Friday, 23 December 2016

"Triple H" or Trauma in Scottish Avalanche Accidents. Observations from 35 years

I thought I would set myself the task of looking at a map and trying to remember all the MRT avalanche accidents I had been at in Lochaber. It's a lot sadly and I am sure there are many others where injury occurred not recorded as avalanche incidents that the team attended. Some notable ones from the 50's to early 70's before my time I am aware of including one at "The V" above the end of the road at Clachaig (Fatal Asphyxia). Hamish and the team certainly dealt with many, and its fair to say the Glencoe MRT was one of the best prepared because Hamish had the team equipped with the first "Pieps" in the early 1970's. From its formation the team followed the best practise from alpine countries as can be seen in "The Mountain Rescue Handbook". Some involving the rescue team in the mid 1990's  were thought to be better forgotten as near misses. Three of these I was involved in. One on the BEM Coire na Tullaich, and two close ones in Great Gully which popped just after evacuating someone on a stretcher.

The incidents themselves remain as fresh as ever, as do the dilemmas and triage considerations. I wanted to dispel the myth that most Scottish avalanche victims are trauma victims. Although many are injured, many are potentially salvageable if found quickly and taken to the appropriate facility where potassium and biochemical markers can be taken and resuscitation continued. The fatal victims listed  are complete burials.  All other injured bar one stayed on surface. All this information is freely available via the SMC Journals from these years or SMR data and while there are personal notes of my own as reference, as an aside to these events no confidential data that is not already in the the public domain is listed. I make no pretence to being anything other than a witness as a youth or being just another shoveller. Cursed with a very good memory though. This changed when I did college and uni as a very late starter doing physiology and pharmacology wanting to be a doctor but getting told I was too old and wouldn't get a grant, so became one of the first Paramedics in the UK, a full BASICS member and also one of the founders of the Faculty of Pre Hospital Care RcS(Ed) and contributed on trauma in a mountain environment as well as to ICAR's early data on avalanche resuscitation

I often only recorded the events as an end of winter summary, although for injured patients I still have some trauma report forms from my Paramedic records. A person wanting to check this data's veracity will need to go the relevant SMC Journals or SMR records.
Avalanches also hurt - if they don't kill you!
  •  1974  Great Gully x 1 Fatal – Trauma
  •  1974 Gully right Broad Buttress BEM x 1 Fatal - Trauma
  •  1975 Crowberry Gully x 2 Injured
  •  1976  Below Carn Dearg Ben Nevis x 2 Fatal – Asphyxia
  •  1977 Great Gully x 1 Fatal - Trauma
  •  1978 Great Gully x 3 Injured
  •  1978 ScRL Twisting Gully x 2 Injured (Mal D on scene)
  •  1978 Lost Valley Rev Ted’s x 2 Injured
  •  1980 ScRL Twisting Gully x 1 Injured
  •  1982 Lost Valley x 1 injured
  •  1982 BEM Curved Ridge x 1 Injured #Leg
  •  1983 ScNB NW Gully x 2 Fatal – Trauma
  •  1983 ScNB NW Gully x 2 Fatal – Trauma
  •  1984 Sron a Creis – Cam Ghleann x 1 Injured (skiers)
  •  1984 No 6 Gully x 1 Injured #Femur
  •  1984 Easy Gully x 1 Fatal – Asphyxia/Hypothermia (Colin G)
  •  1984 Beinn Bhan (St Johns Church) x 1 Injured
  •  1984 Sron a Creise x 1 Fatal – Asphyxia
  •  1986 Central Gully Bidean x 1 Injured
  •  1988 Mamores Binnein More x 1 Injured
  •  1988 Lost Valley Rev Teds x 2 Injured
  •  1988 Aonach Dubh N. Face x 1 minor injury (Mick F after FA)
  •  1988 BEM Great Gully x 3 injured
  •  1991 Glas Bheinn Mhor South x 2 Injured
  •  1991 Gear Aonach Zig Zag – x 1 Injury (witnessed by Ronnie Rodgers and I)
  •  1991 Beinn Fhada L. Valley Boulder x 1 Fatal – Asphyxia/Trauma combo 
  •  1991 The Rognon x 3 injured Slab (witnessed Chalky, Pete and I)
  •  1991 ScRL x 1 Injured
  •  1993 ScNB NW Gully x 2 Fatal - Trauma
  •  1994 BEM West Face above Coire na Tullaich x 1 Fatal – Asphyxia
  •  1994 Water Slab x 1 Fatal – Trauma (Paul M and I)
  • 1995 BEM Coire na Tullaich x 3 Fatal -  Asphyxia x2 Hypothermia x 1
  • 1995 BEM Crowberry Gully x 1 Fatal – Trauma
  • 1995 BEM East Face/Ladies gully x 3 Fatal – Trauma
  • 1996 Coire na Tullaich Headwall x 3 Injured (Mark T Reported incident)
  • 1996 N Face Aonach Dubh/Dinner Time B x 1 Fatal – Trauma (Potter)
  • 1996 Central Gully Bidean x 1 Injured (JP Oban)
  • 1999 BEM Crowberry Basin x 2 Trauma (one deep burial dug out alive but with # Femur)
  • 2008 Crowberry Gully Basin x 2 Injured
  • 2009 BEM Coire na Tullaich x 3 Fatal -  Asphyxia
  • 2011 Cam Ghleann x 1 Fatal  - Asphyxia (ski)
1991 Above "The Rognon" near Hidden Gully x 3 injured Slab (witnessed Chalky, Pete and I)
Davy Gunn personal anecdotal observation from 69 victims and 26 Fatal Burials I attended is: 11 Asphyxia/Hypothermia (absence of any obvious fatal injury) and 15 Trauma so around 42% and 58% respectively. This does not pretend to be a scientific study only an observation based on my own experience from 1974 until leaving MR in 2009 and quite often as senior medic on scene. Much is made of the presence or absence of an air pocket and ice masks. I have not seen an ice mask and its nearly always very hard to determine if an air pocket is present. They are all alive unless there is an obvious fatal injury. "Not dead until warm and dead" as the old saying goes so resuscitate following the ICAR guideline and transport them all carefully as alive to the appropriate hospital.
42% Asphyxia/Hypothermia - 58% Trauma. Not science, very local but a start point for comment
I have over that time also attended many avalanche incidents as a ski patroller, some with full burials and some with injuries but due to early search, and companion rescue a much better outcome. Since 2009  I have attended quite a few incidents with ski patrol and these are on the increase as off piste and BackCountry/Free ride takes off.

