Tuesday, 15 January 2013

14th January 2013 - NE Ridge Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Davie looks on to Gearr Aonach and the Zig-Zags

Looking back to the A82 - pretty white all over

Davie wading through thigh deep snow. This was quite shallow compared to other areas...

Looking over the route to come. Stob Coire Sgreamhach in the distance

Davie captures our route

Making quick progress through difficult conditions

Unconsolidated snow made these sections an interesting traverse

Looking back, our footprints visible beyond

We triggered a small slab avalanche which slipped maybe 15 metres. Hearts in mouth.

I am aware that I haven't updated this blog since the beginning of December, so thought I would give a short update. In December I was pretty busy with things, but managed to enjoy a weekend in the Cairngorms for the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotlands annual conference. It was a great weekend jam packed with excellent work shops and lectures.

After a long break back in Glasgow to see family and friends I returned to the Highlands refreshed but lacking in fitness due to a lack of good winter conditions and not enough time to get out and about. Today though, Davie and I decided to head out in Glen Coe and attempt the NE Ridge of Stob Coire Sgreamhach (II), a little frequented route it would seem.

Snow fall at the car park made it obvious that the snow on the mountain would be fresh and deep. We headed straight up the nose of Bhienn Fhada which provided an interesting way to gain height quickly. We were soon on the ridge proper, and began fighting our way through huge drifts of snow, sometimes waist high and more. The winds picked up steadily through the day, blasting spin drift up into our faces and making visibility difficult. We pressed on without stopping much. Each time we made a summit, we looked out to see another rising before us. The ridge is far from technical, but it is quite enjoyable with some terrific views (when the cloud lifted) and the only area of difficulty was the Bad Step. Afte a short easy down climb into a narrow gap, we had to skirt round a steep face. This proved a bit tricky given the snow conditions, and we accidentally triggered a small slab avalanche which only ran maybe 15 metres, but left us being extra careful as we made our traverse round. As the ground steepened, making good foot and axe placements became more and more tricky. We ended up spending a long time swimming up a gully, tiring, laborious work in the conditions but the snow pack here seemed more secure.

Out of this gully, it was a short troop up to the summit and then off towards the bealach above Lairig Eilde, and down in to the glen towards our cars. Another cracking day in great company. Working at the college for the rest of the week, and hoping for good conditions for the weekend to get out.

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