Having done Blaven on the previous Sunday en famille, this was the only other decent looking day weather wise in the week so set off just with 11year old son to do Bruach na Frithe with a plan to consider Am Basteir according to conditions. Got dropped off at Fairy Pool car park (Glenbrittle) in good conditions. This is a shorter approach than from Sligachan. Path from Glenbrittle to Sligachan very clear, just a question of when to leave it. We planned to go up the SW ridge of Fionn Choire, one book was clear that there is a bypass path for when it gets rocky and steep. Forget about that, erosion or rockfalls meant no bypass path although a few very short sections could be found. My son has great balance and goes all day but did not enjoy this at all (he is at 27 Munros now so no slouch). We saw a family with a dog doing the other side and that is clearly easier and I wish we had done that, we met them at the top and they had managed to decide to take that route as it was better for the dog ! Anyway, barring a short squall when it got a bit windy and wet on the ridge the weather was excellent and the mist cleared at the top so the views are just fantastic. Am Basteir and Sgurr na Gillean are right there but when you look at them you just think f###, how on earth do you do those ! The view to the other side wasn't that clear but what is clear is that this set of mountains, barring maybe a couple in Torridon, are by far the toughest around. What a privilege to be up here.
So, looking across to Am Basteir we could see three people with helmets so having munched our lunch we set off to have a close up of it. The wee Bealach na Lice is easy to find, keep to the left (I climbed up the Sgurr a Fionn Choire for a bit of fun, not an easy scramble, take care) then look into the Coire a Basteir to see a traverse path right under the beast of a rock that is Am Basteir. Totally amazing as the rock has an overhang and drips water onto you as you traverse under it. The scree scramble up to the Bealach a Basteir is rough going but not as bad as the ridge we had done earlier. Anyway we got to the start of the Am Basteir rock on the ridge and decided not to go for it because the rock was wet and the mist had pulled back in a bit (we had enough daylight). Plus, the "nick" involves a tricky move apparently (read on, we were lucky on this point) and my son would likely not have been good on that without a rope.
The path down Coire a Basteir is a bugger until you get well down Allt Dearg Beag, slow going and tricky in places, path comes and goes ... From about 400m though it is a real pleasure to bounce back along the track, the water is stunningly clear and some of those pools would be very handy in the summer.
Back to Slighachan Hotel, bumped into the same family from Edinburgh that we had met at the top (they descended via the same route that they came up in Fionn Choire). Then the three climbers from Am Basteir appeared. My son asked them how tough it had been and it I apparently not that bad BUT the handholds in the "nick" have gone as a slice of rock has sheered off - one of the three was a guide and it seems that this is only do-able now with a rope unless you are a decent climber. Photos to follow !
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