Saturday, 8 May 2010
Two days in the mountains
My friend Maz has been staying at the Clachaig for the last few days, and since her visit corresponded with my days off, mountains were an inevitability! We had two separate excursions.
Glas Bheinn Mhor and Ben Starav
Glen Etive is a place I have visited relatively infrequently, yet it is one of the finest glens in Lochaber and fairly local, being only a thirty-minute drive away. The finest mountains dominating the lower section of the glen are Glas Bheinn Mhor and (overwhelmingly) Ben Starav, a giant peak rising straight out of the loch. I first climbed these mountains two years ago but had never visited since.
Our route climbed a gentle pass to the bealach east of Glas Bheinn Mhor. From here we followed the ridge west, with increasingly excellent views. Glas Bheinn Mhor fell easily. After dropping down to the col and contemplating the view ahead, we enjoyed scrambling past the crazy pinnacles on the eastern top of Starav; it is in this area that the Grade IV winter route Hidden Ridge is located.
A short arete of easy scrambling led to the summit, and a fine panorama. An excellent day out.
Photos from Glas Bheinn Mhor and Ben Starav
The Easy Route, Gearr Aonach
The blunt cliff-face of Gearr Aonach is one of the most arresting sights in Glen Coe: a steep mass of rock, seemingly severe and inaccessible by easy routes. Yet it has one major weakness in its defences, the exceptionally easy Zig-Zags, a Grade 1 scramble I have climbed a few times.
This cliff was initially ascended in 1898 by a route that cuts directly up the Zig-Zags. It was named the Easy Route, and nowadays is known as a two-star Grade 3 scramble. I've wanted to do it for a while and with superb weather Maz and I decided it would make an excellent short outing before I start work at five o'clock.
We took helmets, harnesses and a rope but in the end the route proved to be quite straightforward, a simple steep course up superb rough rock with excellent holds, very similar to the style of climbing on the East Face of Aonach Dubh. The crux was a steep chimney to the left of a wedged block, with perhaps a move or two of Moderate but still quite low in the grade compared to Sron na Creise or the North Buttress of Stob Ban.
After topping out, we walked along the long ridge of Gearr Aonach and enjoyed the brilliant views in the sun before dropping down Coire nan Lochan. Now a busy Saturday night shift awaits me!
Photos from Gearr Aonach