line, Ben Nevis is actually a IV, so I would replace it with West Gully III, Ben Udalaidh (2010) the year the ice mushrooms / chandeliers formed.
For those who have done it how does Vertigo Wall rate? I have a vague recollection of reading that Mick Fowler rated as one of the best Scottish routes he'd done. (Of course, being of advancing years, I may have just made that up!)
I think it was Andy Nisbet that said that.
Indeed. An excellent route, truly mixed, superb exposure. Can’t believe I hadn’t thought to include it in my list
Of the contenders which not many people have done Snoopy is the one that most intrigues me.
> For those who have done it how does Vertigo Wall rate?
I got to do it as an almost pure (if thin) ice route. Was very good and very bold but I suspect lacked some of the character the mixed version might give. Not sure if it would quite make it into my top five VIIs though.
We've talked about it for years, even walked in once but it was as black as the Earl o' hell's weskit as my dad would say. The ice was still there so we weren't far wrong.
Think there are a few folks on here who've done it.
Genesis is the one that I find most intriguing. Has anyone on here done it?
That too. Think Andy Inglis might have?
More info out there about Genesis than Snoopy though.
Genesis a contender for top 5. I didn’t know much about it before we did it and I thought it was brilliant! Really cool climbing up the ice line up the chimney on the 3rd pitch (I think) especially.
Alright Dave here’s my suggestions from the ones I’ve done....
IV - West gully, lochnagar
V - Astral Highway / Guillotine (rogue suggestion I know - much more interesting than Sticil)
VI - Gully of the Gods / Central Buttress (Beinn Eighe)...... bewildabeast is pretty cool too.
VII - Vertigo Wall / Genesis / Link Direct / Central Grooves
VIII - West Central Gully / Sundance / The Needle / Ice Bomb (direct)
IX - Godzilla (from the limited pool I have had the pleasure of)
Grade I- Central Gully Ben Lui. It's like a Scottish Nordwand viewing it from Tyndrum area.
Grade II- Curved Ridge Buachaille Etive Mor. What a route at the grade.
Grade III- West Buttress Beinn an Dothaidh. Superb turfy Southern Highlands goodness.
Grade IV- Deep Cut Chimney Hell's Lum. The finale best served in the dark in a blizzard.
Grade V- Orion Direct Ben Nevis. When I first saw the Orion Face I never imagined I would climb it. https://www.vimeo.com/60968920
A very West centric selection of choices. I know the Ben is more snow sure and that possibly accounts for the spread. Some interesting omissions, no Curtain, no Central Gully on Meagaidh, no Eagle Ridge, the Shelter Stone routes minimum mention. What else is missing quality wise?
I think you may be right about Central Gully Ben Lui. Hayfork and Deep South are great lines but they don't have that open face finish on the summit of a pointy hill quality.
Loved the video - respect.
To be fair all those that you have indicated get a mention with the exception of The Curtain.
> A very West centric selection of choices. I know the Ben is more snow sure and that possibly accounts for the spread. Some interesting omissions, no Curtain, no Central Gully on Meagaidh, no Eagle Ridge, the Shelter Stone routes minimum mention. What else is missing quality wise?
Because West is best?
I'm not in a position to suggest routes on Lochnagar or the Dubh Loch having not done much or anything there.
I think all the Shelterstone routes worthy of inclusion have been mentioned, Sticil, Citadel and The Needle. Outwith them there are some good routes but not best in country good. I think a few folks have mentioned Guillotine on Carn Etchachan and I think it's a good candidate.
I'm sure there's routes on the more remote Gorms crags that deserve more mention but maybe they don't see enough traffic or don't quite have the quality. White Nile would fall into the latter category, great day out but really only 2 pitches. I wonder if Red Chimney or some of the more ephemeral routes on Creagan a' Choire Etchachan might be worth mention?
Eagle ridge I can’t comment on as am saving it!
Needle and Citadel are candidates, postern and sticil face I would say not. Route Major might make a top 5 list but lots of easy ground. Steeple I suspect might make a top 5 maybe, I would like to be able to comment!
