Sunday, 16 May 2010

Sron na Lairig - Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Today Craig and I headed up to Glencoe again with a mind to do something on the Bidean massif, and eventually agreed on one of the less travelled routes of going up Stob Coire Sgreamhach (peak of the dreadful corrie) (3517ft) by its spur by the name of Sron na Lairig (nose of the pass) which sits at the top of Lairig Eilde. The route is shown below. Should be fairly straight forward.

We parked up at the newly reconstructed car park across from the memorial cairn at the foot of Lairig Eilde and made a very quiet and peaceful trek up the glen along side the river. Sron na Lairig is fairly prominent at the top of the glen with dull overcast but good visibility. The attack point for the ridge is from the large slab at the very bottom right of the following picture. For purpose of scale which is not always apparent without a refence point, the height of this slab as seen is about three times my height.

Craig and I scoffed down some energy sweets and then made out way up the initial section which could easily be bypassed at the grassy gullies at the side (but why would you want to). The rock has reasonably good friction but is quite lichenous which makes it a little more greasy. A few smooth slabby parts need to be crossed but being dry this proves no problem.

After a little time we come to a wall of rock blocking us off in every direction, the route as described indicates making our way towards an obvious slab, which leads up a chimney and just five minutes previously it started to rain pretty instantly making the rock greasy and wet with water streaming down all the cracks and ledges. I offer to lead up the slippy rock, bring up the rucksacks and then bring craig up.

We then follow up some easy but slippy ribbons of scree which we follow up leftwards back onto the main ridge again, and come to another rock band which is made interesting with the rain. This curves up and onto some grassy slopes. This is the end of the rocks.

Just as we arrive at the top of the rock band the rain which has been pelting down for the last hour fades and the clouds open up to a beautiful blue sky. The summit of Stob Coire Sgreamhach comes into view and a few people can be seen mulling about on top.

We are not at the top of the ridge yet so we carry on upwards.

Although the hardest parts are over the rest of the ridge gets very narrow at a few points leaving nothing but an exposed sharp arĂȘte with a long and scary drop on both sides. Craig is admiring the drop.

We reach the top of the ridge which is marked by a cairn and follow the scree to the summit. A few small patches of snow to enjoy and I am missing winter already.

Looking back down to the ridge.

We make our way down to the bealach between Sgreamhach and the main Bidean summit, but we are not planning on going up there as we came and done the route we had planned and enjoyed it. I decide to take Craig down the Lost Valley to go back again. We pass an American girl who tells us the coire headwall is banked out with snow still but we push on.

The only way is to downclimb the headwall and the snow is sugary and loose which makes for dubious step kicking, but we persevere and pick our way down into the coire carefully. Craig is double careful after his accident coming down coire na tulaich a few weeks ago - triple careful as we never had ice axes this time. The angle soon relents leading to scree and further small patches of snow.

Looking back up to the bealach we see some people mulling about trying to figure out how to get down. Possibly they had came up another way and had the idea to go down the Lost Valley as well. I sweated back up again to render some assistance but the group had gone by the time I got there so I slid back down again.

The Lost Valley is quiet with no one else about, however I am annoyed at seeing broken wine bottles and rubbish and messy remains from some camping. Leave no trace?

We take our time walking back down in the fading sunlight popping out at the main road, but unfortunately not near the car so we linger about to try and hitch a lift. A nice couple from North Carolina (USA) stopped and asked us to take a picture of them with the three sisters. I cheekily asked if we could get a lift to our car and they obliged. We offered our sincere thanks and wished them a good time on their tour of Scotland.

Off to the Kingshouse for a well deserved feed.

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