If you’ve ever been winter climbing in Scotland, then you understand that with it comes moments of pure joy and moments where your thinking … “Why did I even leave the pub!” If your new to it then 1 day you understand!! The great thing about winter climbing Scotland is that it offers a great range of awesome mountain routes that are readily in abundance one such place is Glen Coe on the west coast.
The most Iconic mountain top in Glen Coe is Buachaille Etive Mòr generally known to climbers simply as The Buachaille. The Buachille offers an amazing range of summer climbing routes and winter climbing routes across the climbing grade ranges from the super hard to the nice and easy. One such route is North Buttress a massive 300-meter grade V – this route was the object for Jack and Siobhan.
The great things about climbing on North buttress is that comes into condition easily and offers some amazing climbing – For me (Jack) this is my first winter climbing trip of the year after being out of the country for several months Siobhan was a different story and had, had a few trips away this year and done several winter trips across the Sharps edge and Striding edge. After a morning of planning, checking the weather and checking again North Buttress was the obvious route based on the poor forecast this was going to be a smash and grab climb. North Buttress is an epic 300-meter-long mountaineering route that involves winter scrambling, Winter climbing and plenty of winter navigation to get off. Getting on the route is relatively simple you can see if from the car park and its not a bad walk in around 1 hour at the most right up to the base of the route nice and easy from there it’s all about picking your way through small sections of winter scrambles and broken ground. The first 100 metres or so is nothing more than just winter walking with some rock in the way! Before we got to the main wall we decided that it was time to kit up and get into the meat of it. We had guessed that it would take us around 6 pitches to climbing the remaining 200 or meters … the route was in perfect condition for the most part with well-protected cracks, corners and slabs it was amazing climbing with just about everything you want we started to see why this was such a popular route one that is worthy of the 3 stars and classic status that it gets.
HOWEVER the last remaining 100 meter or was a different story the slopes where banked out with soft snow often knee to hip deep in places and was much slower going than we would have liked in fact it made for 4 hours of slow going due to the snow being less than helpful. By the time we had got to the top of the Buachille it was now 16.45 and daylight was well and truly going and the forecast we had expected during the route was showing signs of happening. We both agreed it was time to get off so winged on our head torches packed our kit away and took a quick bearing down to the Col which would give way to our exit off the mountain top 2 and half hours later and bish bash bosh we where sitting down in the pub laughing about what quality day we had.
Top tips for winter climbing in the mountain’s
- Always have a plan to get off – whether that on the route or at the top
- Don’t get caught out – Have head torch – Have survival bag – carry plenty of food and layers
- Leave time start early finish early
- Check the weather again and again as well as the Scottish avalanche service those services are there to serve people like us
- Get epic pictures
- Always carry googles – strong winds pick up snow that your eyes like a punch in the face this can make it almost impossible to walk in … Googles solve that problem
- Carry spare gloves and a hat