On the eve before leaving, stoats gathered at Dilshads for the annual pre-trip curry. With some still to pack and others raring to go everyone enjoyed a curry whilst discussing stormy conditions up in the highlands, hoping for snowy peaks. With the president absent, max the previous mountain sec did not forget the most important tradition! A banana for Arron to compliment his curry.
Alarm clocks rang early for the lucky few meeting at the gear cupboard, for this was the only time gear could be collected over Christmas! With the key not to be found, there looked to be a delay in the plan, but many hands made light work and the overweight gear cars were soon trundling to North Gate through a red light or two…
Gear was distributed and car lists decrypted as we hoped that everything and everyone would fit for the long journey up to Glencoe. Setting off this year on time, plans seemed to be going as hoped! With Iestyn the first driver to arrive he left for a boat crossing which would retrieve the casks from Ardgour, with a thirsty fresher in the passenger seat. As others started to arrive the parking arrangements became confused with some going onto the landlady’s driveway much to her disgust. The hut filled quickly and so did the fridge with our freshest stoats having a pep talk from Tom Green and Harry Yarrow for the following days to come.
Psych was high with a blue bird day in the sky! 10 fresh stoats headed out for a Winter Skills day in Coire nan Lochan.
Max, Paul and Arron set out on a bold objective of the Aonach Eagach Ridge as a big first day in the mountains, having a tricky abseil to start with but enjoying beautiful views and excellent scrambling for the rest. Glissading down to the Clachaig to finish!
Several other groups headed up to Bidean Nam Bian to attempt Central Gully or Hourglass Gully, some bailing, others choosing to go on. Suboptimal conditions made an easy gully a bold ascent but everyone had a great day regardless!
Rich, Tash and Livia headed out for an excellent scramble on the Ballachulish Horseshoe!
<West highland way group before the downpour and gales began...
Stormy weather brought on forced rest days, walks in the valley and creative thinking from Tom and Harry for the WSC.
New Years Eve!
Teams set out early for a big day on new years eve, several groups heading to the Ben for CMD arete, others to Coire nan lochan for Boomerang gully and Dorsal arete, some headed for the Aonach Eagach traverse and finally some to Stob Ban on a ridge scramble.
James, Austyn, Evelyn, Iestyn and Henry heading up Carn Mor Dearg, for the Ben Nevis classis CMD Arete. A mystical CMD Arete...
As tradition, a new years eve poem was read excellently by Nat, Felix, Teddy and Arthur with stoats enjoying the Ardgour Ales abit to much! Followed by fireworks, Bagpipes and dancing with the locals to bring in Hogmanay in true fashion!
< Old Git friendship
A rest day for many Stoats...
Tash, Max, Finlay, Samarth and Jadon on Carn Beag Dearg in high winds >
We waved goodbye to Teddy, Nat, Ed and James who headed to the Cairngorms for some ski touring, a night in a crowded bothy and some climbing the following day! The rest of the group had objectives on the Ben, Coire nan lochan, dry tooling and scrambling. Unfortunately, with conditions rapidly declining, routes like CMD arete and boomerang gully proved too risky so groups bailed. This brought important lessons on decision making and risk assessment in the harsh Scottish mountains!
<Tash, Sarah, Zoe, Dan and Livia on the west highland way
Freezing levels remained high on Wednesday with high winds and rain forecast, forcing a cease in winter climbing for stoats. Instead, groups got out on the West highland way to Fort William, Dry tooling and ridge scrambling.
The final evening was filled with kilted yoga, rice and chips and a visit to the pub for a farewell pint with Arron ending in the General waste bin! Did he beat Maxs efforts from last year? Who knows, but the Mountain Sec bin dive was born. FA. Max Bell 2023.
Last Day :(
Stoats arose early to clean and tidy the hut. Packing bags, returning casks, ramming cars full of gear and saying goodbye to old gits who help each year.
Some snoring, some smiling after a long week in Glencoe. Space was limited but it makes for a good pillow doesn’t it James!
I would like to thank everyone that helped me organise and run this trip, in any way big or small. Thank you to Tom and Harry for running an excellent Winter Skills Course. Thank you to all the old gits who took people out on routes and passed on invaluable knowledge, this is what keeps the club alive, and it wouldn’t have been possible without all of you that came. And finally, thank you to the Midlands association of Mountaineers for your continued support of the club, the grant given allowed the winter skills course to be heavily subsidised and affordable to students who otherwise would have not had this opportunity.
-Arron Burgess (Mountain Secretary)