We’ve had a LOT of rain up here over the last few months. The met office anomaly maps suggests 150-200% more than average. However, high pressure dominated this last weekend and though it wasn’t clear blue skies, at least it wasn’t raining.
I’ve had my eye on a munro at the bottom end of Glencoe for a long time. As you drive out of Glencoe village back towards Rannoch Moor, on the bend before the Clachaig Inn on your right is a tremendous ridge flanked with deep valleys either side. The ridge is called Aonach Dubh á Ghlinne (The dark ridge of the glen) which leads onto the first top Stob an Fhuarain (968m). The munro, Sgor na h-Ulaidh (994m) is 1km further along a connecting ridge.. The name translates as “peak of the treasure”.
The SMC central highlands guide says of Sgor na h-Ulaidh, “…it’s complex of ridges makes appreciation of shape difficult. In winter only one of the routes described below should not present difficulty – that by Meall a’Bhuiridh from Glen Etive – while, particularly in decent, all others require care”. The climbing guide says, “…N.B. This is a difficult mountain to descend in poor visibility”.
I had no plans to do the peak from Glen Etive and was feeling well psyched out before I even left home. I wondered about a jaunt around the CMD on Ben Nevis instead…
What the hell; go for it. Leaving the car at dawn it seemed to take an age to get up Fionn Ghleann to Bealach Fhionnghaill at the start of both the traverse and of the difficulties.
Simple scrambling in Summer, but solo, seemingly having the mountain to myself, and under snow & ice; I was wondering about the consequences of my stupidity. A couple of vertical steps made committing moves with a big drop waiting below, and all the time I was thinking, “I’m going to have to reverse this”.
I wondered about bailing out…
…anyway, cut to the chase, I carried on and eventually saw a team of 4 silhouetted on the adjacent ridge, Aonach Dubh á Ghlinne, and they passed me below the final push for the summit when I stopped for lunch. I was knackard as the snow was deep, wet, and being solo I broke trail for most of the day. Another guy walking solo had also passed me as I ate. We chatted briefly. A sprightly 20 something he shot off up the steep summit slopes.
I finished lunch. Wise move. With 5 people now in front of me breaking trail the way was much easier… Bag the munro and head for home…
“Peak of the treasure”…. I did wonder…. keeping fingers crossed, as I still hadn’t checked my lottery ticket.