Pageviews past week

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our History?

"In one legendary week on Ben Nevis in 1960 Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith climbed six first winter ascents on consecutive days, including the mini Alpine-route, Orion Face Direct. They also made the first one-day winter ascent of Point Five Gully, went for a long walk and got arrested over an incident with some dominoes! Exactly 50 years later Dave MacLeod and Andy Turner pay tribute to Smith and Marshall by setting out to repeat all the routes that were climbed in that famous week. This film tells the story of the original events and follows MacLeod and Turner as they discover exactly what an achievement it was."

For those that think Chouinard, Jeff Lowe or Will Gadd invented ice climbing or modern mixed climbing you might want to look further. Tools and clothing have changed to make climbing easier but the beginning of our sport can certainly be traced in part to Scotland. Jimmy Marshal and Robbin Smith weren't the first obviously but they are part of the foundation. Curved tools and Terrordactyls came later and then the Chacal. But the original difficult routes in Scotland and the Alps were often done with a straight axe, a good wool coat and hob nail boots. Hard for most of us to even remotely relate to that beginning. Few could or would suffer through just how miserable and difficult it really was.

The story is well told by the Jimmy Marshal in person and the modern climbers, who 50 years later repeated the same classic Marshal/Robbins winter climbs. But there was no way to duplicate the original experience.

I offer a humble bow to Marshal and Smith for the effort.
7 climbs in 8 days! Conditions much have been in :)

The Great Chimney (IV,5) 6th February 1960
Minus Three Gully (IV,5) 7th February 1960
Smith's Route (V,5) 8th February 1960
Observatory Buttress (V,4) 9th February 1960
Point Five Gully (V,5) 10th February 1960
Piggot's Route (V,6) 12th February 1960
Orion Direct (V,5) 13th February 1960

The film can be ordered here:

I've posted about this before but now the entire film is available and there are a number of teasers on you-tube as well.

This final bit isn't from the the original '60s climbs but a good look at what hard modern mixed in Scotland is today. Enjoy!


Steve Barratt said...

Dane, any comment on whether you're going to be producing those alloy ice clippers this season?

Dane said...

Hi Stephan,

We might be able to get some done late winter. But no promises. Right now we are maxed out trying to get the picks and hammers done we have committed to.

Nothing ever goes as smoothly or as quickly as I'd like.

Thanks for asking though!