Thursday, 18 August 2011

Midgies and Brocken spectres on D Gully Buttress (posted by James)

The Rannoch Wall and Crowberry Tower, even more intimidating that usual.

The cliffs of Buachaille Etive Mor were on fine form this morning. They are impressive at any time, but when they appear suddenly, briefly revealing themselves though gaps in the fog, they are spectacular.

I've quite suddenly changed back into "climbing mode" again, so this morning I headed towards D Gully Buttress (Difficult/Severe) - the steeper and meaner neighbour of Curved Ridge. I made very quick work of the walk-in, simply to avoid the clouds of midgies intent on eating me alive.

D-Gully Buttress

I was slightly worried at the amount of mist around as I was soloing a route I'd never climbed before, but slowly things were beginning to clear. And it turned into a morning I'll remember for quite a while.

The route itself was a really enjoyable solo - perfect Buachaille rock throughout with sustained interest, some nice exposure and in awe-inspiring surroundings. But it was what started to happen with the light and mist that really made my day.

Big exposure.

Fog thinned to mist and haze with the sun shining down through it. And for a few brief seconds, I witnessed something that I've never seen before in all my time in the mountains. A small loch on Rannoch Moor was reflecting the sun so brightly through the mist that it was projecting it's own circular rainbow towards me from below. Almost like a Brocken Spectre in reverse, but projected by a loch instead of by the sun. Incredible.

An incredible "solar glory", reflected off a loch on Rannoch Moor

After by-passing Hell's Wall (didn't fancy soloing a pitch of Severe with a name like that…) I made quick progress to the traverse onto the top section of Curved Ridge and finished to the summit. As I arrived at the cairn, my Brocken Spectre appeared. Always a special experience.

Brocken Spectre

The chimney to by-pass Hell's Wall

I become fonder of the Buachaille every time I climb on it. I've often been guilty of ignoring it slightly, always preferring the allure of the world-class winter climbing on Bidean nam Bian and the Three Sisters. But it can't be winter all the time…and for climbing in the summer months in Glencoe it doesn't get better than the Buachaille.

Finishing off up Curved Ridge


1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize that the awkward step was called Hell's Wall. From what I can remember the hard part is unprotected. I can recall spending ages faffing around on it. It's actually not too hard and only one move. However, when you are standing looking up at it, it's very easy to dither!