So is it worth being searchable? It's certainly better than long burial. The "Old Fox" agree's

Hamish MacInnes author of "The International Mountain Rescue Handbook" on pic left

Sron a Creise 1984 Hamish on pic left
Post Script
The above is just a random project pondering 35 years of personal observation. Others may have very different observations. Combined with my own pondering, even if anecdotal, these form a hypothesis that others can take forward or rebut as they wish. I only put this out there because I am tired of reading or hearing that most folk die from trauma in Scottish avalanches as my observations locally are that this isn't totally accurate. The geography of other areas may be different, but Glencoe is pretty unforgiving terrain and if I have come across asphyxia/hypothermia victims here, then its not unreasonable to predict it might be similar elsewhere.

We are fortunate in having a local hospital where rewarming of avalanche victims has given them lots of experience in rewarming. The fact that they receive victims some of whom will have had ongoing resuscitation and try and rewarm them says that its not all trauma. I don't think so far anyone as met the criteria for onward transport to ECMO although I can think of some who would have in the past if ECMO had been around then. I think we need to be careful because up until now 99% of victims have been mountaineers. That's changing as folks escape the pistes into avalanche terrain and as a group companion rescue and consequence reduction decision making and tools such as ABS can give different outcomes and victims will be higher up the survival curve. 

I can't see it being possible to do any post mortem study on past avalanche events as my own experience is that even for local doctors its very difficult to get PM data. As a medic I had no legal right to access it, but on occasion at an FAI was privy to some information. Also all mountain deaths do not require a PM and so the data might not be there.

If folk are following the consensus guidelines then its easy to collate data as fatal injury will have been excluded and victims sent onward for rewarming either at a local hospital or from there to a rewarming centre. These are the "maybe alive" victims that deserve a chance. They are my 42%

In the end it's academic. I am pretty sure in all the main mountain areas where there have been avalanche victims there have been some who have died from asphyxia/hypothermia and if education and avoidance has failed then the future victims should get the same chance they had, or better using modern search tools, so the %  ratio doesn't really matter. My hypothesis stands that of the 40% or more some might be saved if searchable and found earlier. There are a few cases where all the stars nearly aligned and a remarkable outcome almost achieved, but medical confidentiality means I can't share them.

