It’s not been an easy winter for snowsports enthusiasts in Scotland. As a result of above average temperatures and fickle snow conditions, opportunities to get out in the mountains have been few and far between. For many, it’s been a case of pouring over the weather forecasts each day in the hope of a rare cold snap and seizing any opportunities to get out before milder temperatures resume and any snowfall disappears. A frustrating game to play.
It had been over two weeks since the last snow but eventually the forecasts suggested another period of cold weather and precipitation in the western Highlands. This was to be followed by a period of high pressure and settled good weather. With this in mind I pulled together a plan with Tom, an old friend from back home to head out in the hills for a few days.
Driving north from Glasgow, it would have been easy to stop at Glencoe. The snow line was all the way down to the carpark and conditions looked excellent. Not to mention the option of lift-accessed powder laps was a tempting one. Instead we pressed onwards to Kinlochleven, with a different objective in mind.
The Mamores are a mountain range sandwiched between the Grampian range to the north, and Glencoe to the south. It’s a range I’ve not explored previously, however perhaps the bigger temptation was that there seemed to be very little information available about the skiing possibilities the area might offer. Aside from knowledge of a few descents on Stob Ban and advice from a few friends that some of the coires looked promising from a distance, we had very little to go on and there was no guarantee that we'd be able to get much done. We’d decided however to carry lightweight camping gear with us in order that we had the option of staying up high for an extra day if conditions were good.
We initially picked a route up Stob Coire a’Chairn, striking camp on the eastern shoulder of the mountain. This was a spot which was not only centrally located in the range, but also offered superb views of the impressive east face of Am Bodach. Over the ensuing 24-hours, we skied lines on Stob Coire a’Chairn, Am Bodach, Na Gruagaichean and Binnein Mor. Although in lean conditions, we still found a lot to do up there. It was obvious however that a better winter would open up a vast number more options, ranging from fairly mellow descents to much steeper more serious lines. Here's to hoping normal service resumes next year.