Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Ling, Lawson and Glover's Route

The view to Slioch from the crest of Ling, Lawson and Glover's Route (II***), Sail Mhor.

Torridon seems to have become a bit of an addiction. In a way it is frustrating to be living in the Cairngorms just now, with many of the climbs that I've not done buried under snow or not in any condition to be soloing. But I'm not complaining, as North-West has been best this season and it has meant I've had every reason to spend a lot of time climbing in this remarkable place.



Liathach


Coire Mhic Fhearchair

It seems every day I have ever spent up here has been great and memorable in one way or another. None of them blend into another, and each one leaves me itching for the next.

The sheer depth of snow that has accumulated these past three months has left some us in the odd position of longing for a deep thaw. It's not often I've said that before, but we really do need it. There's only so much snow that a slope can hold, and with the ground underneath really not being that cold...


Looking towards the upper crest of Ling, Lawson and Glover's Route.

 Looking up towards the main tower

And "thaw" seemed like it would be the word of the day today, the knee deep wet snow on Sail Mhor hardly inspiring confidence for setting off up a route alone. I know it's all good in the long run, but then and there I still cursed it. Turning back and going home for a cup of tea seemed vastly preferable to what it looked like the day would bring, but hey, you never know.

Views over Torridon
The first 50 metres or so of Ling, Lawson and Glover's Route hardly seemed to do justice to a 3 star classic of the North-West. Any kind of line seemed to be lacking and so did anything resembling climbing. But considering how much snow the route was holding, it could be all kinds of different usually? Judging by a friend's photos from February last year, it looks like it can be quite a lot more involving.



But as soon as you reach that notch on the skyline, it turns into the classic mountaineering route that I'd expected. Those views from  Sail Mhor really are a cut above the rest, and even better to enjoy them from a few hundred metres of ridge climbing. The thaw that had taken hold of the lower slopes had disappeared as I got higher and the upper ridge was under a very heavy cover of snow. I think most of the more tricky steps were buried, as the "hard for the grade" comments I've heard certainly didn't apply today.

Looking down on my footsteps on the famous "table" mid-route.


For everyone suffering from endless frustration at the winter conditions in the more popular parts of the Highlands, Torridon has been quietly holding some of the best conditions for weeks now. Hopefully it'll last.

James

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