Worth a read:

March 2017 WEMSI New Guidance   (3.2. Trauma)

I am quite surprised at the interest this "back of a fag packet" process has stirred.  For me its just so I can stand and say that of 40% or so of folk if they were found earlier some might make it. It was just to stop the "whats the point of being searchable as it's the fall kills you" attitude, and seeing it creep into the Scottish skiing world. Mountaineers can do as they wish, but my main interest now is in keeping the skiers safe as education and companion rescue is more ingrained and positive in that sport and for climbing the key is seen as education and awareness. Education and awareness will not get you found if you happen to get it wrong. To err is human is the only reliable "human factor" in avalanche education.

Stay safe folks

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Avalanche Safety Kit

Zoom+ Box set is very good value for money at
£198 for the three essential items.
The 3+ Box set sets you up with the best tools.
No need to ever upgrade. £250 from me
Zoom+ £152 to my customers

Ortovox 3+ has good range and a "mark" feature
The 3+ has a good pinpoint search display. £198 to my customers

Let hope that's winter snow on the way at last.  If you need any avalanche safety kit I can do airbags, transceivers, shovels and probes as well as clothing and rucksacks from Ortovox.

Its a cut throat business as importers try and cut prices to keep trade while the strength of the pound makes getting the kit from Europe more expensive. I will not pretend I can compete with online companies that buy huge amounts and make it work on reduced margins by selling cheap and in volume.  I can't. But I try and get close. What I can offer is avalanche knowledge and practical "hands on" using the kit I sell in real rescues as well as training. The plus for customers is that I can offer some free training and advice if you buy from me. Advice is always free and I am happy to spend a little while on the hill showing you your transceiver and making sure you get the best out of it in the context of avoiding getting to that having been avalanched moment with the avy forecast and some knowledge. 

Click over image to view larger
I sell ARVA, BCA and Ortovox snow safety equipment.  I sell more of Ortovox now than other makes. The "smart antenna" technology of Ortovox transceivers (Beacons) is really good and I think makes a big difference. All new Ortovox beacons also have a Recco strip inside which is a nice extra.

The Zoom+ is a basic 3 antenna beacon and if your new and on a budget I can recommend the Zoom+ Safety set which has a good basic shovel and probe as well as info booklet on avalanches in the box.

I sell more of the Ortovox 3+ than any other beacon.  Its got an improved fine search and is a bit faster than the Zoom. It also has the "mark/flag" feature.  I recommend that folk learn how to search in a pattern before relying on this feature but the 3+ seems to mark well and as its limited to marking 3 victims the chance of signal overlap and overload is minimised. This is a good avalanche beacon. The safety set comes with a slightly better shovel with an extendable handle and a good 240pfa probe and all three in a box is cheaper. 

A really good shovel is the pro alu III as you can convert it to a hoe which in conveyor shovelling is the most effective way of clearing the snow from the point man. We cover this in avalanche training courses.

I personally have an S1+ which is the daddy of avalanche beacons. It has all the good features of the 3+ and a really good deep burial mode and a close proximity multi victim mode. The screen is big and its possible to see direction and distance to each victim as well as the strongest signal its locked into. The S1+  also has a longer range (about 15 metres longer) than other digital beacons. Its a good beacon for a professional guide or ski patrol.

The S1+ has a superior display and deep burial feature as well as close proximity multiple victims. £275 from me.

Monday, 19 December 2016

"we are all infinitely wise"

I am researching legal stuff on avalanches. Some mountain professionals are advertising and offering to investigate avalanche incidents independently. I wouldn't regard myself as being either qualified or desiring to take on such a burden as avalanches have provided me with enough drama and loss. However, its interesting to look back on precedent to satisfy my curiosity as to where these investigations lead. I have undertaken avalanche hazard evaluation for ski areas as part of prevention and rescue plans where foresight is needed, but post accident investigation makes me uneasy unless its low key and done as impartial data collection which I am sure the SAIS does discreetly.

Nothing inherently wrong with bringing information and closure to relatives or families by answering questions informally but when it comes to skiing litigation is rampant in all aspects of events. This is so unlike mountaineering where folk, families included accept shit happens. I worry that this would change. It set me thinking. If someone ends up making a case for a plaintiff who does act for the defence?  Expert testimony often cancels itself out in the courts nullifying itself. But damage to reputations and press reporting wrecks lives. I hope  its left to the rescuers, police or at worst an FAI to conclude cause and effect in these things. Hindsight

With time on my hands I am going back over my early texts, listening to my recordings from tutorials I undertook on avalanche and education from many of this generations experts, one who is my Recco mentor.  I am also enjoying re reading some classic books Andre Roch, Sleigman and Atwaters texts are still among the best on the subject and I have linked some abstracts from within the books to give a flavour. Getting these books nowadays is expensive and looking back at my library its a lot smaller. Like an eejit a few years back when a bit skint I sold loads of books to get a carbon race bike. I may have got £350 for "Extreme Rock" and the same for a book which I was able to get Ricardo Cassin to sign for me when I met him, but I sold my soul for a "thing" and wish I hadn't.

