Scotland’s Hardest Winter Route: First Repeat Falls to Filip Babicz

Bring da Ruckus, a fiendishly difficult XII 13 two-pitch winter route on Lochnagar’s Shadow Buttress, hasn’t been around all that long. Greg Boswell made the first ascent on Jan. 12 after he “walked into Lochnagar without any real plan,” according to an Instagram post.

But Polish climber Filip Babicz certainly had a plan when he showed up, and that plan was to repeat Boswell’s feat. Pretty ambitious for someone who’s never climbed in Scotland, but Babicz stuck the landing in a big way on Feb. 22.

“After a failed ground-up attempt and subsequent inspections from the top, the ascent was done in a clean headpoint style, placing all gear on the lead,” the climber wrote on Instagram.


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A post shared by Filip Babicz (@filipbabicz)

Welcome to Scotland

According to his post, Babicz had difficulty finding suitable climbing conditions (“Welcome to Scotland!” he observed) but still finished the job as dark and snowy weather descended. Luckily Babicz and partner Dawid Skoczylas had already sent the crux pitch before the weather got gnarly.

Speaking of the crux, it proved just as challenging for Babicz as it did for Boswell earlier in the year. In another post, Babicz painted a hair-raising picture of ice and icicle-filled cracks and poor opportunities for protection.

“By climbing the crux, I was poorly protected with a risk of a huge fall that would have ended on the wall below,” he wrote. “Also, in the upper part of the pitch, I couldn’t place a [cam] due to the ice and I made a big runout up to the anchor.”


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A post shared by Filip Babicz (@filipbabicz)

Babicz took a moment to acknowledge Boswell’s trail blazing, saying “your confidence to face the headwall I find truly incredible and your winter CV is impressive!”

Impressive indeed. In his description of the climb, Boswell mentions “swinging through the roof on blind, scrittley pick placements,” and “a painstaking battle, including the last move, which I very nearly messed up. A final sting in the tail!”

Kudos to Babicz for making such a swift repeat, and double kudos to Boswell for pushing Scottish winter routes into a new stratosphere of difficulty in the first place.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
You can find more of his work at, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).