George, Liatach - a north west Scottish climbing experience!
Somehow Iíve missed
out visiting the Torridon hills in winter, perhaps because a five hour drive
from Edinburgh never appealed especially when all the usual climbing areas,
Glencoe, Cairngorm, Creag Meagaidh and Ben Nevis,
were only three hours away. But now, as I only have to drive from Aviemore,
there really is no excuse for not going.
An early start was
still necessary as the walk in is fairly long Ė one and a quarter hours
along the Coire Dubh Mor path then another hour to get to Coire Dubh Mor
itself which was where we wanted to explore. This coire is well known for
itís grade V ice climb, Poacherís Fall and we were hoping that the route
would be in condition but if not, then there were other options from the
easy descent gully which is called Way Up to the reliable grade III gully,
When we reached the
Coire, we were a bit disappointed by the lack of continuous ice on Poacherís
Fall so looked elsewhere for the dayís entertainment. George was a
possibility and we waded towards the right-hand side of the Coire through
soft, sugary snow which was often thigh-deep. Hard work for Ron who was
doing the trail-breaking.
The first 100metres
of the route was a straight-forward snow slope and we moved roped together
to reach the more interesting climbing above. This we broke up into four
short pitches which took us firstly up some snow and easy-angled ice to
below a short and steep blocky wall. Ron had to do some nifty balancing to
get up this and the lack of a decent runner high up made the pitch all the
more fun! Then I got to crawl and squirm my way through a blocky cave
exiting out onto the face with a couple of balancey moves. When Ron climbed
this pitch I could hear some grunts as he squeezed through the narrow cave
only these sounded as if they were coming from some troll deep in the heart
of the mountain. His axe appeared first and triggered the image in my mind
of a periscope popping to survey its surroundings!
We thought that was
most of the climbing over and easy ground was above but the route tricked us
there. Ron tackled a strenuous blocky, bulge and finally pulled over it
using a dubious piece of turf and a dodgy hook in the rock for his axe. I
scrabbled and scraped my way up this bit and was glad that I hadnít had to
try and lead it! Then snow slopes to the sunny ridge of Liatach and we just
had to go up onto the summit of Spidean Choire Leith to complete the day.
George, Coire Dubh Mor, Liatach
III, 4**, 200m