For an up to date take on the subject of avalanches Mark Diggins gave an excellent interview and I can recommend Secrets of the Snow by Chapelle

There is a lot on avalanche control and prevention as ski professionals which we would all do well to heed especially in ski rescue where public safety is a big part of the job.

Avalanches as weapons

Sunday, 18 December 2016

NW Gully Jan 1983

When you are looking through old yellow boxes of slides sometimes you come across all sorts of stuff that bring back memories of a day. I remember that day because in other pictures of it which I cant show I have on a pair of knitted wool finger less gloves Fiona had knitted for me which were cosy and warm. As a medic I could do stuff with them with some dexterity while not getting frostnip.

Learning point:
Pre SAIS forecasting. There was surface hoar on a shallow snow pack and light breeze. Rather a sad incident when two climbers on the shallow early snow pack triggered a slide that pulled them off. They must have been moving together on the easy upper ground near where NW gully comes out when they hit a deep slab that took them back into NW gully and to the bottom pitch. It buried them very deeply indeed in a terrain trap and they were found by a probe strike.

Take home point is that a shallow snow pack can allow a lot of vapour transfer and then surface hoar or faceting will occur readily. Then all it takes is a wee breeze to load a pocket on the exit of a gully or a crucial transit point to easy ground and then the consequences for a climber or climbers who will not a have a good run out are big - or in this case 2 x fatal.

 The "Gate" just visible behind and to the right of the blue hood up figure. SAR 137 on the way in with two others who survived, but were benighted up high above the release point. I had put the gate back up with rusty wire the previous summer. I bet its now grown over flat in the grass. Richard, Mike, Walter and Pete in picture. Hamish and John out of shot.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Niege et Avalanche

The best DVD you can get on basic snow science and avalanche. Even though an ANENA membre I still had to buy mine in France as they don't ship to the UK but its now possible to get it as a Vimeo download. I can't praise it enough as it touches all the bases.

SNOW AND AVALANCHES - Knowledge and Risk's Management from ANENA - CANOPÉ on Vimeo.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Recco's at Nevis Range

I have just done a training session on the R9 for Nevis Range Ski Patrol. What a great and positive bunch of folk. The NR ticket office are selling reflectors and I recommend two, on opposing sides and top and bottom. It's always worth being more searchable.

Recco - another important part of the organised rescue strategy. Education and avalanche avoidance is primary, being found early by companions if it goes wrong is vital and prior practise makes this work. Organised rescue requires a triple response when companion recovery fails: Dogs, Recco and Probe Lines. Until recently Scotland has only been able to apply two of the three, unlike alpine rescue avalanche search where for years all three have been used as an all in approach. Survival is time critical. So it's really good that Nevis Range Ski Patrol are now equipped with a detector and for folk wanting the additional security to the three essentials they can buy Recco reflectors at the ticket office. Mountaineers in Scotland don't tend to carry the three essentials and education may well be the key, but it doesn't seem to change the fact that most fatalities are for mountaineers, often multiple burials in terrain traps and perhaps being searchable might just save a life or return someone remains to their loved ones for closure that much quicker even if sadly too late.  gives a fairly common sense approach. But errāre hūmānum es

Much has been made of trauma being the main factor in poor survival in Scottish avalanches. I have heard it punted often and its refered to in places like UK Climbing. Sometimes this is from professional mountaineers and even rescuers. Without any study from this country (Scotland) we can only apply the data from European studies and that indicates that 73% of deaths are from asphyxiation, 25% Trauma and 2% Hypothermia. Studies per country for example the USA are not dissimilar (see pic below) and several published studies support the notion that we can most likely say its most likely the same ratios apply in Scotland. Its also worth speaking to the rescuers who were on scene at some of the major Scottish avalanches, and while only anecdotal it lends support that the pattern is the same here. One catastrophic event in one Glen can easily overwhelm, but things need looked at over a long period and from all areas to make conclusions and avoid post incident bias from any one event where avalanche and trauma combine. This becomes especially important looking to the future as the victim base changes from primarily mountaineers to skiers who are now in ever increasing numbers skiing "Backcountry Freeride/Touring" and "Splitboarding".

