The Great Ridge
Most climbers and mountaineers have routes and summits that are highly symbolic to them - it doesn't matter how easy or hard, high or remote, but to climb one of your symbolic routes is always so satisfying.
For me, the Great Ridge of Garbh Bheinn is one of those routes. I have lived in Glencoe now for 2 and half years, and every time I have been down to the village or gone over the Ballachulish bridge, I have glanced towards Garbh Bheinn and thought about the Great Ridge.
It is the summer route that I have most wanted to climb for the first time solo since living here, but it is only recently that I have thought myself capable enough to embark upon it with a safety margin. So on the 3rd day of a dry period, I finally decided to go for it.
A warm sunny day and dry rock
From nearly every angle it is a impressive looking route, but from below it looks positively magnificent. Unlike the great Nevis ridges where the good rock starts almost at the bottom of the routes, the Great Ridge is divided into two halves. And it is the approach up grassy terraces and a slimy awkward gully that I have heard quite a few discouraging (to say the least) stories about.
And the stories were accurate. The bottom half of the approach is vegetated and loose and you end up pulling on heather stalks more than rock to get yourself up it. But the awkward gully is simply nasty. It is wet and slimy, and the move I had to perform to overcome a dripping overhang was one of the most contorted and awkward climbing moves I've ever performed.
Nasty slippery terrain on the approach
Route finding on this approach section of the ridge is absolutely critical, but also pretty complicated and to be honest I found it pretty unnerving. So I was very relieved to suddenly arrive at the bottom of the upper ridge.
The upper ridge - perfect rock
I can't praise the upper ridge highly enough. It is quite simply superb. Perfect, clean rock for its entire length with varied terrain and some superb chimneys and walls. Don't let the Diff grade let you take this ridge lightly, there are some moves which are very stiff for the grade and which felt very bold to be soloing.
A steep traversing chimney
It felt fantastic to have finally climbed it, and for the first time as a solo. It is quite simply one of the best routes I've ever done (summer or winter) in Scotland, and an easy candidate for my boldest solo mountain route in the summer months. For the first time in 2 and a half years I can look over to Ardgour with the knowledge of a goal achieved.