Until 5 years ago, when I discovered what the Scottish Hills had to offer I never really knew Scottish Winter Climbing was a thing.
I hadn’t ever put much thought into the hills whereas now it’s always something I’m thinking about.
Just after New Year 2017 I gave Ben Lomond a go and I instantly got the bug, from there I swapped up drinking all weekend to heading out bagging the Scottish ‘Munro’s’. Loving challenging myself more whilst hill walking, I kept trying new things whenever I had the opportunity. Scrambling, Climbing, Kayaking and Wild Camping were all now common hobbies.
The following winter, Winter Climbing was my focus, on the run-up pieces of winter gear were finding their way into my online shopping baskets and I was researching routes and techniques. Not long after the climbing gear came I was given the opportunity to head to Glencoe for a Winter Climb and I couldn’t wait to get up there. I had my brand new ice axes, boots and cramp on’s ready for action. It was good to be getting out with people I could learn from and get into this epic sport with.
Freezing was an understatement which was definitely not a selling point but I absolutely loved it, the challenge was amazing and I was drawn to winter on the hills.
"Winter Climbing for me is the ultimate adventure, it’s a massive mental challenge as well as a physical one. Bringing yourself to persevere with the harsh conditions, freezing cold and quite a bit of waiting at belay ledges in between getting through some challenging climbing brings a feeling I’m unable to explain, a sort of buzz of accomplishment and gratefulness of life, a feeling that has kept me returning for more."
"One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced physically and mentally was leading my first technical route, I’d solo’d before on technical stuff as I struggled for a climbing partner but I’d never lead and set gear on a route. Leading on a route is where you climb first, setting the protection as your partner belays you. Leading the climb you have no assistance from the rope and the gear you set will protect you if you fall, so it is pretty nerve-racking when making difficult moves and setting the protection."
As you can imagine the cold harsh conditions and the duration of time my hands are close to the snow and ice by holding my ice axes is not great on my skin. Dry, cracked lips are very common after most days on the hills, dry skin on my face is also common and pretty uncomfortable. The biggest pain this winter was hacks on a few of my fingers due to the dryness and lack of elasticity in my skin, these took ages to heal and bothered me daily.
The Facial Barrier Cream with SPF50 is my favourite Helm Wind Outdoor Skincare Product as I suffer from really dry skin on my face which gets aggravated in the brutal conditions on the hill, so to have a nice hydrated face as well as a sun barrier to stop me getting burnt is a super bonus!