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Glen Coe, 26—31 March 2017

Trip report

Author: Erin B.

There was much hype before the trip for proper winter conditions (well at least I hope I wasn’t the only one avidly watching the Glencoe ski resort webcams…) and the chance for 10 of the 14-strong party to complete a 2-day winter skills course. Unfortunately, on the early arrival of myself, Andrew, Alex, David and Paul to Crianlarich Youth Hostel on Saturday evening for an extra night’s stay before the official start of the trip, we realised that this wasn’t really going to be the case.

Nevertheless, we were greeted from first light the following morning with clear blue skies for our attempt of Ben Lui. We probably couldn’t moan too much about perfect summer weather conditions in the Highlands minus the midges, even if it was unnervingly warm…

We managed to get the hire car and what seemed like a life’s supply of equipment and food to the bunkhouse that afternoon and were greeted by a bunkhouse in an absolutely stunning location. The Scottish Mountaineering Club’s Lagangarbh hut is located at the base of Buachaille Etive Mòr, providing many photo opportunities for both us and various other tourists, particularly during the beautiful sunsets and early morning sun of the next few days.

On Monday and Tuesday, the 10 of us signed up for the winter skills course set off with leaders Ian and Richard (aka Papa Smurf) for a combination of navigation, scrambling and winter skills where we found odd patches of snow still remaining. This led us on to Beinn a’ Chrùlaiste on Monday and Buachaille Etive Beag on Tuesday. Once again, the weather was stunning! Andrew, David, Paul and Jose bagged the eastern Mamores on Monday and on Tuesday Andrew and Jose took to the Glenfinnan horseshoe whilst Paul and David completed a scramble up Buachaille Etive Mòr.

On Wednesday nearly the whole party took to routes including Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire nan Lochan and Stob Coire Sgreamhach via the Lost Valley. Unfortunately the weather was a bit of a “ming-fest” compared to the previous three days and we all got particularly damp. Nevertheless, we managed to make good use of the ice axes – especially for posing in photos. Andrew was in typical bagging mode taking Beinn Sgulaird and Beinn Fhionnlaidh.

Spurred on by pub hype, Alex, Bronwen, Seb and I took on Buachaille Etive Mòr via Coire na Tulaich on Thursday in the much better weather than predicted. A combination of swimming, A&E-ing, and running occupied the others. This included the club president running to and from the pub, which led to plans for his impeachment as he had the bunkhouse key… A wild night ensued: venison, haggis, beer, whisky, ginger nut biscuits and nutella, planking, climbing round the kitchen table and the cardboard box game.

Friday was the last official day of the trip, with most of the party leaving after lunch. The weather was as predicted – very wet. Most people didn’t venture from the bunkhouse for too long. David, Bronwen, Bronte and I walked for a while up Lairig Gartain and got soaked through. Bronwen and Bronte then proceeded to swim in the River Coupall outside the bunkhouse. Mad. I suppose we couldn’t get any more wet than we already were. Alex headed up Buachaille Etive Beag.

Andrew, Paul, Alex and I bagged Schiehallion on Saturday morning on our journey back to Cambridge, by far the easiest of the Munros I had climbed that week!

Overall, I absolutely loved this trip. What an amazing group of people to spend a week with and to tick off my first Munros with. A particular highlight was stargazing on Monday night. I’m sure this is a trip that will be repeated, even if now too late in the year for winter skills courses to take place. Thanks to Iain and Richard from Kendal Mountaineering Services for running the altered course for us.

Trip List:

  • David H.
  • Matthew A.
  • Jose G.
  • Paul F.
  • Erin B.
  • Bronwen F.
  • Sebastian P.
  • Prabhvir M.
  • Bronte P.
  • Alex D.
  • Andrew W.
  • David Z.
  • Jilles F.
  • Toby L.