Tuesday 17 March 2015


Leading the steep crack at the start of Tripod VII,7 on Ben Nevis. Photo Helen Rennard.

The walls on the left side of Tower Ridge is a part of Ben Nevis I’ve visited quite a lot over the years and really like. Obviously, my interest in this area started with Echo Wall some years ago. Since then I’ve done a couple of winter routes around here too. In winter it can provide good shelter from a westerly storm and also remains in condition for mixed quite late in the season. The other week Helen and myself climbed Red Dragon on the wall right of Echo Wall. On Saturday we needed to go higher to find good conditions and walked up to the wall up and left of Echo Wall, near Tower Scoop.

The other year we did a good new VII,8 here which I called Angry Chair. The name came from a huge detached block which I sat and belayed on, looking for a way to finish the route with overhanging blankness above. It reminded me of the song Angry Chair by a band I grew up listening to called Alice in Chains. The song starts:

“Sitting on the Angry Chair. Angry Walls that steal the air...”

Angry Chair followed the first pitch of Clefthanger (summer HVS, winter VI,6) before heading up a groove on the right. On Saturday I started up a steep crack just left of this which would lead into the iced up upper section of Clefthanger. The crack looked VI,6 from below, but turned out to be a good VII,7 with fiddly gear and poor footholds for quite a long way. It was excellent though and I continued all the way to the top in one 68m pitch.

I thought it might be nice to keep going with the Alice in Chains theme for names. I have always liked the grim lyrics and style and so we could call this one Tripod, after their rather darkly illustrated album. It kind of feels relevant to how I'm going to be climbing for the coming couple of months! The area right of Tower Scoop now has 4 good mixed routes between VI and VIII. Tripod starts up the short flow of ice at the base, into the cracks and then the big left leaning ice ramps.

Helen finishing the pitch on great ice.

Tripod starts up the short flow of ice at the base, into the cracks and then the big left leaning ice ramps.

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