Monday 25 January 2010

Marshall-Smith week

Jimmy Marshall

Those of you know know anything at all about winter climbing in Scotland will know instantly what I’m talking about just from the title. In 1960 Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith  climbed 6 routes on Ben Nevis in one week that were all cutting edge at the time. Some of them were first ascents such as the famous Smith’s Route (V, 5) but the others like Point Five Gully were done very much faster than previous ascents. The week has been a bit legendary ever since as pretty much the finest achievement in ice climbing using the step cutting technique and a formidable display of mountaineering skill and fitness that was not surpassed for man years or even decades.

Anyway, It’s 50 years since the famous week next month, and myself and Andy Turner will be trying to repeat the week as away of marking it personally and on film. It’s something that a few of us in Lochaber had been talking about doing for a while, but Mike Pescod from the Fort William Mountain Festival really galvanised us into action over the past few weeks, roping in Diff from Hot Aches to film us during the week and arranging for us to talk at the festival after the week about our thoughts on it and it’s importance as a great story and achievement in Scottish winter climbing.

There is more on it on the FWMF’s page on it here. But our plan is to climb the 6 routes on  Feb 6th-12th, repeat the Grey Corries traverse as Smith and Marshall did for their ‘rest day’ on the 13th and talk about it on Marshall night at the festival on the Sunday night (14th) where Jimmy himself will be making an appearance. I’m not so sure if we’ll repeat the theft of the Fort William pub’s set of Draughts and ensuring arrest by the polis, but we’ll see ; ) All very exciting.

I’ll talk more about it next week. And I’ll be tweeting, blogging etc during the week of climbs itself. Right now I’m off to train on the board and get ready for travelling to Dublin for my coaching and lecture there…

Andy Kirkpatrick is on at the FWMF on the Friday night (12th) and Diff’s lecture on Sat 13th is called ‘Climbers I’ve shot and some I’d like to shoot’ which I’m hearing is a good laugh. See y’all there.


  1. Hi Dave,

    Will the footage taken be made available afterwards other than just at the festival?


  2. Are you planning to use the traditional techniques and/or tools too? That would be awesome, and an interseting experiment to compare to modern ways...