Thursday 24 September 2009

OM Supermeet, Glencoe, 19 - 20th September

After working with Kathryn Telford, Iain had a day and a bit off then spent an afternoon and evening coaching Kye Ettridge in the skills of mountain navigation and night nav on Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District.

The next morning found Iain frantically packing to head off to the Outdoors Magic September Supermeet to be based in Glencoe where Iain was to be running a couple of scottish scrambling days on Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis and the Aonach Eagach in Glencoe.

Iain had three clients booked for both days - all Outdoors Magic members and all returning clients of Kendal Mountaineering Services.

Unfortunately the run of dry weather experienced over the preceeding few weeks chose this weekend to end and having walked in to the foot of Tower Ridge on the Saturday morning the weather was cold, wet, windy & cloudy - definitely not a Tower Ridge day!

The above picture shows Sean, Maria and chris with Tower Ridge in the background - Douglas Gap on the right and somewhere above in the mist - the rest of the ridge. Anyway, these three had never summited on "the Ben" before, so Iain took them via Coire Leis up the south ridge on to the summit before returning via halfway lochan to the car at the Alt A Mhuillin.

The picture right shows Chris Sean & Maria almost back at the car with the Ben in the background. Despite a few gaps in the cloud the mountain didn't really appear all day and then the rain set in for the evening - a good excuse for a second evening in The Claichaig and as usual on a Saturday night, the Boot Bar was very busy.

The weather on Sunday morning dawned much better as this photo shows. Chris was out for a second day with Iain and was joined by Mike & Kelvin - both returning clients from the Outdoors Magic July Supermeet at Rhydd Dhu in North Wales where Iain had run scrambling courses in Snowdonia on Tryfan. The weather started off fair but by the time the party had reached the Summit of Am Bodach at the eastern end of the Aonach Eagach, it was clear that wet weather was moving in from the west.

Despite the changing weather, the party moved together fairly rapidly along the ridge to the interesting section between Meall Dearg and Stob Coire Leith. There are regularly parts where a rope is useful for the less experienced and so for most of the time the party remained roped between Am Bodach and the foot of Stob Coire Leith.
All three clients felt that apart from one exceptionally steep & polished section they would have probably soloed the ridge. Despite that Iain's view is that when paying for the services of a Mountaineering Instructor he has a duty of care and that the use of the rope was appropriate and this point was accepted.
Once off the hard part of the ridge the party rapidly reached the descent into Glen Coe. Guidebooks these days suggest continuing over Sgor Nam Fannaidh and then descending to the valley floor between that & The Pap of Glencoe rather than descending via the side of Clachaig Gully to the Claichaig Inn.
This is due to the fact that the head of the Clachaig Gully is a wide and easy angled scree shoot which steepens & narrows into a deep slot with many vertical drops - it is a place to be avoided and many people have come to grief here. For those in the know there is a footpath descending the rib which parallels the north side of the gully and whilst steep, somewhat exposed in its upper section and unrelenting, it brings you out next to the Clachaig Inn. We reached the Clachaig at 5pm and were ready for a welcome beer.
Clachaig Gully Descent Route If you have never attempted the descent via this route before - avoid it! Only attempt a descent of the path with someone who has done it before and even then you are well advised to steer clear of it altogether in bad weather. Iain Gallagher and Kendal Mountaineering Services accept no liability for anyone choosing to ignore this advice.
After a yet another evening in The Clachaig people departed - some on the Sunday evening and the rest of us on the Monday morning. Everyone seemed well satisfied with the weekend and Ian would like to say a big thanks to everyone who participated and made it such an enjoyable time and particularly to Steve who organised the whole thing.

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