Monday, 17 February 2014

Classic Mountaineering - North West at its best (Sun 16 Feb)

The first decent forecast (i.e. low wind) on a weekend saw us desperate to escape the DIY. In need of some hill fitness, a mountaineering day was in order. We chose the A'Chioch traverse on Beinn Bhan. This is a good choice when there is lots of snow, especially when it has come from the south.  The roads were icy, so the drive from Cannich took just over two hours, but we left the road before 9, a good performance for us!

It was a popular choice, with several parties on the route, but it was very sociable and the belays are relatively spacious. The snow was mostly ok (reasonable neve, not powder), turf was firm, and a good track helps. However, there isn't much gear. This is especially true on the last crux pitch, although thankfully the placements are good. Personally I think there are moves of III (as per the Scotland Ridges guide) and with little pro on the crux I think it has serious fall potential, so I think it is closer to III than II. It certainly felt harder than Curved Ridge.

There is quite a bit of snow even on Beinn Bhan. Looking down March Hare looked loaded and the back wall of the coire with Silver Tear there wasn't much ice visible under the soft stuff.