In the hills again

As you may have read recently I sprained my ankle pretty badly trying to play 5-a-side football at work.  I rested, iced, compressed and elevated it for two weeks and then decided to climb Curved Ridge on Bauchaille Etive Mor to test it out.  It wasn’t quite ready but the walk was fantastic.  Clive, Wilma and Chris came to stay with us in Dundee as part of their “introducing Chris to his Scottish roots” tour.  Clive and Chris were eager to get up a hill while they were here and so we organised to meet Clive’s brother, Des, at the top of Glen Coe to climb this superb ridge up to the summit.

First sightings
Threatening weather
Nice panorama
Bauchaille Etive Mor

We got there in the pouring rain and couldn’t even see the trees on the side of the road let alone the mountain.  Perfect weather in the Highlands!  It got better when the rain cleared and the clouds lifted and we could see our whole route from bottom to top to bottom.  Boots and waterproofs on and off we went.  The two old boys set a cracking pace and I stumbled along as best I could behind them.  I was trying not to bend my ankle and foot more than a couple of degrees as everything was still a bit tender.  It improved once I had warmed up but sent sharp warnings when I forgot.

We stuck our head into the SMC hut and had a look at the lodgings.  The UCT MSC could do worse than to take notes on how to build a proper mountain hut that doesn’t lose its roof every other winter.  From the hut the path curves up around the base of the mountain.  It climbs steadily and the conservation teams have done wonders in shoring up the path with large stones.  As the path rounds the corner you get a super view over Rannoch Moor before it heads steeply upwards through the rock bands to the base of the ridge proper.  This is where it gets fun.  The rock is brilliant – there are hand and foot grips just where you need them.  The exposure increases and there are places where the ridge narrows to just a couple of metres wide and the only way up is on the crest.  As it meets the base of the Rannoch Wall it eases off and allows you to take in the expanse of pinkish rick stretching overhead.  The routes are easier than the wall suggests and I will certainly have to visit again to try some of them out.

There is a short scramble up the ridge and then up and around the base of Crowberry Tower.  It’s a nice moderate scramble to the summit of the little pinnacle with a chance to eyeball the last scramble up to the summit cairn.  The last time I was on the summit – 19th July 2004 – I proposed marriage to Amy after bringing her up the same Curved Ridge.

Walking down the ridge I let the others head along to the next summit while I rested up my ankle ready for the descent.  After much hobbling I managed to soaked my foot in the stream at the bottom to ease the pain and reduce the swelling.  It was still cold two hours later as we neared Dundee.  I am having second thoughts about taking up kayaking again in these frigid highland waters.  But after being in London for so long without real hills it is a joy to be back.

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