A wild day on Resurrection Sgurr Mor – The Fannichs a long time ago but the memories are still there.

Sgurr Mor – SMC Munro App

Many years ago in 1984 after I had just come back from a wonderful month ice climbing in Canada. I was with my mate Mark Sinclair “ Cheeky” he invited me out on what he said was a “wee route called Resurrection. It was on the Fannichs biggest hill Sgurr Mor. We had re read the magnificent Cold Climbs and the out of the way ice routes in the North West always had my attention. The Fannichs are only an hour and a half drive from my Base at Kinloss in Morayshire. Mark and myself were always in for an early start and we left at 0400 and started the walk in at 0600. The forecast was good and there was a road that supported the hydro for a few miles walking mins in neutral before we hit the open moor. We were pretty fit Mark a bit ahead and me with my new tape recorder playing in the earphones. As the daylight came the East Face looked huge. There was large amount of debris in the Coire floor but the snow was frozen. To me it looked a very intimidating face and we only had the photo from Cold Climbs as a guide. Mark was never put off and started climbing as quickly as he could.

In these days it was not climbed that often it’s a bit of a walk in and away from the madding crowds. Yet it’s position and finishing on the summit of Sgurr Mor made it of great interest to me. Mark said it was a three star Grade 3 but had an Alpine feel to it. He talked me into it and what a day we had. I found it very scary at that time not great belays. It’s an open face with an interesting icicle start. I was climbing well for me at that time and Mark had said it was like the Brenva Face on the Ben. It was alpine once on the route but we hit some soft snow in the middle of the route. This is normally the easiest part but I had kept a few warthogs that I got in on the grass that made me feel happier. Nowadays gear is so much better. Mark had said we would not need them but I had a couple and one is still hopefully there battered into a crack and we could not get it out.

Resurrection from Cold Climbs -big cornices can be on the final pitch. This was our guide.

Mark was such a talented climber always in control and as he said we have to keep going think of the view. I was thinking of the Corrie floor at the time. We made it to the top and sat in the sun, no wind and the whole of Scotland on view. Mark said “ right it’s the Geala buttress next time wee man”but that’s another story.

In Cold climbs it was graded 5 but mark said his mates reckoned it would be good a three. Anyway what a day I unfortunately never got any photos I think Mark did. Sadly I never got to see them as Mark and Neil were killed on Lochnagar and are sadly missed. I will never forget that final traverse below the huge cornice looking for a break in it. Mark’s grinning face oozing confidence at every belay making me laugh as well despite the situation.

The old wart hog ice screw great in turf !

Resurrection- East Face of Sgurr Mor A three star route at Grade 3. UKC “A bold face route in a remote situation.” 1500 feet. First ascent J.MacKenzie and D. Butterfield March 1980

I was on Sgurr Mor as my last day I had on the hill late last year. I was sitting on my own no one was about and looking at the climbing on the Geala Buttress. My thoughts went back to that day with Mark. A runner stopped and we had great chat he had climbed here many years ago in winter. We chatted for a while and I left watching him running well onto the other Munro’s. These hills are magical like so many memories. Who needs photos?

Reference – Cold Climbs & SMC Northern Highlands Central. The essay in Cold Climbs is a great ead. Photo – Cornices on Sgurr Mor the Fannichs P.Greening to me a classic photo.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Ice climbing Canada, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A wild day on Resurrection Sgurr Mor – The Fannichs a long time ago but the memories are still there.

  1. Cameron Roy says:

    Hi Heavy,

    I am a reporter with the Press and Journal. Would you be interested in chatting with me about your life and experiences mountaineering for a story?

    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

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