Well, with much excitement, I was finally going to get my hands on cold hard rock for the day. Having not managed to get out all winter for any climbing and very little done in 2014, to say I was a little excited when Robert asked if I was free to head up to Glencoe was a bit of an understatement.
For this of you who may not be aware, Robert, myself and Alan are all attempting to do the BIGHEX challenge this September. Basically, the challenge is to climb six classic routes in Scotland against the clock. So with that in mind, heading up to Glencoe to practice The Buachaille Mor climbs was a great shout.
Robert and myself headed up with a plan to to ascend the North Buttress and down climb Curved ridge. Alan was unable to make it along for the day due to other commitments
Robert collected me in the van and we headed up leaving a fog bound and cold Bathgate. Fortunately, as we got closer to Stirling we were meet with blue sky and and beautiful sun shine. We arrived at a suprisingly empty layby and car park at the foot of the Buachaille. You could clearly see there was a lot of snow persisting in the corrie and around Crowberry Tower.
Anyway, we got the boots on and we were quickly on our way. We would deal with the snow as and when we got there as we had no winter gear. Before we left I did a customary lap of the van just so when we get about half way up and Robert, as he does, asks me "did I lock the van?" I could say YIP.
On the way to the start we couldn't believe how it stunning that day was, you would not have believed it possible when we were leaving Bathgate.
Before we knew it we had hit the split in the path at the two standing boulders. From here Robert pointed out the large crack that we are heading for. In no time we reached the start of the main route and time to gear up.
I did the first pitch as Robert had done this before. I have to say that having the gear on and roped up just about to climb I got that normal feeling of both fear and excitement. After the first move in to the climb the fear goes and that's replaced with the sense of calm and just shear joy. I get this with nearly all the time when just about to start a route. The climb up was great and done with little trouble apart from the 3 pitch where I did a bumping and grinding motion on the chimney. After 3 pitches we stopped and took the gear off as the rest was just a nice scramble to the top.
There was a small snow patch just of the summit that was solid ice so we had to climb round it to continue. When we reach the summit there was a older gent sitting with his camera's and not a breath of wind. It was a fantastic summit to stay on and enjoy the sun. After 20 mins a group joined us on the top having came up the corrie. They informed us that they used rocks as kind of make shift axes as the snow was hard and icy in the gully. After about a hour we decided that it was time to head down.
Curved ridge was our descent route, the decision made after the group advised about the conditions of the gully. We chose right, the small snow patch at Crowberry Tower was soft and mushy and really easy to cross.
Having both never done curved ridge as a descent route we had a few problems finding the top of the ridge to head down. Once we got on the right track however it was plan sailing as they say. I think of all of the times I've scrambled up curved ridge, I have to say as a descent it turned out to be harder than I thought it was going to be. Once on the right path however it did not take us long to get down and the route just disappeared. Before long we were at the waterslab.
On the whole day we saw five people at the summit, two guys climbing Agags Grove and another man just starting curved ridge after he'd done Anoach Eagach that morning. So a very quite day on The Buachaille.
Back at the van the day had taken us seven hours at a leasurly pace and about two hour sunbathing.
I have to say it was a cracking day and the weather was fantastic. It was all finished of with a Real food cafe on the way home.