/ Glen Coe: Safer routes after fresh snow, grade I/II

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Kid Spatula - on 10 Jan 2017

Hi all,

Not terribly familiar with Glen Coe having not done a great deal there bar the Aonach Eagach about 20 years ago.

Just looking for some safer routes to do if the current predicted snow dump occurs.

Would Sron Na Larig be okay? Assuming not due to the exit slopes potentially being loaded.

How about Dorsal Arete or Wandering Wombat assuming the slopes up to Stob Coire nan Lochan aren't a bit slidey?

I'm happy to check if conditions are okay when I get there but would rather not waste a trip.
Post edited at 08:34
Sophie G. - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:
You use your eyes on the day, obviously, but I can't see why the topout from Sron na Lairig would be a particular avalanche problem unless it snows *a lot*, enough for there to be avalanche problems everywhere, and enough for you to get tired out wading before you reach the start of the route... there's not much of a base at present, though some of the ground is frozen, so this week's snow will either blow away in the gales or start laying down that base, depending on how much we actually get. (Looks like there'll be more in the west than the east.)

For a good safe Glencoe day out at I/II, in pretty well any non-ridiculous conditions, I think I'd just do a traverse of the main ridges of Bidean, personally--up Beinn Fhada and down by Stob Coire nan Lochan or Stob Coire nam Beith; or maybe up Sron na Lairig and down Beinn Fhada.

Unless it really dumped snow. If it really dumped snow I'd go skiing.

The other thing is: when are you thinking of going? From what I've seen of the forecasts, it's going to storm till the weekend. As I read it, trying to go out before then will be tiresome at best, and possibly unsafe.
Post edited at 10:53
CurlyStevo - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:
Generally in Scotland avalanche risk is associated more strongly with wind direction than anything else. Sure enough the highest risk days do tend to come after heavy snow but then again for that to fall with no wind is rare, and still dangerous conditions can often occur without fresh snow fall just from snow redistribution. Keep an eye on the SAIS forecast and also recent wind directions and strengths and try not to go near any slopes that are recently in lee of the wind direction (unless they've been well scoured from the last event)

A common scenario for really high risk is thaw followed by freeze and then a strong dump of snow from the W -> NW. Many of the climbing areas are E -> N so are in lee of this and the refrozen base makes a slippery surface for all the wind slab to sit on.

The WEST face of Aonach mor isn't that far from glen coe and is a good choice if East facing slopes are loaded (parts of the northern corries have some West in them too which can be a good choice).

The route sophie mentions can be a reasonable choice in some conditions too, I've not done it but you often see people doing it when conditions are a bit dodgey.

Remember just because one aspect is high risk it doesn't rule out your day if you can find a route where all aspects climbed / traversed during the day are low risk. I've had perfectly safe days out when other aspects are treacherous to say the least. Bare in mind the safer wind scoured slopes also tend to produce better icer conditions too!

If you do find you self in somewhat dodgy conditions / aspects well defined ridges do tend to be the safest option but you need to be sure the approach and descent are safe and that higher up the route there won't be any exit slopes / gullys or cornices to contend with.
Post edited at 11:21
Kid Spatula - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:

Not going til Saturday, I'm not a masochist.
CurlyStevo - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:
Dorsal Arete can be ok if conditions are dodgey in the gullies but still acceptable for the approach slopes. The crag apron probably won't be too bad this weekend if the forecast is correct as a strong north wind is forecast on Friday. You may want to watch descending Broad Gully depending how things look on the day.
Post edited at 11:52
Kid Spatula - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Yeah I'm ok with reading avalanche predictions, watching the weather etc. I'm just not familiar with Glen Coe, as most of my climbing has been in the Alps, Snowdonia or the Cairngorms. It's always nice to have recommendations from people who know the area though, and much appreciated!

Luckily I'm not a massive fan of downclimbing steep snow and would rather come down a ridge ;)

CurlyStevo - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:
You can easily descend the arĂȘte to the side of SCNL.

On Aonach Mor west face Golden Oldie etc are all worthwhile and often safe if East faces are loaded. Just avoid any routes with steep turf starts there as they probably won't be frozen this weekend.
Post edited at 11:51
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peebles boy - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:

Not much in the way of exit slopes on Sron na Lairig, but big slopes either side of it can be exciting if windslabbed up, as can the "descent" to Lairaig Eilde, off the col to the SE of ridge/before you get to pt. 778.

East ridge of SCnL combined with Beinn Fhada Ridge?

If it's northerlies coming in with snow, maybe Curved Ridge? (if it's southerlies, exit from top of ridge/Crowberry Gap can be suspect)

If you fancy something off the beaten track, the East Ridge of Stob na Doire on BEM is good fun and you're guaranteed fresh tracks

Not Glencoe, but N ridge of Stob Ban in Mamores?

Rich W Parker - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:

Dinner Time Buttress, WF Aonach Dubh, various option from there for a nice circuit.
Kid Spatula - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Rich W Parker:

Thats another one I'm looking at. Dinner Time Buttress followed by Dorsal Arete.

Zig Zags up to Bheinn Fhada and then something on SNCL looks good as well.
AlH - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Kid Spatula:

Yes zigzags is very popular when its super snowy and stormy high up but always gives a good wee scramble with the option to carry on up to summit of SCNL. One thing to be aware of with Sron Na Lairig is that both the tempting long broad ramp up from the base on the climber's left and the wee coire to the east often used to descend can be avalanche prone in the right (wrong?) conditions.

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