The Resurrection

Back in February 2015 we stood at the bottom of the towering northeast face of Sgurr Mor. Conditions were excellent and the weather good. 'The Resurrection' is a route of alpine proportions and character. It's aesthetically appealing line takes you up through over 300m of snow and ice in an almost direct line finishing on the very summit of the mountain, the highest in the area. I first heard of the route some years ago at a talk by Martin Moran and it has had a growing appeal to me as a seeker of the esoteric in mountaineering. The proposition it offers, that of height, remoteness, seriousness as well as the character alighted to above, is relatively unique in Scotland in such abundant proportions. It is absolutely the kind of route that I covet.

The Ressurection

That day the steep initial ice pitch repelled both my own and subsequently Russell's efforts and we were sent away to contemplate our failure. For what I could tell, on this occasion the mountain gods had not conspired against us as they so often do, the failure was all ours to bear. For my part, I just wasn't good enough. I didn't have the ability or the confidence to climb the steep ice before me. I knew I would be back, but I had work to do.

Dwarfed by the Face

Three years later, better equipped and more experienced we found ourselves facing the same icefall that had so easily repelled us. It was a similar day and the walk in certainly didn't feel any shorter, the initial icefall also didn't look any easier but after 3 years of stacking what odds I could, I was confident if not convinced.

On the Second Pitch (Photo: A. Mcsween)

I led on up and after a short steep pitch I was at a point I could get a decent ice screw belay in. There was still some technical ground before the central snowfield but I had found the pitch hard and stopped short to avoid exhausting myself for what would undoubtedly be an exhausting 300m above us. Russell climbed through the last of the lower difficulties and set up a precarious seated belay at the start of the first snowfield.

Linking the Lower and Upper Snowfields

the snowfield was long and we had to move together for some of it. I eventually managed a poor screw belay while Russell climbed through and continued up to the upper snow bay. the snow throughout was excellent. Perfect neve and while exhausting on the calves, a joy to climb. I once again led through and reached the summit headwall where we hoped to rest. Unsurprisingly there was no gear so I set up a belay with a deadman.

Before too long we were level again and after a short much needed break, Russell set off on the last glorious pitch placing an icescrew, a warthog and a bulldog before surmounting the thankfully uncorniced lip to the surprise of some walkers resting on the summit!

Setting off on the Final Pitch

He brought me up belaying from the large summit cairn, and I was met on the summit by incredible views of the sun swept North West highlands in their full winter glory.

The Summit of Sgurr Mor

A route that was worth the wait and provided a scale to measure my climbing progress over the last Three years. Always good to get a reminder that backing off and coming back better and stronger is not only often the best option in the interests of self-preservation, but it can be very rewarding too.


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