5 almost done, 278 to go.

10 08 2010

Dates are lost on me as it seems so long ago, however over a couple of weekends, Eric and i managed to get some time on Skye and Glen Coe. Skye first. Eric and I headed off to stay overnight with the Paisley Hillwalking Club at a lovely wee bothy north of Slig (well north and I’ve forgotten the name of it but it had a lovely wee pub next to it with a pool table and some nice climbing pictures on the wall). First off was pinnacle ridge. Had done it before and was looking forward to the great fun abseil at the end. 

Eric on the ab

Weather was fine and the walk in is very easy with great views on the bastier tooth. The route is pretty obvious from below and a “path” of rhyolite points the way to the base of the first main difficulties. The climbing is no more than moderate, but it is just fabulous. The views and the situation are wonderful. Moving quickly unroped, we made good progress and as if to reward us on our optimism, the weather improved dramatically as the day went by. Not much to add with regard to route description, as you just follow the ridge and look for the most difficult option as you go. Before too long, you will find yourself at the abseil, marked very clearly with a pile of tat to attach the rope to. The minor difficulty here is that the abseil point is below the point at which you lower yourself off, so an interesting leap of faith is required. Once down onto the ledge – almost a full ab on a 50m rope, you simply follow the ledge around and move upwards towards the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean – or almost the summit! 

Time for a wee stop for some lunch and some photographs before we descend. 

Lunch spot almost at the top!Eric almost at the top.

The intention was to go down West Ridge, but for some reason, it went a bit Pete Tong. I think we ended up trying to go down Deep Chimney, which in itself should not be a problem, however, we opted for the abseil thing, chucked the rope down and flew down to the scree. Unfortunately the rope jammed, solid. We looked for routes back up to free the rope – I wasnt leaving it! – but we got nowhere. it was at this point that I remembered my tiblocs which I had carried about for years but never used. tblocs are self arresting devices which allow upward movement but bite into the rope to prevent you slipping back down. With a couple of screwgates and my tbloc, i set of up the rope, anticipating a hard slog, i was amazed at how quickly i made it to the top. “If only Joe Simpson had had two of these” I thought. I loosened the rope and jumped back off again making sure the rope didn’t move on the way down. It didn’t, we pulled it in and packed up and headed off. Another Munro not ticked!
Next day, we planned to do the Blaven- Clach Glas traverse and avoid getting to the top of Blaven. When we got to the car park the weather was again starting to clear as we headed up the path. What a horrible slog!

Clach Glas and Bla Bheinn (the clue is in the name!)

 On the way up, just as I was complaining as i always do about how horrible a walk this was, we bumped into 3 guys who were out for the day and quite obviously not entirely seasoned walkers or climbers. We stopped and chatted “This is THE best walk I have ever done” announced one of them. Eric looked at me and smirked. I said nothing, after all, im no judge of a “good walk”. 

Pretty soon, we were almost at the top. The summit was audibly obvious to us by the party of walkers popping champagne corks and hooching and cheering. Eric headed on up as i sat down to my sandwiches. He came back down after congratulating the young lady who had just completed her final Munro. We headed back down looking for the start of the traverse. We looked and we looked, Kennys words ringing in our ears about it being difficult to find the start from this direction. We were just about to give up when Eric got out his altimeter, I read the route description – back to front – which said “Ascend this leftwards to a cairn at a saddle on the east ridge (795m) where the difficulties cease”. Eric says “We are at 795m”. We turned around and there was the cairn. We started to make our way down the scree and the further we went the more dubious it looked. Just at the point where I was sure we were in the wrong place, I noticed the giveaway crampon marks on the rock. We followed them round and over onto a ledge from where a corner dropped away below. It looked steep. It looked very steep, but it was quite obviously the way down (up). We decided against it. As we walked of rueing our decision to traverse from Blaven to Clach Glas, we realised why it is called the Clach Glas to Bla Bheinn travers. 

Next time! 

Aonach Eagach via A’Chailleach 

We headed up to Glen Coe with the intention of doing most of the Aggy ridge and taking in the scramble up A’Chailleach which is shown on the cover of the Scrambling Guide to Glen Coe – a great picture of the exposed pitch looking out towards the Buchaille and well worth a visit. 

A great wee scramble pitch.

The route is mostly broken outcrops interspersed by grassy ledges and each “difficulty” can be easily turned. The rock was running with water when we started and by the time we got to the main area of scrambling interest (shown opposite) the sky had almost cleared and the rock was drying off.
Eric headed up the crack pitch as I took some pictures and noted some potential climbing routes on this wee outcrop. I followed him soon after and the scenery and situation was outstanding for such an easy route. Well worth the walk just to try it.
At the top of the crag, we walked of in the direction of the Aggy ridge.
From what I can remember, the rest of the day was rather uneventful with the ridge offering some enjoyable easy scrambling and walking. We got halfway along the ridge, I avoided the first summit and we plodded back.

Eric looking towards the Aggy Ridge

Next stop is Ben Nevis this weekend. Planning on N E Buttress and down Tower Ridge, and along the way, avoiding the summit somehow?? 

Mmmmmm??  

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