2016 BMC Winter International Meet: wild weather and friendships formed

Posted by Tom Livingstone on 02/02/2016
Ian Welsted from Canada on Sioux Wall Photo Ian Parnell

The meet has come to an end; the guests have packed their bags, taken one last look at the Scottish mountains and headed for home, with memories of fantastic routes and challenging conditions. Host Tom Livingstone reports on the week’s events.

Around 35 international guests from 28 countries travelled to Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms in the last week of January, to be partnered with British hosts, with one simple aim: to enjoy the delights of Scotland in winter. Abilities ranged from winter climbing superstars to first-time-in-crampons. There was a real mix of ages, abilities and backgrounds, but everyone was really psyched for it, and they got to experience the delights and elation of winter climbing in Scotland, and also suffer the frustration and hardships: wild weather, driving rain, soaked kit and unsuccessful walk-ins.

Conditions were very poor during week, with Storm Gertrude bringing severe gales to northern Britain. Initially, it was too warm, before becoming ‘too windy’ (something that was previously considered ‘impossible’ in Scotland!). Climbers enjoyed some sport or trad climbing on Monday and Tuesday, with a few sampling the delights of the nearest dry tooling crag, Newtyle. Conditions had improved by mid-week and teams headed into  the Northern Corries and onto Ben Nevis: Sioux Wall, Deep Throat, Fallout Corner and Savage Slit were particularly popular.

Every evening we were entertained and inspired by a guest speaker: Uisdean Hawthorn (Scotland), Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted (Canada), Prerna Dangi (India), Erik Eisele (USA), Nuno Goncalves (Portugal) and George Voutiropoulos (Greece) enthralled us with climbing tales of their home countries.

Thursday’s weather was especially poor, with storm-force winds and heavy snow but teams made the most of the conditions. Mess of Pottage and Fiacull Buttress were particularly popular. Impressively, Raphael Slawinski managed to onsight The Secret in a single pitch. Dave Almond and Luka Strazar climbed Pic ’n’ Mix, and Ian Welsted and Tom Livingstone climbed The Gathering. Notably, German climber Michael Rinn and UK host Simon Richardson made the first ascent of a new V,7 on The Stuic on Lochnagar.

The weather was certainly ‘tough’ (125 mph winds were recorded at the Cairn Gorm weather station!) and goggles were useful every day. At times, the walk-ins felt like being in a freezing car wash, but friendships were formed, routes shared and stories retold, and every climber agreed: they had certainly undergone the ‘full’ Scottish experience, and will be back for more.

Thanks to Becky McGovern, Nick Colton, the BMC, the international guests, the host climbers and Glenmore Lodge for a great event.

Also, check out Simon Richardson's blog here

Read Michael Rinn's report from Germany


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