Euan and I headed up to Church Door Buttress in Glen Coe today to climb Crypt Route. This was in good condition with rime and powder, but with some verglas in the cracks. The route went very well for two and three quarter pitches until I encountered the “small hole” described in the Scottish Winter Climbs route description. After a considerable number of attempts in different orientations and with all gear removed and eventually stripped down to a thermal and thin fleece it became apparent I wasn’t getting through the hole. Thankfully, I’d led this pitch, so I retreated back to Euan using a number of small abseils to reduce the chances of the rope getting stuck in the through routes and chockstones. From the belay at the end of the second pitch we were able to abseil back to Central Gully in a single abseil.
For what it’s worth, it seemed to be a combination of shoulder width and chest depth that caused the problem in fitting through. It will obviously depend on how compressible your chest is and to some degree how long you are from shoulder to hip; but if you’re thinking of doing it and want a comparison I have a 40″ (102cm) chest and am 45″ (115cm) around the shoulders.
The climbing to this point was very good particularly the second pitch, so a bit disappointing to be defeated by my dimensions.