As if to apologize for yesterday’s rain-fest we were treated to a spectacular mountain day today, climbing Stob Ban in the Mamores.
The forecast was for intermittent snow showers (rather than rain), with gusting winds and occasional blizzard conditions, and we had all of that – but interspersed with moments of blue skies and sunshine. From the car park in Glen Nevis we walked up the left of the stream into the corrie. there was little to worry about in terms of avalanche risk, with just ankle deep powder and graupel on the ground.
The views were at their best here, with the Aonach Eagach across the glen in front of us. Crampons were left off for the the rocky climb up the East ridge over loose quartzite boulders to the summit. We headed onwards down the north ridge, with some interesting sections of narrow ridge and scrambling on the descent.
The wind was picking up noticeably now, and the blown snow made for poor visibility at times before we reached the boggy (and incredibly slippery) ground for the last couple of K back to the cars.
With today’s forecast featuring 100mph winds and rain coming in from the North, we drove down to Glencoe hoping to make the most of the day before the conditions got too bad. Rob’s choice of route was to head up to Coire nan Lochan, between two of the ‘Three Sisters of Glencoe’. This valley lies parallel to the more famous “Hidden Valley” where the MacDonald clan reputedly used to hide rustled Campbell cattle. It’s a long and steep walk-in but with a well maintained path for a good part of the way.
As we reached the corrie proper the rain started to come down, and we put on crampons (and waterproofs) and headed onto the ridge towards the summit. The summit ridge is rocky and awkward to walk while wearing crampons, so we stopped before the summit and headed back into the corrie to look at making snow bollards and ice axe belays. The snow was definitely wetter than yesterday, and the rain and rising temperatures could make things interesting tomorrow.
The rain continued all the way back to the cars (so few photos) and we headed to the Clachaig Inn for Hot Chocolates, beers and an opportunity to dry out a bit before the journey back to Fort William.
I now have five pairs of gloves drying out…
The first day of the Winter Skills course with Rob was spent looking at basic axe, boot and crampon skills. We met at Rob’s rented cottage for tea and a look at the weather and avalanche risks before driving over to the Nevis Range ski lifts and taking the Gondola up to get to the snowline quickly. Apart from the dry ski slope all other runs are still closed, but there was a good dusting of fresh snow and a firm base on the leeward eastern slopes.
As the forecast for the rest of the week is for wetter, windier and, generally, more Scottish weather, we seized the opportunity and daggered our way up the steep slope onto the ridge and headed on up to the summit, rewarded with great views of the Ben and Carn Mor Dearg.
After stopping to admire the views and check out the cornices we headed back down towards the gondola
Oh, and if you ever drop your water bottle 30m down a steep snow slope, it’s very handy have a trained Search Dog who’s prepared to act as a retriever… Thanks, Skye.
I’m. on my way to Fort William for a five-day winter skills course with Rob. The forecast is finally looking good, with snow forecast for tomorrow. Rob’s ‘snow dance’ must be working.
There wasn’t much of it in evidence today though, with the fells pretty much bare.
Rather than drive up in one day I stopped in the Lakes on the way up. The “Far Eastern” fells are a short drive off the motorway from Shap, and I was parked at Mardale Head, at the far end of the Haweswater reservoir by 11:30. After a bit more kit faff than usual I was heading up the ridge towards Rough Crag. The ridge is a gem – steep drops down to either side without feeling exposed, and plenty of easy hands-on stuff as you head on and up towards High Street.
The weather on the way up was a bit of everything: Hail, a bit of snow, rain, all mixed together with a very generous helping of wind. The northern side of the ridge was very sheltered, so there were plenty of opportunities to escape the wind. The summit of High Street was in cloud most of the time, but the lower tops of Harter Fell and Mardale Ill Bell occasionally peeked out from underneath it. I stopped to have a bite after the hail stopped, and was rewarded with glorious view back down the ridge over Haweswater, complete with rainbow.
From High Street, it’s an easy walk over Mardale Ill Bell, with views down to the tarn of Blea Water, followed by an incredibly blustery crossing of the Nan Bield pass before the wind abated on the climb to Harter Fell. Again, great views here on the descent of the crags on the northern face.
Lots of folk out on the hills today despite the weather, and despite this being one of the ‘quietest’ parts of the Lake District. I guess I’ve been spending too much time in Wales.
Onwards to Ft. Bill…