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Winter Roundup: Routes Worth the Wait

Wayne Wallace on Center Drip (III WI3, 800′), Black Spider, Mt. Hood, Oregon. Wallace attempted this route 15 times over 17 years, finally making the first ascent on March 6 with Beau Corillo. A series of longstanding winter projects in Europe also were climbed in February and March. [Photo] Beau Corillo

Numerous significant winter routes have been established since our last winter roundup in the February 24, 2010 NewsWire. Many were longstanding projects, long overdue.

On February 21, Simon Frost and Dave Garry established Erazerhead (VIII 8) on Clogwyn Du in North Wales, a direct route on cliff center that had seen numerous attempts. Frost had long been eyeing the climb and was ecstatic to find the crag steeped in perfect winter conditions. The team pushed up the groove, through a difficult-to-protect bulge and steep crack climbing before hitting the upper slabs and a layback crack and connecting with Travesty, the Nick Bullock route that shares a high belay with Erazerhead. According to Frost, “the route required a steady approach, climbing inch by inch as the rock revealed the moves, all the time, moving further away from the gear.”

Simon Frost brings Dave Garry up Pitch 1 of Erazerhead (VIII 8), Clogwyn Du, North Wales. [Photo] Phil Dowthaite

Also in mid-February, after two previous attempts, Guy Robertson and Pete Macpherson climbed the first ascent of Super Rat (IX, 9), an 8-pitch direct route up the front face of Creag an Dubh Loch’s Central Gully Wall in Scotland’s Cairngorms. On their initial attempt in mid-January, Macpherson whipped off the third pitch, falling roughly 20 meters. A week later, they got an alpine start but were still caught by darkness halfway up Pitch 5. Their third try yielded enough rock to place protection and decent snow and ice to make the tenuous moves over frozen rock. Robertson called it “the ultimate winter route–long, remote, direct, super-sustained and technically quite difficult… the fact that it comes into condition once every two decades is just the icing on the cake; it doesn’t get any better than that.”

After two years of waiting for perfect conditions, Nikita Uboldi, Ean Barelli and Andrea Cairoli pulled off the first ascent of an icefall located deep in the Prosito mountain range in Canton Ticion, Switzerland. The team postholed and bushwhacked into the remote line on March 2 and completed La Piovra (WI6 M7 R A1, 230m) by nightfall. The new route has six bolts. Eager to climb more virgin icefalls in the area, the team also is “looking forward to the first repeat” of La Piovra by another team.

On March 6, Wayne Wallace and Beau Corillo completed the first ascent of Center Drip (III WI3, 800′) on the Black Spider, an east-facing buttress that leads to the summit snowfield of Mt. Hood. Though the climb is moderate in difficulty, Wallace had made 14 prior attempts, his first–February 1994–dating back more than 17 years. Until last month, poor conditions and poor weather, combined with limited climbing availability, shut down the understated Wallace, who said: “It felt really great to wrap up such a project.” Less than two weeks later, on March 19, Bill Amos and Dustin Fric established a new route just left of Center Drip. Fric-Amos (AI4) winds up ice, rock and snow gullies to the top of the cliff band.

Sources: Simon Frost, Wayne Wallace, Bill Amos, Dustin Fric,,,,

Dustin Fric nearing the top of the cliff band on Fric-Amos (AI4), Black Spider, Mt. Hood, Oregon. [Photo] Bill Amos