Saturday, 13 February 2016

Na Gruagaichean - 08 February

Up from the car park in Kinlochleven towards Coire an Locahain and after a bite to eat we decide to avoid the Coire and head for Sgor Eilde Beag.

Initially the climb is fine until we have the  choice of much steeper ground or a very long, only slowly rising traverse which is going to to take us a long way out of our way. As the ground steepens the snow becomes both thinner and icy. Crampons and axes ease an otherwise pretty desperate ascent on steep icy, rock ground - the snow and the frozen turf provide reasonable going but the occasional rocks require care and the Top of Sgurr Eilde Beag is reached without further difficulty. Ahead and above us is the completely clagged-in main ridge which we gain at the South Top (of Binnein Beag).

The going is good along the ridge to Na Gruagaichean despite patches of deep snow, very thin snow 'ledges', and the final steep climb into an uncomfortable wind. Getting down is next and most important part of the day. The Stalker's Path almost directly below the summit is attractive but for the steep ground above it. Leachd Nah-Aire and most of the ridge leading to it are below the cloud base and appear to offer a reasonable route down to the Mamore Lodge track. We decide to try it, following two or three sets of boot prints. Richard has previously descended the end of the ridge and like one of the walkers whose prints we are following we have a look at it and decide it is too dangerous. The side of the ridge provides the final descent we are looking for and we reach Kinlochleven a little after dark.

Snow covered Stob Choire a' Chairn 

Loch Eilde Mor

Richard & Pauline

Loch Eilde Mor

Lunch

The way we came

Loch Eilde Mor

Glas Bheinn

Loch Eilde Mor

Still taking photos

Kinlochleven

Loch Eilde Mor

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