The Scottish Highlands form one of the world's exceptional climbing areas. During the winter season, these mountains are transformed by the elements into a ferocious arena in which only the skilled and determined will prevail. In this two-part LEGEND photo essay, photographer Ian Parnell offers a personal glimpse of the magic of Scottish winter climbing.
Full conditions on Footloose (VII,8) on Lochnagar in the Cairngorms
Sunrise on Beinn Eighe, Torridon
The Needle (VIII,8) on Shelterstone in the heart of the Cairngorms
“How can I number the worlds to which the eye gives me entry? The world of light, of colour, of shape, of shadow: of mathematical precision in the snowflake, the ice formation, the quartz crystal, the fluid curve and plunging line of the mountain faces. Why some blocks of stone, hacked into violent and tortured shapes, should so profoundly tranquillise the mind I do not know. Perhaps the eye imposes its own rhythm on what is only a confusion: one has to look creatively to see this mass of rock as beauty"
- Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland
A torquing pitch on Central Buttress (VII,8), Stob Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe
The approach to Lochnagar in the Cairngorms
The notorious testpiece Savage Slit (V,6) in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms
Climbing gear takes a lot of punishment during Scottish winter adventures
Technical mixed climbing on Link Direct (VIII,7) on Lochnagar in the Cairngorms
Hoar frost is a vital ingredient in Scottish winter climbing, providing the much sought-after 'full conditions'
The approach to the Cliffs of Stoerr on the Isle of Skye
Fall Out Corner (VI,7) in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms
Climbers enjoying perfect winter conditions on Central Buttress, Beinn Eighe, Torridon
The winter wonderland of the Loch Avon Basin in the heart of the Cairngorms
"Simply to look on a mountain is to widen the domain of being in the vastness of non-being"
- Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain
Climbers on Blue Pillar (V,6) on Meall Gorm, Applecross, North West Scotland