When you go out with Donald you're in for an adventure. He has wanted to climb Engineer's Crack on Crowberry Tower of Buachaille Etive Mor for many years. We climbed it in summer about 12 years ago at E1,5b but it rarely gets well enough rimed up for a winter ascent. With cold easterly winds blowing onto this side of Buachaille Etive Mor for a week the crags were whiter than we've ever seen before so we went up nice and early to try the climb before the bad weather came in.
It all worked out very well and the climb is brilliant in winter. Donald led the main pitch which gave sustained, thin climbing with a couple of crux sections. He fell off the step right but got straight back on to finish the pitch leaving me with a short much easier pitch to finish. As ever it's difficult to put a grade on it but it felt like a VIII overall. More importantly, it was a brilliant bit of climbing, a fantastic day out and I'm delighted I was able to spend such a good day out with my best buddy. Lots of snow is falling now and the avalanche hazard is high so take care.
Congratulations to both and thanks to Mike for the words and images. Mike operates Fort William-based Abacus Mountaineering, providing skills training and mountain guiding in Scotland and the Alps. The original version of this article is available here.