The climbing was great but the snow was terrible. This was Nate's assessment of our climb today and he was spot on. We went to Glen Coe for a change of scene (not that we saw anything much of Ben Nevis yesterday) and climbed North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor. We soon got into the snow which was soft and wet and plentiful. The southerly wind and falling snow yesterday deposited a good cover on the approach walk and the route itself. The snow did make the walk in a bit easier but uncovering the climb was hard won.
Underneath the snow, the rocks were wet but the turf was frozen. In fact, the turf is now wet as well so it has frozen better and is much more useable. We had a few snow showers but not much really and Nate and I enjoyed the stunning views from the climb. The contrast between the bright white snow and the dark glen below was incredible and made the climb feel even bigger than it is. At six pitches with a tricky approach and a bit more scrambling to do at the top, the climb is big enough anyway!
If you follow the line of chimneys all the way to the terrace at the top the technical grade is perhaps a bit harder than if you escape out right before the top. This last section is well protected and does have good hooks but thet are tricky to find and the foot holds are quite sloping for a move or two. This is at the point of most exposure of course! It's a great climb and a favourite of mine although I am looking forward to the snow freezing solid at the weekend. Cold NE winds will bring a marked drop in the temperature during Friday so all this wet soft snow has a good chance of turning into crispy solid stuff.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.