on Curved Ridge (Buachaille Etive Mor)
Saturday 11th June 2004
Don't know what tempted me back on to the curved ridge last weekend, but so glad I did - what a day to remember. I was feeling a bit apprehensive about going along as I have done the curved ridge before and remember thinking, well that was bloody scary; won't be doing it again!! Famous last words!!!!
Set off on Saturday morning, blue skies and sunshine, and after a quick coffee stop at the green welly arrived at Glencoe about 10.00am. Stevie, Caroline, Alison, Michael, Alan and myself set off to do the ridge, while Kathryn and Maureen headed off to Kinlochleven.
Looking at the mountain from the road with its great walls, gullies and buttresses it looks impenetrable byawalker and Curved Ridge is the only scramble available on it. All other routes are for climbers only. There is a hillwalkers' route on the north west, which we had all done previously. Anyway curved ridge is a steep exposed scramble right up the front of the Buachaille.
We took the path path which gently rises round the mountain to the Waterslide. The start of the ridge can be quite difficult to find but our guide Stevie had done this route so many times before he could lead us there blindfolded. We had a look up at the route we would be tackling and Alison and I exchanged a worried glance. The start of the ridge is a bit tricky and exposed but there are good handholds and before long Rannoch Moor was disappearing beneath our feet.
We climbed upwards till we reached a spacious ledge/terrace immediately beneath a large (and very steep) slab/face. The less experienced of us (naming no names) found this next bit a little challenging and Stevie got out the confidence rope, however I for one was too scared to let go of anything to put the rope round me so decided the best thing to do was cling on and climb. We then reached a large ledge where, legs shaking, adrenalin rushing, we stopped for lunch. From here we had a great view of the climbers on Rannoch Wall.
After a wee rendition of a well know Glencoe folk song, sung with the voices of angels [Angels of Death more like - webmaster], we were on the move again. More scrambling and climbing, lots of exposure, which was both exhilirating and scary, (at one point I could see Alan hugging a rock as though he had fallen in love with it and was never going to let it go) and we eventually reached the bottom of crowberry tower. Caroline and I had both climbed this before so we reluctantly??? agreed to be the photographers for the rest of the crew who climbed to the top - Michael being really adventurous, climbing straight up the front of the tower, ignoring the obvious route, with a sheer drop below.
Photoshoot over we continued on our way and all agreed that the last scramble to the top of the mountain was fantastic. At the top we stopped to have a break and congratulate each other on our achievement.
Michael, Alan, Stevie and Caroline descended the mountain via the "scree route" in less than and hour while Alison and I lesiurely walked down the tourist path. We met up with Brian (who had cycled from Ardrossan to Glencoe) at the bottom and headed off to the pub where we met up with Kathryn and Maureen for a little light refreshment (as you do).
A fantastic day out in good company and yes I would do it again. Thanks to Stevie who was a great leader on the day, helping and encouraging everyone. You wore the confidence rope with style and panache and I think we're all glad that none of us actually had to use it (wouldn't have liked to spoil your mountain man look) Thanks too to Michael who lent me his shoulder at the chimney when I couldn't find a handhold -hope you are still able to walk upright. Thanks to Alan and Alison for being as scared as I was. Finally must comment on Caroline who is obviously a natural climber - your speed and agility was very impressive - just watch out for rocks that jump out at your head!!! - p.s. your taste in music is impeccable.
Photos: Michael Nicol
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