A Winter Adventure – Creise, Glencoe

Originally published in April 2015 on my old blog.

Having spent the night parked at the Glencoe ski centre whilst the wind whistled and shrieked around the van, things had not sounded very promising for a good day on the hills come morning. With dawn however, the winds had fallen slightly although they were still energetically gusting and rushing between the hills causing clouds to scud and dance around the peaks as we shouldered our packs and began the walk in to Sron na Creise.

A line of telegraph poles marked our route across the floor of the valley as they marched through a landcape of tussocky bog which because of the cold night was thankfully well frozen. The wind was bitterly cold but the early morning sunlight was beginning to cast a warm glowing light on the snow shining below a beautiful blue sky.


The Buachaille dances with the morning clouds

Rounding the spur of Creag Dhubh,  Sron na Creise comes into view a series of gully lines clearly visible cutting through the rock headwall above its north facing choire. We had wanted to climb the classic Inglis Clarke Ridge, a classic very easy mixed line; but as we approached, it looked more and more out of condition, black buttresses staring back at us  unwelcoming and obviously ice free. The Weep would have been a good fall back option but a) we did not know about it and b) looking back at my photos the fun bits looked buried!


Sron na Creise

Central Gully which is only grade 1 was easy to find, arrow straight it leads up through the cliffs that guarded the choire rim, and was full of good neve making the climbing easy and enjoyable. Unfortunately we could not take advantage of the undoubted magnificence of the situation and views, as by now cloud had entombed the mountain and by the time we reached the summit ridge a bitter wind was blowing.


Not easy to get off route…

From the top of the climbing it’s about a kilometre along a broad ridge to the summit of Criese proper. Following a compass baring we had to make sure we did not stray onto any cornices in the poor visibility, our path illuminated by a watery, hazy sun which barely managed to break through the cloud with any definition.

Having basked in the magnificent summit view we looked to find the route across to a neighbouring munro Meall a Bhuiridh which joins Creise by a very narrow ridge and col about fifty meters below the summit plateau. Visibility was poor and after we had paced out the distance all we could see was the eastern slopes of the mountain falling away steeply into Mam Coire Easain with no obvious lines of weakness to hint where we should descend.

We hunted round in the clag that surrounded us and eventually spotted a small cairn which convinced us we were in the right place, even if the angle of the slope suggested otherwise! Having cautiously descended about 30m vertically, the gradient relented and the ridge line emerged out of the mist as the clouds began to clear to revel the summit cone of Meall a Bhuiridh ahead.


Whales in a stormy sea

Having crossed the windswept col we pulled steeply onto our second Munro of the day and with it the weather changed again. As we reached the summit we broke through just high enough to be clear of the cloud inversion. It was one of those fantastic moments that the hills sometime offer you; like standing on a lonely rock at the edge of the sea, the clouds rolling and boiling around us as the ridges of the surrounding hills broke in and out of view like giant whales surfacing in a stormy sea.

Meall a Bhuiridh is also home to the Glenco ski centre, the lift of which reach almost to the summit. As we descended along the edge of the piste the clouds slowly cleared in front of us revealing the endless stage of Rannoch Moor locked tight in winters grip. A great day.


Dom descends towards the ski centre with Rannoch Moor in the distance

I captured some of the day on video using a mix of go pro head cam and my SLR.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s