3 min read

A Winter Adventure

First Munro of 2022: Attempting the Buachaille Etive Beag ridge in Glencoe.
A Winter Adventure
Looking up at a snow covered Stob Dubh

In June last year, we started a popular Scottish hobby known as Munro Bagging, you can read more about what that means in my other blog post here. The quick summary is that Munro's are the highest mountains in Scotland, and the goal is to "bag" all 282 of them. Last year we managed to bag 11, which was a good start considering how unfit we had both got during the pandemic.

It's finally reaching the time of year again where we're able to start getting back out into the mountains again, albeit with snow still present in the highlands of Scotland. We had booked a weekend away in Glencoe, and the weather was on our side: it was sunny in Scotland! The only problem was, there was still snow on the ground and we didn't have all the right equipment.

A great path to follow most of the way up

It's worth highlighting: I do not recommend doing what we did, thinking back on it now we were being a bit too ambitious trying to climb these mountains with no crampons, ice axes or experience (and after recently recovering from Covid).

After this experience, we've decided to book ourselves onto a Winter Skills course (hopefully next year) so we know we are safe when out in the mountains.

There have been far too many deaths, injuries and people getting lost in the mountains recently. A lot of that comes down to overconfidence and being underprepared, even while we were out in the mountains last week there were people in shorts(!!) and t-shirts. While it may have been sunny outside, it was still cold with lots of snow on the ground and the weather could turn at any moment. You're always better at being over-prepared than underprepared.

The ridge we attempted was the Buachaille Etive Beag, following the Walkhighlands guide. This website has honestly provided the most guidance and is our go-to for finding routes and assessing how difficult a mountain is going to be to climb based on the number of boots.

Stob Coire Raineach

Because we attempted the ridge at the start of March, snow was still lying on the mountains but we timed it well with the weather that some of the snow had started to melt, leaving one of the peaks, Stob Coire Raineach, much more approachable.  There was a small section just before the saddle between the two mountains covered in snow, but the rest of this one was clear. This Munro gave us beautiful views of the surrounding areas, despite being the smaller of the two mountains on the ridge.

The other peak, however, Stob Dubh, was another story.

This was the first of the two peaks that we attempted but we didn't make it to the top, and honestly, that was one of the smartest moves we made. We weren't fully prepared, and a wiser person may have suggested we shouldn't have attempted it in the first place. I'm glad we turned back when we did, because while we may have been able to push through getting up the mountain, without crampons or an ice axe it would have been dangerous trying to get back down safely.

Stob Dubh

We weren't the only hikers who had to turn back, which did make us feel slightly better about it. We will be back to bag this mountain, because this is such a beautiful area and I can't wait to explore more of it.

Sunset from Isles of Glencoe hotel

Bonus photo of the sunset from outside our hotel room!