North Face Route – Central Buttress – The Buachaille
The forecast was looking good for Saturday so the plans for climbing on The Buachaille were on! A busy week saw me only looking into this on the Friday night. Route pictures taken, bags packed and lunch sorted, sleep and off from home just before seven on Saturday morning. Not too early but we only planned on the one route and to enjoy the sunshineJ
Having met Gerry and Mark at Crianlarich, we headed north and things were looking good with lots of blue skies J We parked at the Jacksonville car park and headed down and across the Coupall and boggy ground. Wet feet were experienced as we had decided on approach shoes instead of boots (less to carry on the climb!). One advantage against another I suppose….
We were soon at the bottom of Central Buttress and Mark kicked things off heading up the first pitch. Some nice pitches were enjoyed before reaching the Heather Ledge.
Next was the first “airy” traverse as Mark heading off traversing the face right to left. What a fantastic setting this was and the exposure on this pitch was immense (was to be outdone later on). Watching Mark disappear round the corner with Rannoch Moor to his right was a sight indeed. Soon Gerry followed and I came last, traversing round the edge and climbing up before dropping down to the belay point just below a slanting ledge. The next pitch is said to be the crux and was led by Gerry. Up the slanting shelf to the corner of the wall, up Gerry went making it look easy as ever! This was a relatively short pitch which led us to the base of the Chimney…..
In hindsight I found the Chimney the most difficult part of the route for some reason ??? Not too sure why. Anyway out of the chimney and a committing move takes you across the top of the Chimney and onto the next Pitch – and what a pitch this was to be….
The second traverse of the day and was led by Gerry. This is possibly the best pitch I have experienced so far… Watching Gerry balance along the traverse and I was having doubts whether I would manage!!! All the holds looked like slopers and I couldn’t see any nice jugs from my position at the belay. Exposure…… I thought the first traverse was special, but this outclassed it in every department….. The buttress drops away to the head of Glen Etive and when you commit – you have nothing below your feet until the moor!!
Classic Rock (Tom Weir) describes this well “Going hard left from the chimney top, it crosses a steep wall on balance holds to a soaring edge, exposed above the whole buttress and difficult enough to keep you literally on your toes”
Once on the traverse you head across then up and up and up. I took time to look back a few times and enjoy it. For most of the day we had been sheltered from the wind , but also in the shade and at times it was cold. However as I got onto “the soaring edge” the sun beat down and a keen wind breezed up from lower down in Glen Etive. The sun was welcome as I headed up, now more confidently. This was the best (and longest) pitch and was worth it. Eventually I got to the ledge where Gerry was belaying. Mark was soon brought up. We were all smiles!
A nice pitch then led to the top of the route and we traversed to the top of D Gully buttress where we had lunch and watched climbers on January Jigsaw and Engineers…..
We then descended down Curved ridge and headed back towards the car at Jacksonville…..
A great day was topped off by a wee dook in the Coupall which was surprisingly mildly warmish!! A fantastic outing….
Gerry and Mark all smiles at belay.....
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...