Sun 19th Feb - Sun 26th Feb, 2023
Waters Cottage week
19th -26th Feb 2023
While our Norwegian counterparts were making their way back, a select few set off for the alternative ice/Scottish winter meet MK2 of the season, to the lovely Water’s Cottage. Meeting somewhat less than winter conditions when we arrived. Glencoe was full of the joys of late spring with barely a patch of snow to be seen. Munro bagging it was thought to be!
By Monday morning, ambition had got in the way of common sense and Muro running sounded like the most reasonable use of the day. Except to skipper Dave, who went off to explore the The West Highland way, south from Kinlochlieven, at a slower pace. Jess and Mich reasonably failed to gain that much height towards the intended Sgurr Eilde Mor, due to driving wind and rain, and settled for a gentle 21k hill trot up, down and around Loch Elide Mor – which didn’t feel all that gentle in places.
While Jess went off to procure optimistically needed ice tools from a conveniently placed local friend, Dave and Mich tried for Munro #2: Am Bodach, in the Mamores. A relaxed start and a West Highland way injury fated an increasingly windy and wet summit push, so they decided they had better get down to the pub, as a terrible thirst had anyway come over them.
With Dave on a rest day to practise his drone filming, Jess and Mich decided it was about time they got a peak or two ticked off and did a sensibly paced walk of the magnificent Ballachulish Horseshoe on Beinn a'Bheithir. We opted to ascend via a very summery scramble of Schoolhouse Ridge to Sgòrr Bhan, before taking in Sgòrr Bhan and Sgòrr Dhònuill summits, which had increasingly breathtaking views in all directions; almost being able to pick out Dave’s drone, or at least the ferry he was following with it, down in Loch Linnhe, before we dropped down the tricky scree slope to the forestry track.
Andy arrived later in the day with plans to find winter on The Ben. Dave decided to call it a day, with foot still niggling. (Which turned out to be an actual injury with a proper name.) But before heading off, he kindly lent team winter his modest collection of antique ice protection as, it was apparent, they were ill prepared for winter after all!!
An early start and just finding the last parking space, Andy, Jess and Mich headed up and winter was sighted at last! Number 3 buttress was relatively quiet, so we headed up that, finishing direct, after a bit of a faff to decide which way looked more reasonable. Climbing as a three on a fairly busy route slowed progress and light faded soon after summiting. Just to make the most of the day with the longest route possible, we headed to Glen Nevis along the Pony Track and completed the loop to the North Face car park in a taxi.
Stevie arrived later on that evening, fresh from Norway and being suitably impressed with the mileage from the day, made efforts to plan an ambitious day Munro bagging with Andy the following day.
Setting off from Glen Nevis at Achriabhach, Andy and Stevie walked through signed footpaths and forestry tracks on to open hillside where rain showers and a bitter wind caused them to don waterproofs before the steep pull leading to the blocky ridge to the summit of Mullach Nan Coirean (939m). The weather kindly cleared through, leaving glorious views for miles in the clear air. They followed a superb ridge path for over 3km around the rim of Coire Dearg then Coire an Lochan before a pull up the shapely quartzite summit of Stob Ban (999m) overlooking Coire a’ Mhusgain. By now the weather had improved for lunch on the summit, and an incredible view in every direction, with the summit of the Ben plastered in snow. The descent took them past the top of some of the famous gullies of this winter climbing venue and as they descended the excellent stalkers path into Coire a’ Mhusgain, they could see that it would be well worth a return trip to climb here, which neither of them had done. It was a superb day out. 15km / 1150m (thanks for the detail Andy).
Feeling the need for a rest, Jess and Mich instead opted to go for a bit of a tourist day, checking out Crafts and Things in Glencoe, which was sadly too busy to accommodate us for coffee and cake, so went instead for a little explore, otter spotting (not spotting any otters), sampling the fine offerings at the deli and café in Ballachulish and scoping out possible new route potential at the slate quarries. Not, it turns out, a likely contender for the mighty Dinorwic!
Andy and Stevies route from the day before sounded too good for Jess to miss, so she went to do a repeat of that, while the rest went back to the Ben to see if anything might be free. A very early start, finding not a car parking space free, didn’t inspire much hope. Car duly abandoned, they headed up to a very busy hill. Blue skies and almost perfect clarity though, made it easier to find somewhere quiet(er) to head to - Central Gully Right-Hand. Still feeling the effects of Norwegian FOMO, Andy quickly calculated which pitch to give Stevie so that he could have the ice pitch and even managed to add most of the last pitch to this, for a greedy little 63m run. feeling somewhat satisfied, he let Stevie finish the last pitch, to plough up the last 10m snowy ramp and top out into the sun. A lovely picnic was had at the top to celebrate, before heading down a beautifully stepped out number 4 gulley and long trudge back to the carpark. (thanks Tim Neill for your top trainer descent tip!) Later in the evening, by the fire, all agreed Scottish winter meet MK2 had been, despite unseasonal conditions, a very worthwhile trip.
Thanks all for your attendance. Already looking forward to next year!
Waters Cottage week meet
February 19th – 26th
Waters Cottage is the FRCC’s hut in the Kinlochleven area – it was the first of the club’s Scottish huts. Waters Cottage forms an ideal base for walking or climbing in the Western Highlands with easy access to the Mamores, the Glen Coe hills and Ben Nevis.
Fingers crossed for blue skies and white ground!
** Now open to all members**
£12 per night payable in advance please.