Highlights from the annual Darrans winter climbing meet which wrapped up over the weekend. Where some of the best ice conditions seen in recent years allowed for a number of great climbs to be completed.
The almost mythical ice lines Squealing (IV, 6+) and Stirling Moss (III, 5+) both recieved rare ascents. With Steve Fortune and Ben Dare making the 3rd ascent of Squealing, quickly followed by Graham Johnson, Matthias Kerkmann and Johan Maillol with the 4th ascent the following day. While Reg Measures and Alastair McDowell took advantage of the great ice conditions in the lower McPherson Cirque to complete the 3rd ascent of Stirling Moss. In addition to these noteable repeats several new lines were also climbed. The day after releasing the new winter guidebook the two authors, Alastair Walker and Steve Skelton, made sure it was soon in need of an update by climbing The Key (IV, 4+) on Mt McPherson. Steve Fortune and Ben Dare then followed up their ascent of Squealing with two new routes in the McPherson Cirque. The first, Crystal Ship (IV, 7) climbs a striking free standing ice pillar (WI5+) through the centre of the upper tier. While the second, Ether (III, 5+), follows a thinly iced groove angling up through the lower tier between Rabbit Run and Stirling Moss for five pitches. To cap off the first weekend of the meet, Alastair McDowell and Lincoln Quilliam climbed a new line in lower Cirque Creek, left of Mama Says It's Alright To Dream, up to the snow fields below Mt Crosscut. Final details still TBC.
Following some warm, and wet, weather mid-week things picked up again for the final weekend with a further two new routes being added. Steve Fortune teamed up with Reg Measures to climb a hard new single pitch mixed route near Homer Saddle. Canyonero (I, 6). While Ben Dare and Danny Murphy headed up into Cirque Creek and climbed a new ice line through the centre of the rock buttress to the right of Squealing. Na Fianna (IV, 4+). A big thanks has to go to Alastair Walker for all his hard work organising yet another succesful meet. And also for the big effort he put in with Steve Skelton to produce the new winter guidebook. Thanks guys!