He is considered one of Scotland's most talented and prolific climbers who has pushed standards in Scottish winter climbing season after season for a number of years. 

Now Greg Boswell has broken new ground by completing the very first ascent of a route which is being heralded as the hardest winter climb in Scotland.

The 32-year-old Oban native climbed “Bring da Ruckus" in Lochnagar in the southern Cairngorms, giving it a proposed XII 13 grade, the most severe grade any climb in Scotland has ever been assigned.

One of Scotland’s most accomplished rock and ice climbers, Boswell started climbing in 2004 at the age of 13 and has travelled all over the globe seeking out and climb the world’s hardest ‘mixed’ (a combination of ice climbing and rock climbing) routes.

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His Herculean effort to complete the ground-up, single-day first ascent of the route on what is a remote crag in the Highlands has been widely celebrated among the climbing community both in his native Scotland and beyond. 

He told The Herald: “It was really cool to get on something of that difficulty and terrain in Scotland. A lot of climbs like this get done abroad but they use bolts to protect it so they will drill bolts into the rock and they’ll clip those bolts, so it’s super safe and they’ll maybe do that from the top down so they know exactly what they are going to be climbing when they get on it. 

“But the strong ethics in Scotland are that you climb from the ground up, a very adventurous style, you come across the difficulties when you come across them, you don’t previously inspect it, that kind of thing. It’s pretty interesting to find and get up something like that in the Scottish mountains.”

HeraldScotland: Greg Boswell is one of Scotland's most accomplished winter climbersGreg Boswell is one of Scotland's most accomplished winter climbers (Image: Hamish Frost)

After one of his ice axes got stuck on the first attempt and he then had to admit defeat after “burning out” on his second attempt due to the sheer difficulty of the climb, Boswell managed to successfully breach the route on his third attempt, although he admitted that even then he “nearly came off” a few times. 

He said: “I had a big rest at the bottom then I went for a third and final go fully expecting not to get it, just to have a go and maybe take all the equipment out and come back another day. I managed to get through the roof onto what we call a headwall, which is a steep wall above it, but on this climb it wasn’t over at all, I very nearly came off a few times on the headwall due to snowy conditions and the difficulty of the climbing. It’s not remotely as steep but it gets very technical on the top headwall, which is hard to combat when you are tired after three attempts and when you’ve already climbed through that big roof.”

The feat is made even more impressive given that his decision to attempt the ascent was a “spur of the moment thing” on the day itself, having originally planned for it to be a “long-term project”. 

He said: “On the day itself it was a spur of the moment thing but I knew about this buttress and this route previously. A friend had mentioned it to me, a local to Aberdeenshire. I’ve just moved to this area, I’d been focusing on the west of Scotland. I’ve climbed in this area before but having moved here it’s really nice having this area on my doorstep so this is kind of why this season I wanted to have a look at this route. 

“It’s really good having something really hard on your doorstep although I didn’t think I’d do it on the first day. I thought it would be like opening a bit of a long-term project and I managed to succeed on one final, third attempt of the day.”

Boswell graded it as “pretty much the hardest graded route in Scotland” as a XII 13 grade route, and  while he was keen to stress that “these things are proposed grades”, which require “others to try them as well to level things out a bit”, he does believe that, having climbed “pretty much every other route up to this level in Scotland”, he possesses a “pretty good base theory”. 

And while he admitted he is still feeling tired five days on from his incredible feat, Boswell, as a full-time professional climber, already has “big plans” for the week ahead.

He said: “I’m recovering. I went out again on Sunday, two days after it but I was just going into the mountains to be with my friend on a climb. It was nice to get out there, but I definitely felt tired and glad I wasn’t climbing that day. I feel tired now but I’ve got big plans again for Thursday so hopefully that’ll come off soon and the really good weather that’s in Scotland at the moment, good for us but bad for everyone else, the stormy, snowy weather, there should be lots to do this winter in Scotland. At the moment I’m climbing full-time this winter so its good for me to get out as much as possible.”