Beinn Fhionnlaidh, Argyll (NN095498) Alt. 959m
Coire a' Chait, Alasdair's Buttress (NN093500) Alt. 800m North Facing.
This remote coire located high on Beinn Fhionnlaidh's steep north face remains out of the sun all winter, has superb views to Ben Nevis and beyond and offers visitors a real feeling of solitude. Alasdair's Buttress sits central in the vast coire bowl and has four prominent ice lines that flow over the top. The climbs are all single pitch with an easy descent back to the foot of the buttress so it is possible to complete three or four climbs in a day.
Weather and Conditions:
The ice requires a good prolonged freeze to form thoroughly and previous snow melt may help. Large amounts of snow will make access very arduous and a clear day is best to enjoy the wild surroundings and choose the easiest access line along the mountain's undulating south-west flank.
From the car park at Elleric in Glen Creran take the private road down to Glen Ure and then go left behind Glen Ure Farm house and on into the trees. Take a right fork up hill and when out of the trees strike off left to gain the obvious south-west flank of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. On reaching Lochan Cairn Deirg (Alt. 640m) start a north-east traverse round to Lochan Caorainn (Alt. 690m) beneath the subsidiary top of Caoran. From here traverse round into Coire a' Chait. 2 1/2 - 3 hrs.
Climbs are described from left to right. The easiest route back to the base of the climbs is to the left as you face the buttress. After your day climbing ascend the slopes above the climbs to the summit plateau for the quickest route off.
1. Proximo 45m III*
The left-most ice line that sits in a V-shaped groove. Fun climbing and better after a build up.
2. Maximus 45m III,4***
A big groove just to the right gives the best ice on the buttress with good, thick quantities flowing top to bottom creating some interesting shapes and features. Finish directly up the steep right-hand side near the top for maximum value.
3. Commodus 40m IV,4**
Further right is a large slab with ice flowing down a corner which forms its right side. Continually steep ice of uniform angle covering this large slab. A good climb.
4. Caesar 30m III
A thinly iced slab-corner just to the right. Steep at the base and easing towards the top, this iced slab is often thinner than the other climbs but still entertaining.
5. Slave 60m I
The gully some 40m right of Caesar. An ideal quick route up to above the climbs. Can hold some ice on rocks near the top.
ianstennett - 09/Aug/10
Hi Jamie, will add another photo of the coire to Crag Shots that better shows the location of Alasdair's Buttress in relation to the face. There may well be some ice lower down the natural drainage line from the coire that would go given a good freeze. There could also be some low grade ridge work on either side of the coire that might be worth a look, but not sure of its quality. Above Alasdair's Buttress the coire headwall is generally short and slabby with some steep snow slopes. Certainly the best and most obvious ice lines in the coire were picked off by myself, after several visits waiting for the right weather and conditions. :-)
ianstennett - 11/Aug/10