Monday, 4 February 2013

Sron na Lairig

It's been a long time since the last blog post. Work has really taken over my life, but I am hoping to back on track with reporting my adventures! After all, I have the trip to Chamonix that needs putting up! 

My winter season started before Christmas with a little trip up the Haston Line in t'Sneachda. I'm not sure if I've even got photos from that one....

Desperate to branch out of the northern corries this winter I joined Calum, Alasdair and Stephen for a go at Sron na Lairig in Glencoe. Looking to be a good option given the conditions we made a fairly relaxed start up the valley.

Soft snow made for relatively hard going but the ~4km walk in was over before we knew it. Having a view of the route early on helped to get us excited. We'd taken rope and gear but I was already beginning to think it might be a nice route to solo and not faff too much on. A couple of other people were ahead of us an looked to be moving quickly on the initial pitches, so we kitted up and started up the initially broad ridge. At the base there are plenty of variants to make it harder if you wish.

We all felt comfortable moving over the easy ground and the few 'tricky' sections just added that little bit of interest. This allowed us to move quickly but still had time for a bit of chat with the other party we passed.

The upper reaches started to become a bit more of a defined ridge....exactly what you want from a ridge climb. As I was leading the way I kept an eye out for some sections that would add interest. One such part was a short but quite exposed wall which had really solid hooks. It felt good to be moving confidently over this sort of ground, which I think was really helped by the calm and clear conditions.

After this it just got better and better, with the ridge becoming knife edge style.

Having made such a quick ascent we decided to carry on to the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach for a true 'mountaineering style' day. From here we headed down the huge ridge of Beinn Fhada, which included a small abseil. This section is noted as a grade I/II down climb, however I think we must have gone wrong as it definitely needed an abseil!!

We diverted down the east slopes of Beinn Fhada as the light was beginning to fade which was a painful experience. Very soft snow combined with loose rocks just below the surface made for very sore ankles. We utilised many forms of descent within the repertoire, including front crawl!

The headtorches came out towards the end and my phone started bleating as the signal came back. We weren't to know at the time but during our day out 4 people had been buried and killed in an avalanche in central gully of Bidean nam Bian, just over the hill. Suffice to say, my folks were very worried as I'd only told them I was going to Glencoe!

Overall; a fine route and a fun day with the guys. Condolences to the families who lost loved ones on this day. 

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