Lots of folks mentioning riders on the storm and minus 1 gully, I thought both were good but not best in country. I expect that the shroud, gemini or labyrinth would be even better.
Tango in the Night is great, some line, fun climbing in a special place and the views of loch Torridon from the top are sublime but the loose top pitch is worrying. Might make a top 5 list. Royal Pardon and Salmon Leap might also squeeze in....
I also forgot to include Centurion in my list of VIII’s, mega route.
The fly direct is very good, amazing line and very engaging. I thought vertigo was better (but it’s in more often....) though down to being more varied.
Square cut gully Icefall on pitch 2 is cool but not best in country. I would like to include more esoteric gorma routes but couldn’t say they are better than the west or NW routes....
Top fives at each grade probably make more sense than single routes!
Red Chimney might be a good call. Hope so. I have been saving it for a perfect day. After this I will just do it next time I can.
Also, moving away from ice, how about Pinnacle Ridge on Sgurr nan Gilean? I have only done it in summer but it looks like an excellent winter line. It also fulfills a bias I have towards routes that more or less finish on summits.
(possible thread, 'most sporting ways to the summits of Scottish hills' ?)
I think all the best ridges from grade I - IV are on Skye, which is saying something as Tower Ridge would normally be my top route at any grade !
Finding it really hard to make a list of top routes of Ice and Mixed, as some of my top ice routes have been mixed routes when completely iced, like Savage Slit when I never touched rock.
I was underwhelmed by Royal Pardon tbh Andy. Just the one pitch really.
Fair point Jase, I just recall it being a nice line and unfortunately can't recall much of the climbing except there was some steepness and exposure. I suppose that clarifies it for me as not top 5 material then! I was (positively) biased it towards it being a nice, moderately long ice climb that wasn't on the ben!
Sgurr nan Gillean definitely a good call. I suggested the W-SE traverse as best grade II back near the start of the thread, and the top part of Pinnacle Ridge also felt grade II the one time I did it (reached by 4/5 Gully).
Red Chimney certainly looks impressive, as does the Corridor further left on same cliff (photo in my gallery).
We went in to do Red Chimney but were distracted by the amazing ice pillar feature of square cut gully (pitch 2 - Square-Cut Gully (Winter) (V 6)). It looked like the best thing to climb that day. Red Chimney sounds good from the guide and I think Henning W wrote a blog about doing it. Best in the country though….?
> We went in to do Red Chimney but were distracted by the amazing ice pillar feature of square cut gully (pitch 2 - Square-Cut Gully (Winter) (V 6)). It looked like the best thing to climb that day. Red Chimney sounds good from the guide and I think Henning W wrote a blog about doing it. Best in the country though….?
I imagine Djibangi and Dagger must be fabulous lines when iced (presumably rarely).
I would think so. At a guess, I would suspect Carn Etcheachan could be used as a barometer / analogue of conditions there as similar altitude and aspect. Also a bit slabbier so I could imagine finding cruddy ice in those drainage lines if you got the timing wrong. Relatively, no one goes there, so at least you would have a nice long day of solitude on a remote cliff, possibly enhanced by a stay at the Hutchy.
> Finding it really hard to make a list of top routes of Ice and Mixed, as some of my top ice routes have been mixed routes when completely iced, like Savage Slit when I never touched rock.
I can't come up with a Mixed list. There are too many different varieties.
There is going to be plenty of time to consider this stuff though, unfortunately.
Lots of other lists we could amuse ourselves with too if we narrow the criteria.
I have great memories of all of these days and struggle with the idea of 'best..' but additionally they are 'the lines'... !
I - Up N ridge Sgurr a Bhasteir -down NW ridge Bruach na Frithe
II - Raeburns Gully
III - Terminal Buttress/N Pinnacles/Liathach W-E traverse
IV - Cuillin traverse
V - Parrallel B Gully
Ok then - people's best 5 routes at each grade.
