After hours of scrolling through guidebooks looking for summer routes that were waiting a winter ascent, Jamie and I stumbled across Mongoose Direct on Sgurr Mhic Choinnic. I was particularly keen to winter climb on Skye having spent much time there working in summer. Little did we know how sought after this route was.
On our first attempt we stumbled down to the bottom of the cliff with a few ideas in mind to find the striking corner of Mongoose Direct so appealing we were amazed it hadn’t been climbed in winter. It felt like a huge privilege to be able to turn up to a magnificent mountain crag and be able to have our pick of the finest line there! A patchwork of ice smears ran down the right-hand side of the lower corner, reminding me of the alpine route ‘Beyond Good and Evil’. Alas, it was not to be on this occasion as a blank verglassed slab stoped us in our tracks as night fell.
Later, while chatting to Callum we coincidentally found we had our eyes on the same route. At any other time we would have solved this dilemma by climbing in a 3 to allow us to all be part of the first winter ascent. Unfortunately, this went against the Covid guidelines at the time and Callum very graciously said he wouldn’t join us. (We owe Callum big time for this one!)
On a perfect weather day Jamie and I returned. Very sustained and a brilliant range of well protected winter climbing, from layback corner cracks to steep chalkstone chimneys, we were blown away by the time we got to the top. We agreed it was our best new winter route to date. We have since received messages from several others admitting they had either tried or had their eyes on the route too. It appeared we had got there just in time.
Mongoose Direct (winter) VIII 8 **** 195m
A brilliant and very sustained adventure taking the main corner feature up the centre of the cliff. In good conditions useful ice forms on the right wall of the corner. With a big rack it’s possible to link the first two pitches.
1. VII 8 25m
Tackle the steep layback crack for 25m to the first sloping shelf.
2. VII 7 20m
Continue by the corner line before crossing a thin slab on the left (made easier with snow and ice build up on the slab).
3. VII 8 40m
Climb the right wall of the corner by a steep crack. Move back left into the corner, which is followed to a ledge. Head across the ledge to an easier groove (Dawn Grooves) and climb this till 10m below the obvious overhung corner ahead and belay.
4. VIII 8 45m
Move up to the base of the corner and climb this with poor feet (crux) to a niche on the left (possible belay). Climb the overhanging chimney above on hero hooks to a big shelf below a chimney.
5. VII 7 50m
Climb the tight chimney to an overhang then traverse out left. Move up and right and climb the final awkward corner.
6. 15m. Easy scrabble to the top.