The path less trod.
5th February 2023
(Above) Coire nan h-Uamha. Beinn a Chaorainn’s largest coire tucked away to the N and NE of the main summit. Out of sight (and out of mind?) for most people save those ascending the East Ridge or doing the grand tour of B.a.C. and Creag Meagaidh summits via Bealach a Bharnish. It’s a quiet place without any defined approach except for some contouring deer tracks here and there. Not a great place to get to in snowy or wet weather when access can be long and tiresome so best saved for cold, bright days, like today, when frozen sphagnum moss and bog – and near-perfect snow-ice – affords fast travel. Some evidence of old cornice and avalanche debris is visible which is not surprising given the steep N and E aspects left & centre in the photo, the two aspects (& all stops in between) that generate the vast majority of avalanche activity in the Scottish Highlands.
(Above) The East Ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn. Still some threatening-looking quite large cornices in place around the rim of a couple of B.a.C’s coires. They’re refrozen at the moment but always worth giving them a wide berth from both above and below. Special care is also needed when navigating in bad weather along the curving lines between Beinn a Chaorainn’s multiple summit tops. When the ‘sky merges with the snowy ground’ (whiteout) best to build some ‘dog legs’ into your navigation plan to keep away from the perils of these snowy cantilevers and the 200m of near vertical rock beneath.
(Above) The Big Picture #1: Beinn a Chaorainn, photographed from near Luiblea.
(Above) The Big Picture #2: Sron a Ghoire and the Post Face of Coire Ardair. Best snow cover is above 850m, though ribbons of snow extend below this height in many places.
(Above) The Big Picture #3: The Post Face of Coire Ardair and the outlying coires of the Carn Liath massif.
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