(Heads off to think...)
Five per grade.... hmmm here's my current selection for grade III-V but if you asked me tomorrow I'd have a different 5 for each grade.
IV Green Gully (IV 3) Obvious pick but its classic for a reason
Raven Crag Gully (Winter) (IV) Best IV in the country?
Pyramid Gully (IV 5) A classic gully on the best winter cliff in Wales
Crowberry Gully (Winter) (IV 4) Wanted to do this for years before I did
Minus Three Gully (IV 5) Lots of good climbing as well as the classic icicle crux
V Right Hand Gantry Curtain (V 4) - probably the only one of the main Honister falls taht still forms regularly since the mine drainage changed.
Right-Hand Branch (V 4) A superb classic
The Ice Hose (V 4) Remote ish, rare, great line and climbing
The Pumpkin (V 4) Maybe not grade V but loads of great climbing and a classic line
I agree - I'm bound to think of some in a few minutes and change my mind.
From the ones I've done:
III - Tower Ridge. Twisting Gully. Liathach Traverse with Northern Pinnacles. Raven Crag Gully. Good Friday Climb
IV - Observatory Buttress, Dove Crag Gully, Route Major (CE), Moss Ghyll, Deep Cut Chimney (HL)
V - Orion Direct, Great Gully Right Hand Branch, Bowfell Buttress, Poachers Fall, Crest Route.
VI - Minus One Gully, Pisgah Buttress Direct, Gargoyle Wall, Fallout Corner, Botterill Slab.
I just cannot get my head round such list! Not objective enough... about the experience on the given day or the feeling of satisfaction when a route is finally ticked.
Aye, but it's fun.
I agree, to put it another way I’ve certainly not done a better route!
Tower face of the comb I thought superb and Mitre Ridge too.
Minus One, Poachers and Smiths Gully possibly my favourite ice routes.
> I think I have read most of the posts. I am a little surprised that no one seems to rate Eagle Ridge. I have done a few of the grade V routes which seem popular, but for me Eagle Ridge was far and away the most outstanding route. Perhaps at any grade. Maybe I am not discriminating enough!
Is it not given VI these days?
Definitely VI and very good value;)
Eagle Ridge in good nick is the dream route. soon hopefully
From what I've done I'd say my favourites have been:
I - Black Spout The Black Spout (I)
II - Liathach Traverse Main Ridge Traverse (winter) (II)
III - The Resurrection,The Resurrection (III) Sgurr Mor (probably a IV)
IV - The Stonker The Stonker (IV 5) on Sgurr na Feartaig (mainly because I've not done the Cullin Traverse yet!)
V - Poacher's fall Poacher's Fall (V 5)
Happy to lend you my guidebook. It's grade V in that. I was never a grade VI climber; the very thought of it gives me the heeby jeebies!
Surely you are missing your grade VII ice tick in this list - Long Climb pretty memorable!
Another great post, now I'm safely retired from winter climbing I might as well have a go, I have done a lot of grade Vs and VIs it seems and not a lot of other grades but I'll try anyway:-
Ice (definitely my preference!)
I - Tower Gully Ben Nevis and Blackspout, Lochnagar, both atmospheric and even better to ski down.
II - No 2 Gully on the Ben - again great line and even better ski descent!
III - Grey Mare's Tail LH (including fun pillar) has loads of great pitches, shame it forms so rarely!
IV - Eas Anie LH has some great ice climbing and is worth seeking out. The Screen in Glen Coe also pretty full value pitch and combined with No6 Gully (another classic Grade IV) makes a brilliant day out.
