Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A Great Week on The Ben

The North East Buttress of Ben Nevis

Last week we had a fantastic time climbing and filming on Ben Nevis. By day we were running and climbing all over the mountain trying to keep up with Dave MacLeod and Andy Turner as they repeated all the Smith- Marshall routes from that famous week in 1960. By night we were capturing footage and editing clips on a wind powered laptop whilst drinking whisky!

The CIC Hut, our home for the week.

I’ve been back in Edinburgh now for a couple of days and I’m still amazed that we managed to pull it off and get all the routes climbed and more importantly to me, filmed well.

I'm still capturing footage from the week, but here's a video grab from each of the routes we filmed:

The Great Chimney (IV,5) 6th February 1960

Minus Three Gully (IV,5) 7th February 1960

Smith's Route (V,5) 8th February 1960

Observatory Buttress (V,4) 9th February 1960

Point Five Gully (V,5) 10th February 1960

Piggot's Route (V,6) 12th February 1960

Orion Direct (V,5) 13th February 1960

I have a lot of people to thank for the success of this project, it was a fantastic team:

Dave MacLeod - Climber

Dave MacLeod on Tower Ridge after climbing Great Chimney

As well as climbing all the routes, Dave was instrumental in the planning and logistics that went into this project.

Andy Turner - Climber

Andy enjoys getting the Hot Aches!

This was the first time I had worked with Andy and he was brilliant to work with. Climbing routes for camera requires a lot of waiting around and faffing; Andy's patience was wonderful. He also had to put up with me kicking snow on his head from above for the whole week.

Donald King – Mountain Guide

Donald King
Donald King did a superb job of looking after me and ensuring my safety on the mountain, rigging routes and getting me into some fantastic positions to shoot the climbing.

Guy Heaton – Cameraman

Guy Heaton getting the shot in comfort

Guy was my second cameraman on this shoot and he captured some beautiful long shots of the climbers from all angles. His work really illustrates what an amazing mountain Ben Nevis is.

Mike Pescod – Director of the Fort William Mountain Film Festival

Mike Pescod (Centre) on top of Point Five Gully

Mike is the director of the Fort William Mountain Festival, a driving force behind this project.

Lochaber Athletics Club

Three members of the Lochaber Athletics Club help Donald King (right) with some kit.

Thanks to all the members of the club who helped us over the week by running up to the hut to collect media and deliver supplies.

Paul Prentice - Mountain Boot Company

Paul Prentice from The Mountain Boot Company kitted out myself and Guy with nice new axes and crampons for the week.

Claire MacLeod - Website Support

Claire MacLeod filming one of her own productions

Thanks to Claire for her support and website work over the week.

Mountain Equipment - Major Sponsor

Finally, without the support of Mountain Equipment this project could not have happened at all. Richard Woodall, marketing Manager at ME, backed the project right from the start. Despite the risk that nothing might come of it because of adverse weather and climbing conditions he committed support from ME. I can remember him saying to me back in early January, “ok, it might be worth a punt!”.

The Week's Work

I’m going to craft all this footage into a film or films for release in the Autumn, just in time to get everyone psyched for the next winter season.


How many layers? Free DVD to the first correct answer!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Day 3 - Minus Three Gully

Day three of the Smith-Marshall Project and Dave and Andy climb Minus Three Gully.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Pigott's Route

Here is a clip of Dave Macleod and Andy Turner climbing Pigott's Route as part of the Smith-Marshall Week film project.

The Great Chimney - 50 years on

Those who knows anything about Scottish winter climbing will know the names Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith. Although their reputations as climbers spread well beyond what they did in this week 50 years ago , 6-13 February 1960 will forever be acknowledged as a significant time in the history of Scottish climbing.

As part of a commemorative event to mark the achievement, Hot Aches is working with the Fort William Mountain Festival to film Dave Macleod and Andy Turner repeating the adventures of Smith and Marshall. We will be filming and editing as we go. Below is a short clip of their ascent of the Great Chimney.

You will be able to see more footage from the week on the Ben at the Fort William Mountain Festival on Sunday 14th February, dubbed "Marshall / Smith night". Jimmy himself will be there. You can book tickets for the event online at:

Paul will also be giving a lecture at the Fort William Mountain Festival on Saturday 13th February. This is aptly titled "Climbers I've shot and some I'd like to shoot". Tickets for this can also be booked online at: