Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Wintery Glencoe and the Grey Corries

October and November are wonderful quiet times for me, when I recover from a busy summer, and take a deep breath before the cold thrills of winter. Winter came a bit early this year however and Wally and I managed to grab three magical winters days in the West Highlands before the month of November was out.

 On Saturday, we had an easy day with a plan to keep our legs as fresh as possible for Sun/Mon. We headed up the steep staircase that leads to Stob Coire nan Lochain in Glencoe. The aim was to brush up on our winter skills, and familiarise ourselves with the conditions. The snow proved too soft for practicing ice axe arrest and other exercises so we satisfied ourselves with a jaunt over the top and back down again. 

 Lovely views across the glen to the Aonach Eagach. 

 The gullies and butresses of SNCL itself were plastered with fresh snow, and fluffy little cornices topped the steeper routes.

 Magnificent views west towards Loch Leven and beyond. 

 On Sunday we packed our expedition rucksacks and headed from Corriechoille up in to the Lairig Leacach. The rain quickly turned to snow as we climbed and we took shelter in the bothy for a welcome brew at lunch time.
 After lunch, it was up in to the coire below Stob Ban.  We found a high pitch for our tent just below the bealach, and as the sun was setting, climbed up to Stob Ban.  We didn't get much of a view in the fading light and mist, but the moon beautifully lit our descent to the camp.

 Dawn at camp was a cold place!

 From the bealach, we climbed steeply up on to Stob Coire Claurigh, and from there headed along the Grey Corries Ridge towards Stob Coire an Laoigh.  

 The cloud refused to lift all day, and visibility deteriorated to at times complete whiteout punctuated by looming buttresses and snow covered scree. 

At last, descending towards Coirechoille again, we dipped below the cloud and were treated to stunning views of the of the Aonach Mor and Aonach Beag range.