Today we decided to tackle Meall a’Bhuiridh and Creise from Glen Coe ski Centre. I can’t think of a better way to start a long weekend than with promising weather forecasts and an abundance of Munros to climb. The two hour jaunt up to Glen Coe from Glasgow is filled with stunning scenery that never fails to impress and when stuck behind four lorries and a thirty car convoy it’s easier and safer to just sit back and enjoy the journey.
A few rain showers hit us as we snaked our way along the A82 but it was sunny and relatively calm when we arrived. A quick pit stop in the Centre and we boldly set off towards the start of the walk [13:00].
From the car park the slope you need to climb looks easy but the path that follows the chair lifts up is a lot steeper and harder going than expected. Half way up we were both breathing heavily. The Ski centre below had clearly sheltered us from the wind when we arrived but now in the open it was kicking up furiously into our faces. Conveniently enough it’s worth pausing even this early on to look down Glen Coe and with the light and dark of showers and sun playing across the land it was worth every second. About three quarters of the way up the wagging legs of a couple using the chair lift to reach the top amused and annoyed me in equal measure. I smiled, waved back and found myself hoping they weren't doing the Munros as that would be "cheating". (Fyi they weren't)
Once the slope eased and with our legs aching and lungs close to bursting; we looked at the map and got our bearings. Creise looked majestic; framed by ominous dark clouds whilst the sun caught the remnants of winter snow. Meall a’Bhuiridh on our left was less interesting.
The wind grew in strength here and with our heads down we soldiered on. We made our way past the chairlift station at the top and crossed a metal bridge. In our research we read about red markings on a cycle path as the easiest way to approach Meall a’Bhuiridh however we could see none. We walked along a different path towards Creag Dhubh for about 50 meters when Creise disappeared into blackness. Seconds later a brutal barrage of hailstones smashed through us. We quickly found a large boulder and hunkered down out of the shower. To be honest we felt a little unprepared for this level of exposure.
We analysed the map and agreed this wasn’t right, we decided to turn back and go down a path we saw on our left earlier. When we got there the hailstones passed and the sun returned. We fleetingly discussed giving up and going home but let’s face it Munro walking is about: Challenging conditions and hard work. If you wait for nice weather all the time you'll never do it. We pushed on along the new path and found some red markings which made our minds up to continue. For anyone walking this route in a similar situation those markings are really only visible when descending the Munro as they're a guide for the bikes coming down not up! When you see the sign for a cycle track that's what you want.
The climb up Meall a’Bhuiridh was solitary and dull. We paused for a break after the grassy section near where the highest chairlifts go and when looking back were greeted with a rainbow below us which was special. That image alone made the trip worth it. We reached the summit of Meall a’Bhuiridh at 15:45. The wind was very strong here so we took a couple of pictures, tried to have a quick bite to eat eventually pushing onto Creise.
The descent down to the bealach was easy enough, fatigue was slightly setting in but once down 20 meters the wind dropped significantly making conversation possible which perked us up a bit. (Only once did it rear its head blowing my hat off, recovered luckily.)
We worked our way up the boulder section just where the bealach joins the Clach Leathad Ridge. This was the most arduous scrambling of the day and even then not to difficult. It was a little ominous as a massive overhang of snow is still precariously sitting there. We climbed around this but the snow was unavoidable. We chose the shortest route and worked our way up 3 meters of the white stuff. Without crampons it felt a bit iffy but we worked slowly and as securely as we could and made it up with no hassle.
On the ridge we bumped into a solo walker. We swapped pleasantries (Mainly about the weather) But didn't hang about because the wind was especially fierce here. We made it to the summit of Creise at 16:30. Again we didn't hang about, a couple more pictures and then we bee-lined it back along the ridge. We gingerly climbed down our path in the snow then worked our way down the boulders. We retraced our steps back up Meall a’Bhuiridh but decided to skirt around the summit at the earliest convenience. I think it saved us a good half an hour. The return route was the reverse of the ascent. Breaking it into stages really helped stave off the fatigue. We made it back to the car 5 and half hours later at 18:30.
A quick change of clothes, a well earned coffee and cake in the ski cafe and then the 2 hour drive home. All in all a tough but memorable day!
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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.