V - Tough one this - I think Blue Riband (especially with fun mixed pitches higher up) just beats the excellent Poacher's Falls. Point V is good but slightly overrated as eases up a lot after some fun pitches to start. Orion Direct also in the mix for positions rather than climbing but I think it's variants are better (Direct start, long climb finish, Astral Highway etc) Other contenders are Smith's Gully and Parallel Gully B (post rockfall)
VI - Minus I Gully (into NE Buttress) for how long I had to wait to climb it and it didn't disappoint. As mentioned above the Cooler into the crux pillar of Silver Tear is a pretty amazing line and one of the longest most sustained Euro style ice climbing routes in Scotland. Honorable mention to Royal Pardon, Slav Route, the famous ice pitch on Gemini, the amazing Astral Highway and many more! Ben Nevis is well blessed at this grade and grade V.
VII - Long Climb Finish to Orion Direct - about grade V technically but wild moves in great position above the basin and very run out.
Mixed (Not so much to choose from here)
I? Does grade I mixed even exist?
II - Aonach Eagach is always a great day out in winter and Liatach Ridge also pretty memorable.
III - Tower Ridge surely gets the vote here (It's not really grade IV is it, just a long III route). Cat's Nick on Arthur's Seat also very memorable.
IV - Really enjoyed the Message and NE Buttress and of course the Cuillin Ridge is a grand day out.
V - Has to be Sticil Face for me, varied route on a big mountain. Menage a Trois and Savage Slit also pretty fun but much shorter!
VI - Gemini gets the vote here as plenty of mixed pitches to go with the great ice ones at the bottom.
VII - Postal Strike (new route on Meggy) has a great steep ice pitch and a fun mixed pitch above. Messiah is also pretty perfect too with some memorable mixed moves on pitch 1 into an ice pitch to finish.
> Happy to lend you my guidebook. It's grade V in that. I was never a grade VI climber; the very thought of it gives me the heeby jeebies!
It's VI 6 in the current Cairngorms one. Perhaps one of these 'used to be climbed in very snowy/icy conditions but now often climbed under powder' upgrades?
Grade1. Carn Mor Dearg Arete
Grade2. Dorsal Arete
Grade4. Tower Ridge or Deep Cut Chimney on Hells Lum
Grade 5. Orion Face Direct
> It's VI 6 in the current Cairngorms one. Perhaps one of these 'used to be climbed in very snowy/icy conditions but now often climbed under powder' upgrades?
It was a V in the 1985? SMC guide. At the time despite the existence of routes like Gemini, Left hand Route, Route II direct etc there was only one VI (The Shield) given on Ben Nevis. VI only really came into fashion with the new wave of guidebooks, and new grading system, in the 90s. (One of the reasons that there are still quite a lot of very tough IVs).
> It's VI 6 in the current Cairngorms one. Perhaps one of these 'used to be climbed in very snowy/icy conditions but now often climbed under powder' upgrades?
I'm sure I remember it getting V in the (early?) '80s but with a proviso that the grade was "reserved for the more usual powder conditions" (or something like that) with the implication that it was IV in favourable conditions! I'll see if I've still got the guidebook when I get home. I did it in '88 under really deep powder with Brendan Murphy - it was desperate, and we both took falls and used one or two aid point in a 12 hour epic with the mountain to ourselves! One of my most memorable days climbing.
Yeah Eagle Ridge is given VI 6 now, was a V. I included it in my list up thread at the latter grade because I forgot about the change.
I’ve done it when it was the former grade and it was a full on day. But I’ve also done it when it was almost a IV - we moved together to the base of the tower, one 60m pitch then move together to the top. My understanding, based on a comment from someone who should know, is that the conditions we got second time round were closer to those on early ascents. (We did Parallel Buttress and Scarface the same day - a stellar day out.)
> I'm sure I remember it getting V in the (early?) '80s but with a proviso that the grade was "reserved for the more usual powder conditions" (or something like that) with the implication that it was IV in favourable conditions! I'll see if I've still got the guidebook when I get home.
I've dug out my old guides. Both the '78 and '85 editions: "In calm weather and in good conditions a technically reasonable climb can be enjoyed; but the grade V is reserved for more traditional conditions, when the ridge becomes a big undertaking".
I'm also reminded that the Tough-Brown Traverse must be one of the best routes of its grade (III or maybe IV now), covering some great ground at a reasonable standard.
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