To reiterate: Opinion from some might lead the public to believe that trauma is the main killer in Scottish avalanches. This is not backed up by evidence and may in fact be dangerous as it allows those hearing it to anchor to the precept that "being searchable" and carrying companion rescue equipment is pointless as its not the asphyxia, it's going to be trauma that kills you. This is dangerously misleading in my opinion. Trauma may well be a contributing factor on the time continuum of survival, and in some cases due to the unique nature of Scottish winter climbing Scotland may have some more pure trauma deaths from avalanche but that's not the whole story and the recreational demographic is changing.

So, its not a given from Scottish data collection (scope for a project for someone) and even if the odds are higher for injury, then unless folk are searchable victims who could be saved from asphyxia will continue to be lost under the snow until its too late. It's also incumbent for folk in avalanche education to give a broader picture as most ski students on an avalanche class will also be going abroad. My own experience is that its a trip to an unfamiliar country or wish to explore more off piste at an alpine resort that triggers folk taking an avalanche class as much as it is wanting to be aware of the Scottish conditions. We need to continue to give the bigger picture.

Further reading should include: 

Causes of death from avalancheBrugger HEtter HJBoyd JFalk M. 

Cause of death in avalanche fatalitiesMcIntosh SEGrissom CKOlivares CRKim HSTremper B.

USA figures are not too dissimilar to Europe but World studies and the numbers involved are much larger.

Some Scottish MR teams already have Recco as part of their search strategy (Tayside, Glencoe, Cairngorm MRT/Ski Patrol) and Nevis Range, Glencoe Ski Patrol's. A good thing. I can imagine nothing worse than a victim recovery delayed because a search team did not have a detector and the victim is found to have either a Recco reflector or a harmonic on them.

Every avalanche professional including Recco, and the clothing manufacturers, endorse the view that not getting avalanched, through education and training is better than needing any search devices which may be too late. However, in the real world shit still happens and unless someone is "searchable" a rescuer cannot find them readily, even if the poor victim has bottomed out of the survival curve. We should not forget Robert Burnett's remarkable 22 hour survival in the Southern Cairngorms or the survivors at Nevis Range ski area who were buried for 18 hours.

All victims surely deserve the benefit of the doubt and rescuers throwing all resources at an attempt for a live recovery.
Small sticky reflectors that can be attached to boots or helmets and are available at Nevis Range
As "off piste" and "Back Country" skiing grows in popularity there is every reason to imagine that being more searchable can save lives. Nothing can replace education and prevention, or fast effective companion rescue with beacon, shovel and probe, but as ski patrol and MR teams take up Recco, and the reflectors can be bought and carried, then the chance of getting found alive by organised rescue if on scene quickly increases. I would recommend two reflectors to mountaineers, One front top and one back bottom.

So Recco is here in Scotland and its great to see the take up by some enlightened Scottish rescuers adopting alpine best practise. Who knows when Recco will save a life, but if it does it's job then its been  money well spent.
Live recovery of a victim located by her Recco reflector  from 1.5m winter 2016

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Black Swan

I am reading a philosophy book. I like philosophy and it runs in the family. This particular book was one highly recommended to folk working in avalanche education which I do a little. Much is currently made of the human thinking traps with heuristics being the topic in vogue among professionals. Clearly there are thinking traps. And if we are aware of them maybe we can change our actions. 20:20 hindsight it's easy to see the mistakes. Thinking forward is not so easy. Do we only learn backwards...............

"Before the discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence. The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few ornithologists (and others extremely concerned with the colouring of birds), but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It illustrates a severe limitation to our learning from observations or experience and the fragility of our knowledge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millenia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single (and, I am told, quite ugly) black bird" 

We humans have a bias for the anecdotal rather than empirical and as the book above challenges, even empirical data can be wrong. But, in science its all about proof and the requires research and if its from more than one source then these empirical "black swans" are less likely as we increase certainty. Everything including travelling in avalanche terrain is managing uncertainty. As the cause of death in avalanches is researched by many alpine nations there is a lot of good data to support the statistic that folk mostly die because they either cant breath, or what they are breathing is not rich in oxygen.

I wouldn't say the book is to every body's taste but much like "Thinking Fast- Thinking Slow" and "Managing Risk in Extreme Environments" and even "The Checklist Manifesto" it's another take on how we think and how we learn from our mistakes. If we learn from our mistakes? may well be the take home from the above book, as when we change how we think with hindsight, we maybe just move the uncertainty somewhere else. You probably need a good strong hash cookie with your' coffee for this book.

