Glenmore Lodge Winter Lead Climbing trip
We left London and boarded a train to Aviemore and after 8 hours we found ourselves sitting in a nice little Scottish pub talking about the week’s events. After a short cab ride we were at Glenmore lodge and with a friendly welcome were shown our modern, clean and comfortable rooms and given the week’s itinerary.
The next morning we woke to picture perfect mountains and beautiful blue skies. We met our guide Colin and got to know the rest of our group. After establishing what we wanted to get out of our trip we got packed up and ready to go.
We jumped into the van and headed for the inner corries; today was about Colin having a look at our abilities and matching us up to some great climbs. After an hour’s walk in we came to the bottom of our climb Ewan’s Buttress. It was a nice and enjoyable 3 pitch, Grade 3 mixed climb topping out to see some amazing views as far as Ben Nevis. It was time to head back so after a nice relaxed walk out we sat eating tea and cakes back at the Lodge and planning our next day’s climb.
The next couple of days started at 7am and once again we were met by beautiful clear blue skies. We headed down for a big buffet breakfast and readied ourselves for the climb ahead. We headed for Fiacaill Buttress tucked away in the corries to climb a higher Grade 3, 4 pitch route. After scrambling up the snowfield we were on belay and ready to start our first pitch. After a few minutes in we were met by a beautiful slab of ice and rock, perfect mixed climbing. Before we knew it we were finishing up our fourth and final pitch which finished in a narrow gulley with snow that was like glue. Once we had topped out we spotted our route for the next day. It was big and looked challenging and the more we looked at it the more we wanted to climb it. Needless to say we were all very happy and headed out and back to the lodge for some deliciously cooked Haggis.
The next day was the big day. We headed out for The Mess of Pottage, a buttress about an hour’s walk in, and headed for our climb: the Sidewinder. The Sidewinder was a grade 4, 5 pitch route of steep rock and ice with some very dramatic drops below. We made our way up the steep and long snowfield and traversed to the right, looking up at our daunting climb and down at a long steep slope to the bottom of the buttress. We got to our first pitch and began to set up our belay. After a quick and very cold snack we began to climb on up a very steep and narrow gulley to the second pitch. The climbing was great and very nerve wracking making the whole experience ten times better. Near to the top of our first pitch, we spent a few minutes navigating our way around an overhanging rock where we struggled to get any good axe placements. We were very satisfied when we had done it and sat happily at our second belay. The second pitch was unlike one I had seen before; it twisted around the outside of the buttress, hence the name sidewinder, and took us up and over a very exposed ledge. Looking down a 1000 foot drop, I remember feeling my stomach drop out and loving every second of it. We were now on the third and best pitch. It started by scrambling up a 15 foot rocky and very snowy gulley where we struggled for any good axe placements. Once we were on top of this, it took a sharp turn to the right and squeezed through a small gap between two very big boulders to an amazing section of pure 70 degree ice with a very big and exposed drop below us. Every axe placement felt amazing and so did we. After a quick few photos, we climbed our way to the fourth and final very small belay. From here there was a ten minute climb to the top of the buttress in a tight gulley of powdery snow where we struggled for any good placements. Before we knew it we had topped out and found ourselves battling 40 MPH winds and minus 20 degree conditions. By now we were pumped with adrenaline so headed back down as quickly as we could for the warmer and less windy grounds of Glenmore lodge for tea and cakes. After another hour’s climbing session on the great indoor climbing wall we burned out any energy we had left before heading to the comfortable bar for a few drinks with the friendly staff, a perfect way to end a perfect day.
The next and final day of our trip we woke feeling very tired from the previous day’s events so we decided to take a few hours of the morning to learn a bit more about dry tooling and protection placements. With our new knowledge we headed into the corries for the last time of the week for a relaxed grade 4, 3 pitch climb to practice our newly learnt skills on some mixed routes.
We had a fantastic week and would like to thank the great staff at Glenmore Lodge for an unforgettable time.