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Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch


Postby LeithySuburbs » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:30 pm

Date walked: 21/01/2017

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 7.6 km

Ascent: 720m

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Some unseasonably mild and dry weather meant we headed to Skye for the first time in 4 months (an eternity in my book). We made good time on the after work drive from Edinburgh to Glen Brittle where we camped up for the weekend.

In the morning the clag was down to about 600m, which was a little disappointing for our intended route up the N ridge of Sgurr Sgumain. It was an otherwise fine morning and we made good time on the walk up to the lochan in Coire Lagan, with just the odd detour for a scramble or two on the slabs.

DSCN2112.jpg
Coire Lagan slabs

With the clag still down we opted for another route - Lochan Traverse - which was very close and below the cloud. It's a sort of circumflex shaped route crossing the W Buttress of Sgurr Sgumain joining Coire Lagan to the Sgumain Stone Chute (SSC).

There were a couple of fun moves as we made our way along the obvious crack line to the high point of the route.

DSCN2116.jpg
Lochan Traverse crack

From there it was really just a walk to the boulders and scree of the SSC where we had some lunch.

It was sitting here that I noticed we were now very close to the Cioch... The traverse had been fun but had not taken much longer than half an hour and it was only a little after midday. I said that while we were so near it would seem a waste if we were not to - at the very least - wander along the terrace to the base of Cioch Slab. You know, just for a look.

IMG_5113.jpg
the Cioch

However, leaving our lunch perch, Seana managed to go over on her bad ankle and was now in some discomfort. The terrace narrowed at one point between the stone chute and Eastern Gully to give some very enjoyable ("delicate" as the guidebooks like to call it) scrambling. A short climb out Eastern Gully and we were at the wide terrace at the base of Cioch Slab. The rock was dry and, despite the lowering cloud, I could see clearly up to the Cioch.

I matched up lines on the slab to my SMC guidebook and the one option singing to me was Slab Corner route (diff) - short, direct, slabby and on perfect gabbro. That seemed straightforward enough but I was not so sure how I would get back down (there is an easy escape up Eastern Gully and down the SSC but that would take time and there was no way Seana could join me). The only viable option to return to Seana at the terrace was to descend Collie's route (mod). What I could see looked fine but I was a little concerned about route finding doing the route in reverse (having not first ascended it).

DSCN2121.jpg
route up and down Cioch

Anyway, I backed myself, dropped my rucksack and told Seana I would see her in 15-20 minutes. Slab Corner was great fun with deceptively plentiful footholds and the corner itself always nearby offering safety if I got any wobbles. Solo I climb quickly and I was soon near the neck at the base of the Cioch.

DSCN2124.jpg
some numpty 1

DSCN2126.jpg
some numpty 2

There was just one committing move on a polished foothold with an accompanied lack of handholds. With that negotiated, I yanked myself up the final metre to the notch on one of the slings in situ. I breathed and looked back down. That was fun but there was no way I would want to downclimb it without a rope.

The cloud was now thick around me (the only 10 minutes all day that the Cioch wasn't clear...). I crawled along the ledge to the wide crack I would have to climb to reach the top. The rock was polished and now just a litte damp. There was nothing to do but get on with it. I squirmed up the crack making full use of elbows and knees and emerged on the surprisingly small Cioch summit. Maybe it was just the lack of visibility but that was the impression I formed!

IMG_5115.jpg
Cioch summit

A very quick couple of photos and I had the problem of getting down to deal with. I was anxious to get back with nothing to see and Seana waiting. A couple of exploratory looks confirmed that I would have to reverse my ascent route.

IMG_5116.jpg
arete (I know, it's a great photo)

There is nothing particularly technical about the crack but it is just a little wider than one would like (will I get stuck or just slide down if I fall?) and with no little exposure. I thrutched down and crawled back to the notch where I shouted to Seana and hugged the arete for a breather. I was hot and my heart was thumping in my chest. The way to the gully was obvious - along the famous arete and a nice wide ledge with just a couple of scrambly bits.

IMG_5117.jpg
Cioch from arete (another award winner)

I descended the gully to a waterfall where there was an abseil point. I looked left and followed an obvious ledge to the top of the crack on the slab on Collie's Route. This was just where I wanted to be. I edged my way down the crack leaning heavily on my arms for stability. Again, nothing particularly difficult but demanding concentration. I met Seana again at the gully where she had retreated to for shelter from the cold wind.

We picked our way back round to SSC and worked our way down to the corrie floor.

IMG_5119.jpg
Coire Lagan

IMG_5120.jpg
looking back to Cioch

We rejoined the path from the campsite and were back in not too long for a fine evening in the tent.

IMG_5121.jpg
nice end to the day

The Cioch has been a target for a wee while but I never thought I would end up doing it in January!
Last edited by LeithySuburbs on Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby dalavil » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:52 am

Fantastic. Well done.
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby BoyVertiginous » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:19 pm

8) :clap:
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby spiderwebb » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:54 pm

Read that with great interest as its been on my list for some time, but I think I'll wait for some longer days.
Many thanks for posting :D
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:10 am

For me you've really captured the thrill of scrambling in this WHR. Brilliant :clap: :clap: :clap:

And the best place on the planet to experience it..!! :D
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby LeithySuburbs » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:05 pm

Alteknacker wrote:For me you've really captured the thrill of scrambling in this WHR. Brilliant :clap: :clap: :clap:

And the best place on the planet to experience it..!! :D


It is certainly the best place in Scotland!
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby gman » Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:35 pm

Great report :clap:
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby dav2930 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:00 pm

Amazing to have done that in January! Made for a very interesting report.

Brings back fond memories of climbing on Sron na Ciche way back in the '80's, going up the classic combo of Cioch Direct, Arrow Route and Integrity (roped-up of course) - with the obligatory diversion onto the Cioch itself. But that was in June on (mainly) dry rock. Quite a bold effort on your part to solo the Slab Corner in what looked like rather damp conditions. Well done! :clap: :clap:
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Re: Coire Lagan Traverse to the Cioch

Postby rockhopper » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:54 pm

Well done - sounded quite a challenge.
Think I'd take some persuading and it certainly wouldn't be in winter ! - cheers :)
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