Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Romping on rhyolite in Glencoe






Jane kindly gave me a half day pass today so I went for a wander in Glencoe. I started with Barn Wall on the East Face of Aonach Dubh; this is a nice open Grade III scramble on good clean rock. Crossing Aonach Dubh I dropped down the top of Dinnertime Butress until I hit the traversing line of Rhyolite Romp. This Grade I scramble takes advantage of the geology of the West face of this ridge using the breaks between layers of andesite and rhyolite to weave a massive zig zag up the face. I headed along to the top of E butress first, to admire the rock architecture of the ampitheatre there, and then retraced my steps. Recrossing Dinnertime Butress I headed North and East following the narrow, damp terrace with great views across the Glen. After about 800m I reached the imposing rock wall where Yo Yo hangs next to Ossians Cave. The cave (a contender as the birthplace for the 3rd century Scottish bard) is actually the spot where an enormous block has falen out of a dyke leaving a hole with a 45 degree floor approached by a truly grotty spot of Diff climbing (if you can find it under the vegetation and water) that has been the scene of several accidents. The cave is the scene of the first recorded 'climb' in Glencoe by local shepherd Neil Marquis in 1868. Rumour has it that he wasnt the brightest character which probably rings bells with anyone else who has attempted the route. As William Brown writes in the SMCJ in 1896:

'Hands, knees, toes and eyelids had to be awkwardly spread over a mixture of mud and vegetable which affords a support as treacherous as it is dirty, and which no respectable mountaineer, having regard for his Norfolk, will care to depend on.'

Today a worn and threadbare rope hangs abandoned from the cave. you would have to be pretty desperate to rely on that in its current state! I dropped beneath the cave and traversed once more back to Dinnertime Butres to descend to the Glen floor and An Torr car park (the best place to park for the Stob Coire nam Beith path at the moment due to the ongoing bridge replacement work at the Clachaig junction).

3 comments:

Peter Duggan said...

Have you seen the grade for Ossian's Ladder in Gary Latter's new guidebook? ;-)

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