Thursday, 23 September 2010

An autumnal scramble on Gearr Aonach

With a marginal forecast for the day, I decided on a 'safe' option and wombled down to the Lost Valley to have a look at Gearr Aonach. This large prow of rock features two main scrambles, the Easy Route (Grade 3) and the Zig-Zags (easy Grade 1) plus a range of rock-climbs. I had hoped to climb the Easy Route again--it was hugely enjoyable when I climbed it with Maz back in the spring--but when I reached the ledge it was obvious that a very slimy water weep was coming down the tricky slab at the start. Coupled with high winds, I decided that going up this way would not be sensible.

As a note for a future winter ascent, I believe this water weep will form a good icefall down the slabby initial section; it's probably only graded winter III for ice-encased conditions such as these.

I went back round to the easier Zig-Zags. A small guided party had climbed it minutes before, and I followed them up the delightful short pitch of scrambling. A couple of corners, furnished with massive flake holds, soon leads to the upper ledge and a final short bit of scrambling before the top.

I overtook the group near the summit of Gearr Aonach, then strode out across the ridge, enjoying the fine views on either side. The cloud had lifted above the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan and there were even patches of sun.

Despite not having done much walking or climbing all summer, it was gratifying to find that I could still run from the coire basin to the road in about half an hour. This bodes well for the winter!

Photos from today

CONDITIONS-WATCH for 23/09/10 :
No winter conditions reported in Glen Coe as of yet, but the freezing level is forecast to briefly dip beneath the summits on Friday and Saturday, with the chance of some snow showers. Obviously this will not be enough to bring any climbs in condition, but it can only be a matter of time now.


  1. Hi Alex, do you think that 'Easy Route' in the SMC guides & 'Zig Zags Direct ' in the Cicerone guide are in fact the same route?

    1. Hi Ken, yes, I think the routes are the same. The Easy Route basically cuts the corner off the Zig-Zags on the nose of Gearr Aonach. It's a good short scramble, easy for Grade 3.