20th March 2016
Simon O. and I decided to pay a visit to Caenlochan Glen to try a ski descent of Banana Gully to follow up our recent trip to the Back Corries at Nevis Range.
Banana Gully lies between Glas Maol and Little Glas Maol, to the East of Glenshee, facing NE.
Pictures we’d seen of it gave the impression of a fairly wide gully with a moderate slope angle, and an easy entrance with no cornice. Well, the entrance was indeed wide and easy with no cornice, so that much was as expected. From the top however it was only possible to see about the first 10 metres, beyond which there was a sharp steepening. Walking around onto the flank of Little Glas Maol to try and get a view down from the side also didn’t help, there was just no way to get a view down without actually dropping in and committing. Having already seen photos and info online – including recent photos taken from below only a couple of days earlier – we reckoned we could do it so decided to go ahead and take the plunge.
After dropping in, we could immediately see as we got to the steepening that this was going to be more challenging than anticipated – a ‘proper’ gully with a sustained steep section for some 150-200m and snow that was firm and unforgiving. It was definitely going to be a case of us making our way down very carefully as mistakes would not be permitted here. Nonetheless we took our time and with lots of side slipping and a couple of carefully placed turns made our way down (also negotiating a few grassy and rocky bits that were appearing about halfway down to add to the challenge!)
Zero points for style, but we were both very happy to have completed the objective and come back unscathed!
Getting back out of Caenlochan Glen and back up onto Glas Maol was a fair effort too due to the steep gradient on all sides of the glen coupled with steep slippery snow patches that our skis didn’t hold well on.
All in all a successful and worthwhile day though – and an important lesson learned about interpreting steepness of gullies from photographs: the camera lies!
- Jon Bowyer