Just back from a winter mountaineering week in Scotland, not much snow on the hills at the moment with an increase in temperature and some rainfall but it was good fun all the same! Thanks to Jo, Steve, Dooley, Mark and Rob for putting up with me!
Sunday I embarked on the journey from Birmingham to our accommodation at Onich and, as ever, missing the turning multiple times. Quick pop to the shops to stock up for the week then we settled in for the evening… maybe with a cider or two…
After a few discussions the night before it was decided to do Carn Mor Dearg Arête (CMD for short… yes I had to look up the full name for you lot!). We set off for the North Face carpark and its was slightly windy but not overly cold, not a good sign when you are after snow! Those of us who have done the route had completely forgotten how much of a slog it is to get to any of the fun bits and as we headed up the wind increased, spin drift was shooting of the top of CMD all over the place giving great views but not boding well for later in the day. We breached the shelter of the will into the wind and it was not content with being strong (40mph) from just one direction, no; it gusted (55mph) and spun round the mountain hitting us from any and every direction. The wind was strong enough to brace and on occasion just drop to the ground, planting ice axes into the snow to ensure we were safe. Lunch was had sheltered behind boulders and it was decided it wouldn’t be fun to continue along the arête even though we were confident everyone would be fine so we turned round.
The day wasn’t over on the way down we dropped into the lea of the hill and found some nice patch’s of snow to spend some time playing in so much sliding and silliness was had!
On the way to CMD
To finish the day we had an amazing sunset from our Loch side cottage.
Today we had a pair of guides to show us around so it was off to Forcan Ridge, which was a tad of a long drive from where we were staying. As ever it was an long drag up to the good stuff and it was getting warm. By the time we got to the ridge most of us had striped off a couple of layers, some down to there base layers and the route was nearly completely bear of snow. The ridge is possibly 1km long and classed as a grade 2 scramble with some fun traverses and debatable quite exposed in places. This route is well worth the effort and I more snowy conditions even better. After the ridge we summited The Saddle and descended of the southern side. On the decent we broke into two groups almost without realising as poor Jo’s toes were taken a battering and Craig and I seemed to get stomp on at about the same time.
On the Forcan Ridge. Thanks to Craig Dooley for the photo! (Instagram @adventuredools)
The seems we have lost any semblance of good weather, the rain has come… based on this Kevin and Jim (the guides) thought it best to do the zig zag on Gearr Aonach which gave us time to practice our skills so most the time was on lower grade scrambles but short roping and different belay technics. By the end of the day we were starting to get a tad cold and wet so the view of the cars was much welcomed!
Craig enjoying him self in the damp Scottish weather
Big day today, we undertook Aonach Eagach in less than wintery conditions. Apparently it is the longest and narrowest ridge on the British mainland and its a fun but long day out. The ridge is approximately two miles long and in places less than about 1ft wide. We stated the crossing in clag but the cloud burnt off and first we were treated to stunning views down Glencoe and then the rare “Brocken Spector”! We spent most of the day short roping so the going was slow and team work was paramount, we had no more than 1.5m of rope between us so each move while scrambling can effect the others in the team so we had to move slow and carefully. Good fun was had by all and the pub finished the trip to Scotland nicely.
Scramble fun on Aonach Eagach Ridge fun!