Weathering out the storms at home in Wales over the holiday period allowed plenty of time to reacquaint with climbing indoors, road biking and learning about mountain biking…and some reading up on some less popular places to climb when I’d head up to Scotland.
As soon as an opportunity arose I met up with Donald King for a few days before we started guiding for the winter as further opportunities looked slim. We had an amazing run of routes, whilst not really off the beaten track, more a little less mainstream.
Firstly a visit to the Lost Valley in Glencoe. The walk in was the sort of thing that only happens on an early season foray by desperate men as we left the car with torrential rain bouncing off the windscreen. We were joined by Mike Peascod and Guy Buckingham…two men not easily deterred. Fortunately the rain gave way to snow and a plastered and wintry cliff. They romped up Moonlighting leaving us to finish our way up a challenging Directosaur.
The following day saw Guy join us for a yomp to the beautiful Coire Chat on Ben Cruachan. Despite the 3 hr approach our friends Simon, Malcolm and Neil were there too, and we had a sociable start before our lines had us a little more engrossed in goings on. As the guide suggests the climbing is superb and the views on a clear day (as we had) are exceptional…southern highlands, round the compass via Cairngorms, Central highlands to Rhum Cuillins and down to Jura!
We chose the 3 star Goldfinger which gave plenty of tough climbing and comes well recommended! The return yomp was a gift in comparison and we narrowly avoided head torches. I’d consider a mountain bike next time as it may be possible to reduce the chunky walk in considerably by scooting up the reservoir road? And of course the last leg of the return would be great fun.
Early the following morning we were cycling through the forest below the Grey Corries to reduce the approach to the quartzite cliffs below Stob Coire an Loaigh. Having visited there a long time ago for the classics Tallibalan and Blue Rinse it’d gone out of vogue as a venue as the forestry track had been locked and so the approach considerably increased. But having just done it again it was easy. Some friends just visited too and found the gates open. Well I can’t recommend the cliff enough.
This time we climbed the superb Centre Point via a variation entry pitch previously climbed by the James’s Edwards and Thacker. In my limited experience of just 3 routes there I’d say treat the grading cautiously…whilst Tallibalan is a good fun romp at the grade (from distant memory) BR and CP are pretty tough outings and considerably more engaging than anything with similar grades on the Ben, in Glencoe, Cairngorms or up NW! I spoke briefly with the main developer of the crag and total legend, Andy Nisbet afterwards and I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting him….” Some like it Hot has a fantastic pitch, as good as any I’ve done.” Looking forward to heading back ASAP. It’s like climbing on Beinn Eighe but without all the easier ground above and below…
Our last little foray didn’t get very far as even with fresh guns in the form of the Rudkin, we all retired early for a coffee in Glencoe…return visit required as it was a stunning line with an easy approach! However the route will obviously require bodies and minds operating on full capacity…
And so home to Wales for a few days with a quick reliable classic up in Cwm Cniefion which always seems to have great ice and fast climbing as well as being roadside in comparison to all the cliffs visited up in Scotland.