Its been quite an interesting week in Glencoe, with the weather throwing in everything its got you could almost think it had designs on stopping you climbing. However it can’t keep the hardy folk indoors forever and the wild weather has lent itself to some good winter whiteout navigation practice. Last weekend I had with me Heath and Byron for a continuation of their “Winter skills” While we didn’t get many views on our excursion up Sgurr an Luhair they certainly left with an appreciation of the importance of navigation skills when in whiteout conditions. The following day was to windy to get out in the mountains to any great extent, so they elected return home for a family day. Monday saw a continuation of the rain snow and wind so I returned to The Mamours for an accent of Am Bodach and Stob Ban, again the day involved a lot of time on the compass and combined with knee deep snow made for a tiring day. Tuesday I had a look up to the Start of the Aonach Eagach Turning right instead of the usual left with the intention of an easy ridge walk in an area I hadn’t been. here I met up with a group of forces personnel on a winter training course, noting the had a vehicle at the other end of the ridge I decided with their permission to tag along and cadge a lift back to the car. For once the weather stated out not so bad but after lunch back in came the now usual snow storm, good for their instruction if nothing else. With the weather looking promising for Thursday i decided to rest on the Wednesday and continue reading “The White Spider” in the comfortable surrounds of the“Glencoe Independent Hostel” Finally Thursday dawned with dry skys and light winds with even a bit of sun peaking through. With Gully climbing routes out of the question a ridge climb seamed in order and what better one than the Aonach Eagach ridge. Although I’d done the ridge before I forgot how long a pull up to the start it is with a rucksack full of climbing kit. Once on the ridge I was not surprised to see it well covered in huge amounts of snow, however I was expecting to see a bit more neve opposed to the powdery corniced ridges in front of me. I was not the only one on the ridge, not surprising it had proved a popular choice for the day with at least 2 teams visible in front of me. The first down pitch didn’t start to well, I had sworn last year I did the whole ridge with a 30m rope and only 2 lowers. This time on the first Absel the rope ran out 5m short, hmmm. never mind a bit digging found a chock stone right next to me, so I secured to it and pulled through the rope before re-threading the rope though the chock stone and retrieved my sling. It was only 5m but when I tried to pull through and retrieve the rope the second time it jammed in the chock stone. Well nothing for it but to climb back up fix some tat as an alternative, thread the rope through it and try again, this time I retrieved the rope without problem leaving the tat for the next person. 5hrs later after several lowers, climbs and ridge balance’s I was at the end of the ridge, having passed 2 other teams on the way, Soloing is definitely faster, but certainly not safer, tiered nerves were testament to that. Today I’m in The Cairngorms waiting for the weather once more to settle, lets hope soon ehh!
Fingers crossed for that high pressure before its time to head home!