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Sron na Lairig Ridge (RHS of photo) and Stob Coire Sgreamhach.
Close up of the Sron na Lairig.
Sron na Lairig in centre, then Stob Coire Sgreamhach, leading to the Beinn Fhada Ridge.
Nice and interesting start to the ridge up the snowy corner.
Looking back on the exposed section near the top.  Well timed dashes were the key to success!!
Buachaille Etive Beag looking not so Beag...!!
Always satisfying to snatch an unexpected blue skies day.

Sron na Lairig Ridge, Glencoe

Fri 18 Jan 2013

Fortune favours the brave.  And stupid…

It seems like days off and poor forecasts have been going hand in hand for a while, and today was no exception.  With MWIS and MetOffice agreeing for a change, it looked like today was to be very windy with cloud on the tops on the West Coast.  Feeling the need to stretch the legs I duly packed the bag last night anyway.
So glad I did!!!  After a rather interesting drive up to Glencoe, with the van being rocked by the wind and seeing the snow getting blown all over the place on the Creran hills and the Ballachulish Horseshoe, it was surprising to see blue skies on the Glencoe horizon as I drove under the Ballachulish bridge.  Plans looked like coming together for the Sron na Lairig Ridge on the East Ridge of Stob Coire Sgreamhach.  This classic Grade II outing offers a good bit of everything - gullies, mixed and a couple of exposed ridges, as well as plenty opportunities to spice things up in the lower section. 
After a quick walk in along a very frozen path, things slowed down a bit when making my way over to the foot of the ridge.  There’s a lot of fresh snow out there being transported around, making for some very heavy going in hard packed drifts.  However, the sun was shining and the wind seemed to be steady so onwards and upwards saw me taking a nice pitch onto the ridge via a snowed up rock corner.  After that “follow your nose” seemed to be the order of the day, and it was good to stay on the North West side of the ridge out of the cold South Easterlies. 
As expected, the winds increased with height, creating some good sandblasting effects with loose snow being blown about a lot.  The exposed ridge sections at the top were interesting dashes during lulls in the wind, which was picking up a fair bit by this point.  Some steep old snow at the top and then a rapid descent to the south of the ridge saw me back down in the glen and back to the van 5 hours after starting out - happy with that given the snow conditions!!
There’s a lot of snow on the ridge at the moment, but it has also been scoured in places by the strong winds last night and today.  Where this has exposed the turf, it’s started to freeze up really well, but the turf under the deeper snow is still a bit wet in places.  Eilde Canyon may well be worth a visit soon - the stream coming down from Beinn Fhada and joining at GR 164 536 just below the canyon was looking frozen solid, and from the view you get into the canyon from the ridge things looked to be pretty icy.  Worth a look, worst thing to happen is you’d maybe have to console yourself with one of the best winter ridges in Argyll…!!



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