Monday, May 23, 2016

Highlands trip day 2: Curved Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor

Today we return to the very impressive east face of the Buachaille Etive Mor. We saw this as we were driving towards Glen Coe on the first day and took a couple pictures, today's the day to climb it (well, to scramble up it).
in front of Buachaille Etive Mor while driving in
After parking we head along a service road towards the face of the mountain, past a small house with a parking lot (complete with guy who's camped there overnight) and a van with three guys clearly planning on climbing. Onward we go, across the plain and then slowly starting to climb as we cross in front of the rock face. After going what seems like further than we should have needed to (and checking with the GPS map once, we're bad), we pass in front of the "waterfall slab", move on a bit further, and then follow a track steeply up. This isn't as well traversed as it seems like it ought to be (or we just have problems following it), so it takes us longer to find our way here than it seems like it should. We eventually hit a wall where we'd need to keep scrambling to continue. Since we think we're not quite there, and since a peek at the GPS map shows us pretty far off where the GPX track is, *and* since scrambling back down in case we get it wrong wouldn't be much fun, we decide to head back down a bit and scout around a bit more. Fortunately, shortly after we make this decision we run into the three climbers; one of them is local and he confirms that our original path was correct. They're planning to climb one of the routes next to our scrambling route, so we just follow them up to where our ways should diverge.

The scrambling up Curved Ridge is just excellent. The rock is really good, holds are abundant, it's generally not too technical, the views are breathtaking (greg really tries not to look down too much, but it's hard not to!), and route finding is pretty easy. It's a complete joy to do. It's a pretty long scramble, but it does still eventually (and unfortunately!) end at the top of the Crowberry Tower. After enjoying the views a bit more, we scout briefly around to see if we can avoid the unpleasant looking climb down to the narrow saddle between Crowberry Tower and Stob Dearg, the main peak. We can't, so down we go (it's not as bad as it looks) to the saddle. From there it's a short easy scramble/hike to the top of Stob Dearg (1022m). We enjoy being up top, soak in the views, talk a bit to one of the other two groups there, eat something, and then head on wards along the ridge.
scrambling up Curved Ridge
from the top of Stob Dearg looking across the plain of Rannoch Moor
The rest is now the usual "you have to go down in order to go up" ridge walking with excellent views to the next peak (Stob na Doire, 1011m). We briefly appreciate the views and head down to the next saddle along the ridge. Here we could continue a bit and bag another Munro, but we avoid that craziness and decide to head back to the car. From the saddle a really nice path leads us down, down, down to the valley floor of the Lairig Gartain and a path that leads us across the high moor and back to the car.
along the ridge after Stob na Doire

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