In advance of my WML assessment I’ve been up in Scotland doing a spot of winter climbing and some other interesting stuff. These past few days I’ve been lucky enough to have been treated to the best winter weather I’ve ever had in Scotland, crisp, clear and windless day are rare for a place not known for kind weather so I tried to make the most of it. For the beginning of the week I chose the Glencoe area with its great scenery and history of mountain exploit’s. My base was the Glencoe Independant bunkhouse giving easy access to the biggest and most well known of the surrounding mountains. After an exploratory day out testing the snow conditions above the ski center on Monday, Come Tuesday I thought it was time for a climb. My choice for the day was a climb I looked at last February called the Dorsal Arete on the N Face of Stob Coire nan Lochan. The walk in is fairly steep and continuous and certainly warms you up ready for the real climbing. After entering the Coire I walked up to the entrance of Broad Gully were the climb begins and put on my equipment. The start of the climb at the bottom of the buttress was very easy so I tried to pick the hardest line not to get bored, I need not have worried it soon got interesting when I reached the Fin on the arête. It was fairly committing climbing being solo, hauling myself up onto the initial block and then onto the 0.5m wide fin took a bit nerve, but once on top it was all worth the effort and trepidation. After topping out I continued to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan and the along a ridge to another Munro called Bidean nam Bean, a worthy outing in its own right. By the time i got to the top time was getting on and I needed to drag my weary legs back off the mountain and back to the car, as usual it seamed further than I remembered and it was after dark when I arrived at the car.
Come Wednesday although a bit tiered I had to make the most of the great conditions so the choice for today was a very famous ridge climb called the Aonach Eagach traverse. This impressive ridge runs along the Northern side of the Pass of Glencoe for over 3km and at over 900m in height is quite an undertaking in the sort winter days. An early start was the order of the day, setting off in the dark proved worthwhile as I was again treated to a spectacular sunrise.
Speed was of the essence along the ridge so as not to get caught out by the dark, but it was hard not to take in the sights along with the obligatory photos. Coming down off Am Bodach I used the rope to lower down a tricky section, this took a bit time to set up and although there were similar difficulties along the whole route I was feeling confident and just decided to down climb the rest of them to save time. I only met 2 other people the whole day who were doing the climb in the other direction so it was definitely a day for my own thoughts. Nearing the end of the ridge I was a bit behind time but there was still time for one last photo before the long decent via the Pap of Glencoe.
Thursday gave me a chance for a lay in as the weather was suppose to change for the worst, but drawing back the curtains after 9:00 it didn’t seem that bad so although a was probably to tiered I couldn’t resist saying hello to Ben Nevis North Face and a familiar climb called the ledge route. Starting off way to late at 11:45 and with weary legs I knew I was going to be coming off in the dark. Sure enough by the time I topped out it was already getting dark, snowing with an overcast sky and low cloud it was time to get off so no pics I’m afraid. But as luck would have it as I hit the zig zags the snow stopped and i was treated to great views of the lights of Fort William below me. The walk down from Lochan Meal is best left out as it would just be full of expletives. A bruised ass and side, testament to the number of times I slipped on the icy moor.