I have re bought an old favourite book which is one of the few that rivalled "The Avalanche Enigma" it's called "The Avalanche Hunters". I am enjoying going back to these old books and realising that our knowledge of the subject has not had a quantum leap and these old tomes still teach lots. These books were all important to me as way back early to mid 1970's there was little formal training. We were fortunate in GMRT that Hamish was well connected and brought folk across to run training from Europe, and as early adopters had the first transceivers, but on understanding the subject a lot of self learning was needed.

I reflect back and realise we never really applied much of it to ourselves and skied off piste with total bravado ignoring things that happened to other people. Skiing back to Verbier off piste with Fiona's dad and a group after coming off Mont Gele, then the group of three strangers behind gets killed later is just one example, and it horrifies me to look back at the sheer stupidity and randomness. As we were with friends in a group it was total group think and feeling safety in numbers. Another example in Switzerland was saying nothing when Fiona skied the back route down to Rougment off the Videmannette with a high risk with Roger and then getting lost in the dark. These were mere tasters to ducking the ropes later trips and bollockings from pisteurs. One time they even stopped the cable car above us as we ducked into a 45deg horror fest. As on ski patrol now, I would arrest myself! These trips were not package tours but often two or three week stays in Chalets of lifelong friends of Fiona's parents so the skiing was pretty immersive and full on with a lot of group bravado. All bad stuff in avalanche terrain.

I often wondered if it was MR that made me interested in the subject but looking back its the sum of lots of parts that all add up, and ski near misses and realisation that your were an ignorant fool - that's probably the biggest one!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Stac an Eich - Creagallen Update

I had a wander up to the crag today and despite it looking impassable over the wind blow, there is a really easy route around the tree's.  All the routes are surprisingly clean, even Autan and although I didn't go up round the corner to the easier right hand routes they looked doable from below. Hard to believe there could be 4 to 8 folk climbing on here on a regular basis and quite a social with a fire at the bottom under the overhang - sometimes with beers. 

Makes me keen again. But I sold all my gear 4 years ago when I hurt my back and thought that was it as I had to learn to walk. Now back climbing again and getting into it I went and looked at ropes and making up a rack. It's not going to happen at the prices in Fort William so the good old days of soloing will have to return, but not on these routes as too steep and nippy.

Nice easy walk from the memorial cairn sign up behind the spruce then along below a wee crag
The wee crag looks like some one has climbed a  route which looks nippy but nice
Left line is "Autan" and the middle one shows "Shuttlecock" pitch 2 up onto the block then the airy step out. Also shows the escape route from the belay to the fixed gear. Two other routes arrive at that belay the best of which is Murray Hamiltons 6b which starts in the recess below Shuttlecock and goes up to the spike that isn't into the crack that kind of is. Ferocious!
Looking across to the upper dihedral of Shuttlecock to the top of the 1st belay. There is an alternative 5b start up and through the twisted tree shown but the best start is from the bottom on the flat bit and up into the corner as the gear is better and the hold good despite how it looks.
Left is one of Gary Latters 6b's and right is "Bill's Diggers Fucked" by Cubby. There is a story to the route name but not for on here! This route is ferocious so you have been warned although there is gear!
The central corner of "Marathon" which even the legendary Joe Brown climbed with me once. He led! Joe was a regular visitor to the area often with Mo Anthoine. Either working on film projects with Hamish (Spacewalk/Freakout live OB) or just climbing with Paul Moore's or Ian. He was still leading E4 6a at 60+ and the above corner was a piece of piss to him. I have done it many times (Fiona was a first ascensionist after Ed led it) and the gear is really good. It's a bit thrutchy and the top move left requires agility and it can also be done direct on finger jams. E1 5b if you climb on grit and E2 5c if you haven't. The slab on the left was climbed by Mark Macgowan (Face) and pokey. On the right is Gunnslinger. The lower off is a big block that you drop a sling over and at one point I may have held it a bit and pulled on it!
Looking at the short but brutal Gunnshot or is it Monument (at least I think its called that?)
Autan on the left and showing where Murray's 6b goes. There are 3 more E4 6b/c to the right of these between Murrays route and Bills Digger but I don't remember their names although I am sure they are in some sort of guide to highland outcrops or maybe even the Glencoe guide. I have no guidebooks having once sold them all for bike gear.