Neil Gresham
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Significant Ascents
Pink Panther, M10-, Kandersteg Switzerland
The modern style of bolted 'dry tooling' has opened new frontiers in mixed climbing. Rather than aiding your way up steep, barren rock to a suspended ice feature, you can make wild, gymnastic moves using axes and crampons as substitutes for hands and feet. But aesthetics in climbing are all important. The true mixed lines are the ones that use the rock as a key to access the ice rather than an excuse for pure technical difficulty. The ice finish on Pink Panther is a fitting climax to the show that goes on below.
Pink Panther, M10-
Harderline M9
Photo: Ian Parnell
The Tempest, M9, Glencoe, Scotland
(1st ascent)
The Tempest was born from the desire to bring a slice of the continental style of mixed climbing home to Scotland. I had gained so much enjoyment and learned so many new skills from the 'M' routes in Canada and Europe and I couldn't see why the UK shouldn't also benefit, providing no bolts are placed and that winter conditions prevail. Needless to say, there were critics, but the winds are changing in mixed climbing. The Tempest remains an exciting and fiercely technical challenge for the open-minded.
The Tempest, M9
The Tempest, M9
Photo: Cubby Images
Rise & Shine, WI 7, Kandersteg, Switzerland
(1st ascent)
The only difference between grade 6 and grade 7 ice routes is that 7's are more fragile and prone to collapse, and this is exactly what happened to me during my ascent of Rise and Shine. The column was so narrow that I could have got my arms round it, at the point when I was forced to leave the rock and transfer all my weight onto the ice. With a huge crack, I ended up riding a fifteen foot ice surf board and then scratching my way back up to finish the job, shaken but not stirred.
Rise & Shine, WI 7
Rise & Shine, WI 7
Photo: Ian Parnell
Tequila Stuntman WI 6+, Argentiere, France
(1st ascent)
New routes don't exactly fall in your lap in the most popular ice climbing area in the Alps. But at the commence of the winter season in 2000, a diverted water course caused a remarkable fragile cascade to form right next to the classic route, Nuit Blanche, on the Argentiere Glacier above Chamonix. It took a combination of Andy Parkin's wisdom and Dave Hesleden's skill to get us to the top of this 3 pitch climb, not to mention an epic walk-in (seeing as we sneaked up there the day before the ski lifts opened!) The name comes from a drinking game of Tim Emmett's that is considerably more intimidating than the route.
Tequila Stuntman, WI 6+
Rise & Shine, WI 7
Photo: Andy Parkin