For a first time visitor two questions -
1) would this crag be good in the next 10 days or so given the amount of rain we've had and
2) what's the latest thinking on the best and most effoicient way to descend. I hear talk of abseils of trees, dodgy descent gullies and long walks off the back.
All info gratefully received!
1) No. Even if the crag was climbable, you’d have trench foot by the time you got there. A dry shod approach in an exceptional spring - like the one we were lucky enough to experience in April 2019 - is delightful. The more typical sustained bog-trot would be a real pain.
2) Traverse right crossing easy slabs from the exit of the main routes, heading for a shallow gully. When this is reached, look down and you should see a situ abseil thread. This is used to effect your escape, and some generous soul had replaced this belay with new static rope, not long after we used it in 2019. The ab is long and covers tricky ground with lots of potential for snagging your ropes. I remember a feeling of relief when we got a clean pull.
I’ve only done one route, but feel quite confident in proclaiming that, if you get the conditions, Creag Shomhairle is ace!
We've not had much rain round Fort William, been climbing most days.
Agreed. The NW has been pretty dry - I think it would be a good time to get out there.
I was climbing there last week (42 years after my last visit!). The crag takes some seepage but there are quick drying routes like The Roost and Hot Pants, so definitely worth a visit.
For the popular routes at the right end of the cliff - best to abseil down Windy Corner (slings in place) but not that easy to find. For The Roost you can abseil from the pinnacle near the top of the route (50m mostly free ab).
We did The Roost - great route, but at some point it's going the collapse in a huge rockfall. I'll post a photo.
Photo of The Roost here https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=367596
The left-hand side of the photo (left of The Roost crack) is going to fall off, it could be tomorrow or it could be in 100 years time. However I dont think the weight of a couple of humans will make any difference, so get there quick its a fine route.
Thanks Neil, good info. Although the locals (see below) suggest it's been pretty dry so I think we're going to go for it. What route did you do?
Good to know someone has been there very recently, that's great. I'm not up for Hot Pants at E4 6b but things like Land of the Dancing Dead, The Roost and Bardo Thodol look great...
You should definitely go for it Martin. The up to date locals' information is far more valuable than my rose tinted memory of skipping over tinder dry bogs on the approach (though that is pretty much what it was like!).
The Roost looks great in Grahame's photo, as well, though his comments on the stability of that bit of the crag are a bit sobering.
We did Bardo Thodol. My Logbook comment reads "As good a 3-pitch mountain route as I’ve done, in a magnificent setting..." That's perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but I really enjoyed the route and (like the approach!) it was in perfect condition - albeit it didn't look like anyone had been up there in years. There was also something special about finally getting to visit a crag Paul Nunn had told me about on many occasions, around 30 years ago...
I'll look forward to hearing how you get on.
Did you get to Shomhairle, Martin, and if so, did you like it...?
Hi Neil - I'm just back from an amazing ten days in the far north:- no rain, no midges, no heavy seas.
Yes, we went to Creag Shomhairle and on the way we learnt how to pronounce the name properly. We did The Roost to warm up and then got onto Bardo Thodol on your enthusiastic recommendation - what an absolutely fabulous route! In my opinion it's the line of the crag once you know where it goes, more so than Land of the Dancing Dead. Had there been anyone else in the area they might have thought we were on an E5, but it climbs beautifully and gave us a very memorable day in the mountains.
We were soaked to the calves in no time on the walk in, but it's such an easy approach that we really didn't mind.
Hi Grahame - see my reply to Neil below - what a great crag. The walk in wasn't too bad and the routes were bone dry -there was some insignificant dampness in a corner on the second pitch of Bardo Thodol but nothing to worry about.
I highly recommend the crag to everyone, and thanks for your encouragement.
there's some really good climbing on Land of the dancing dead too.
To answer my own question, which might be of use to others -
The Roost is best done in one pitch. 25ft up the second pitch there's a bomber ab station that will get you to the ground in a single 40m free hanging abseil.
Getting off Bardo Thanol and other routes in that area is pretty straightforward. We traversed off rightwards along easy ground until we got to what looked like an "obvious" (not a fan of that word in guides) descent gully. I scrambled down a few metres and the ab station was right in front of me. Pulling the ropes afterwards was trouble free, if you abseil from the station keeping to the left (looking into the crag).