Petestack Blog

2 January 2010

Running on a patchwork quilt

Filed under: Climbing,Running — admin @ 7:39 pm

Today, frustrated in my attempts to land a partner to climb the frozen Steall Falls, I took a run along the road to Caolasnacon to look at another fair-sized cascade I’d been told could give good sport before looping round the back of Garbh Bheinn and down to join the Penstock track at the ‘wee’ dam. But (surprisingly, when the mighty Steall Falls currently seem to be getting climbed by everyone except me) the cascade I’d gone to see isn’t in anything like climbable condition right now. [Edit: not so surprisingly, because it was the wrong one… see my comment of 3 January below!] However, snow conditions over the higher part of my route (topping out at 540m) were still suitably bizarre after all the cold, dry weather, with what I can only really describe as a patchwork quilt (or maybe checkerboard pattern?) of windslab and undisturbed powder leading to successive steps unpredictably sinking in or bouncing back in a manner which made maintaining any kind of rhythm almost impossible.

For the curious, I did check the SAIS Lochaber forecast before setting out, but judged my intended route to be relatively risk-free and ultimately found this almost random pattern of windslab and powder on fairly level ground (notably across the bealach) to be more interesting than worrying. The map shows that I called at The Ice Factor in both directions rather than taking the direct route home along Wade’s Road, but still no climbing partner for tomorrow! Although at least this run has brought me my fifth successive week of 30+ proper hill/trail miles, which I’ve had to chase quite deliberately at times with the dark evenings, wintry conditions and school term finishing just two days before Christmas. What a change from last December (2008), when I was really struggling with some nasty bug, missed all my Christmas concerts (when I’d never missed any in 20 years of teaching) and managed just a solitary short run on Hogmanay!


  1. Re. cascade, it turns out I’d been misdirected and should have been looking about half a mile further up the hill, where I might have found the waterslide described on p259 of the current SMC Glen Coe guide. Which explains why ‘my’ cascade (despite being the only substantial fall at the location I’d been given) was not only not ‘in’, but failed to meet the description of a two-pitch iced slab of comparable stature to Steall Falls, and means that a return visit with climbing gear and a partner has to be on the agenda!

    Comment by admin — 3 January 2010 @ 7:36 pm

  2. […] my mind were The Posse and What’s the Story above Caolasnacon (scene of last Sunday’s misdirected search for ice in the wrong place). So that’s where we went today, although we only had time for the […]

    Pingback by The Caolasnacon Posse « Petestack Blog — 10 January 2010 @ 8:31 pm

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