Southern Highlands Spotlight

Pamela Millar on the first ascent of Emstead Grooves (III), Beinn an Dothaidh. This 105m-long mixed route climbs ground to the right of Emel Ridge. (Photo Martin Holland)

The Bridge of Orchy cliffs to the south of Glen Coe have seen a fair amount of activity over the last few days. The crags are now well frozen and have escaped the very heavy snowfalls further east.

In the North-East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh, there have been ascents of all the modern classics such as Ménage a Trois, Pas de Deux and The Skraeling. On November 25 on the left side of the coire, Martin Holland and Pamela Millar climbed a new line named Emstead Grooves (III) up the mixed ground to the right of Emel Ridge.

Across on Beinn an Socach the classic fault-line of Second Coming had an ascent and Stuart MacFarlane and Gary Houston had a near miss on The Sting (V,6). They had to abseil off below the top pitch in the dark having just climbed the crux pitch (the 4c corner of summer Scorpion). “This corner is superb,” Stuart told me. “In my opinion, it is one of the finest pitches in the Southern Highlands.” The Sting was first climbed in January 1991 by Graham Little and Kev Howett and may not have seen a repeat in the intervening 20 years.

Roger Everett and I ventured further west on Sunday November 28 and visited Beinn Eunaich. We climbed the prominent Grade V,5 fault-line to the left of the great cleft of The Black Shoot. This cliff has fascinated me for a long time. The Black Shoot was first climbed in summer by the Victorians at the end of the Nineteenth Century, and it had a winter ascent by Raeburn and company in 1900 at a reputed grade of III, but it looks far harder. Since Raeburn’s visit there have been only two other winter visits prior to ours – the great Jim Bell in 1927 and Graham Little and Dave Saddler in 1986!

About Simon Richardson

Simon Richardson is a passionate Scottish winter climber
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