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  • Writer's pictureDavid Buckett

Sgurr Finniosgaig falls, Smoking the white owl.

Today i was on the ice climb Smoking the white owl with comes down from the summit of Sgurr Fonniosgaig next to the top gondola station at Nevis Range, with Mark and Evan.

With the wind forecast for strong winds all day we were open to what we would get. After a quick bike along the track we walked up through the trees to the lower ice falls, looking to get the most climbing before it got too windy, we started here.

After a good grade II pitch we then soloed our way up the easier middle stepped section to mid height where we got some good short sections of steeper ice.

With the wind blowing we made our way nearer to the main steeper pitch at the top, the closer we got the less windy it got. At the base of it we made the decision to get up it quickly as there seemed to be a break in the winds and spin drift.

I set off from the belay and made good progress to half way up on really good ice and got a few good screws in. Then the spin drift machine started and didn’t stop. Not being able to see anything in any direction without snow being forced in my face I tried to get a last ice screw in before making a dash for the top. However with the ice cores in the ice screws frozen in from the previous pitch which we couldn’t get out, they were not biting and going nowhere.

After trying a good number of screws in a few different places whilst in the washing machine of spin dift, i had had enough of a painful face and frustrating ice screws so i took the decision that i would do all it took to get 1 in where i was and down climb.

This was managed pretty much with my eyes closed, but i got it in eventually and then started to down climb back to the belay. Probably my most painful time on a pitch. From the belay is was a quick easy traverse out and we were walking off. Back at the car in 40 minutes.

Type 1,2 and 3 fun today all in the space of a few hours and its the first time ive had the gap where my face is between my helmet and hood completely ice up which i had to wipe free a few times.

Scottish ice climbing
Mark climbing the first pitch

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