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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Perfect Snow in Glen Coe

Perfect Snow in Glen Coe

Postby maninblack » Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:00 am

Route description: Buachaille Etive Beag

Munros included on this walk: Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)

Date walked: 31/03/2014

Time taken: 4.5 hours

Distance: 9 km

Ascent: 890m

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It hasn't been a good Winter! Too much wind, rain, snow - just too much weather really. My wife and I haven't been out in the hills very much at all, and looking around Walkhighlands quite a few others have kept away too.

So finally some good weather combined with no work this week, and a chance to get out. I was keen to see what the snow was like in Glen Coe as I had heard that there was a lot! The SAIS avalanche report was completely green for Glen Coe (low risk), so Buachaille Etive Beag seemed like a good choice. My wife and I had been up before, years ago, from Glen Etive. So for this solo trip I thought I'd start from the A82 near 'The Study'. The start is actually along the Lairig Eilde, but quickly leaves that route, and heads uphill. The path is excellent, presumably maintain by the National Trust for Scotland.

No snow at the lower levels, but there was plenty at the bealach at 750m. Curiously from here there was very little on the short ascent of Stob Coire Raineach. However, you can see that the other end of the ridge looked a different prospect!
Buachaillie Etive Beag.jpg
Stob Dubh from Stob Coire Raineach

I have to confess that I considered calling it a day, having heard plenty of stories of people falling through cornices. But if experience has taught me one thing, it is that guessing what conditions will be like from a distant view is never a good idea. So a quick photo of the "Big Shepherd of Glen Etive"...

Buachaille Etive Mor.jpg
View across to Buachaillie Etive Mor

...and onwards.

Back to the bealach, and a quick break to refuel. I walked up past the rocks to where the snow was getting steeper, and spent what seemed like ages faffing around with crampons, putting poles away and getting the ice-axe out. Top tip: always remember to tighten your bootlaces BEFORE putting crampons on! View up from the bealach:

From the bealach.jpg
View up from the bealach to the mid-point of the ridge at 902m

I must say that the snow was perfect for walking - soft, supportive, and not icy. I'd heard reports of people wading through deep powder, but it seems to be well consolidated now. And of course those cornices that looked so narrow from the other end of the ridge were very straightforward when viewed from up close. There were long continuous slopes on the north side, but on the south, the snow was confined to a few metres below the top of the ridge.

Some folk probably wouldn't have bothered with the crampons, but the extra security was good as far as I was concerned. The ice-axe was mandatory though- as you can see! My friends and colleagues refer to this (77cm) as my Victorian Ice-Axe, and yes it is old-style, but it works for me.

Bidean Nam Bian from Buachaillie Etive Beag.jpg
Beautiful cornices on Bidean nam Bian

All-in-all, a great day.
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Re: Perfect Snow in Glen Coe

Postby Shug » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:20 am

Was a cracking day up there yesterday.
I was up Buchaille etive beag on sunday and visibility was poor. Didnt bother posting any photos. Just imagine a sheet of grey paper!
I think I found all the soft snow tho. Was more than knee deep in one part just below the bealach.
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