Sron na Lairig, Glen Coe (Dec 2012)

Sunday 2nd December

With the forecast looking impeccable Ephraim and I decided to head off to Glencoe to try some ‘mountaineering’. Sron na Lairig was our goal; a 300m grade II ridge. Not knowing quite what to expect we took a rope and a minimal rack, I packed my two axes and Ephraim dusted off his alpenstock.

The walk in was fairly easy though the path was treachorously icy in places. After an hour and half we reached the bottom of the ridge, trying to ignore the fact we were being overtaken by people twice our age! We stopped to put on harnesses and crampons, and dug out an axe each.

It was fairly easy going to start with, just a couple of tricky steps. But we were determined to find a more daunting way up and eventually got to a step I didn’t want to tackle without a rope. It went pretty smoothly, though glad I had been roped up. After that we kept the rope on, taking in coils. (Note to self: must re-learn how to tie coils off before I try and show someone else!) There was one more step I wanted to pitch; but when I actually climbed it, it turned out easier than expected. Still, good practise with the rope.

The top half of the ridge has a couple of dramatic narrowings; dramatic looking but straightforward to negotiate. We topped out the ridge to glorious views and perfect weather, stopping for a bite to eat and to plan our way down. We decided we had enough light to make the summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach and descend via Beinn Fhada ridge. One bit that looked like it would be interesting was the ‘bad step’, a steep downclimb that can be dodgy if icy apparently. It looked like we could bypass it but when we got there we just, lemming-like, followed the footsteps down the steepest bit. It was fine though and great fun.

By now we were getting tired and it was an undulating plod along the ridge to the last bealach and then a right turn down steep slopes to the path. Plenty of slipping over on the snow. If only it had been a little deeper and firmer it would have been a thrilling glissade.

The most dangerous part of the day was slipping along the path back to the car. Didn’t quite make it before dark and had to get the headtorches out for the last half hour. Made it back to the car after just over seven hours, worn out but pleased to have ticked off the first route of the winter.

Report by David Matthews

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