Thursday, 6 December 2012

Winter Wonderland

Arran's snow survived the brief thaw at the start of the week, and more arrived high up.  By Wednesday, it was looking like a true winter paradise and a day of settled weather coaxed Wally, Mike and I in to the hills for one of Arran's classic ridge routes. The high level route from Cioch Na h_Oighe to Goatfell in summer is great fun, with some sections of grade 1+ scrambling, mostly avoidable, but not entirely.  In winter it takes on a new level of challenge, that varies with the conditions.  Yesterday we found many of the harder sections banked out and easy, but some of the steepest scrambling felt more tenuous under a thin layer of sugary snow and rime.We had the mountains to ourselves, breaking trail all the way to the summit of Goatfell.

 The route follows a steep path up the eastern flanks of Cioch na h-Oighe from Glen Sannox, via a series of slabs and corners, nicely icy yesterday... Once established on the ridge, its a good scramble until the ridge broadens in to Mullach Buidhe.

 From Mullach Buidhe itself there were wonderful views of many of Arran's fine ridges, undulating away to the west. 

 Easy walking over the top of Mullach Buidhe. 

 Dramatic views of the small, but perfectly formed, Cir Mhor. 

 Resting briefly before the scrambling begins again on Stacach Ridge, to Goatfell. 

 The blocky tors of Stacach can mostly be avoided with a path to the east in Summer, but in winter this regularly gets banked out with very steep and unstable snow.  At times like these it is better to brave the teeth of Stacach.  Steep in places- needs a head for heights and and some winter climbing skills (this is not a walk).

The reward is the view from Goatfell- with great views of Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail.


markwildfood said...

Great stuff Lucy - one of my favourite walks at any time of year, amazing in the ice. Great pictures. Cir Mhor doesn't feel small when you are stuck in that big chimney on the sannox face clinging to loose rock and tussocks age 13! (Dodgy guidebook = 1 life used up!)

Lucy Wallace said...

Hee hee hee! Cir Mhor is a cracker! Loads of winter routes I want to do on the Sannox side.

peter said...

Fantastic scenery and photos. Thanks, and Well Done! Missing Arran, and not sure if your blog is making the homesickness worse or better...

atkypne said...

Nice blog, great pics.

Mark Dootson said...

Great pics, I'm hoping its as good a day when I go up on Monday