Beautiful sunny Scotland on Creise but beware collapsing snow bridges!

Stob a Ghlais Choire from Munro Creise
Stob a Ghlais Choire from Creise

First time in Glen Etive & an unlucky fall means a bit of a wet day (Munros Completed : Creise (57), Meall a’Bhuiridh (58)).

The forecast was excellent so I had planned my first Munros in the Glen Etive hills. I had been itching to do some Munros in this area for a long time but never as yet had got round to it. Arrived at the Corries ski centre car park at about 09:00 & while it was a good idea to do a short route, the excellent weekend weather meant it was very busy for the skiing.

It was a great day for a winter’s day in the Scottish hills with plenty of snow, clear skies & no wind. I decided rather than ascend directly below the chairlift, to follow a bulldozer track near the lift base for a minute and then headed up the hill on the left besides a fence. There was snow here from the base but it wasn’t deep. The ascent is easy and all was fine until I reached the top of the first chair lift and then fell through a huge snow bridge into a stream below. Not only did my boots get soaked I happened to be close by two girls who were taking photographs, much to their amusement! I was up to my chest in the snow and I struggled to get out, even requiring a helping hand from one of my amused onlookers. I had to find a rock to sit on and take off my boots and wring my socks out which didn’t make a very pleasant walk for the remainder of the day.

After I had sorted myself out, I continued along the N side of the mountain (albeit in very damp boots) out of the sun and about halfway up I put on my crampons. Conditions were good though and it’s a fairly easy angled ascent on crisp snow. I summitted Meall a’Bhuiridh at 12:40 & there were a few skiers there who had walked across from the top of the ski lift in order to see the views.

 

The descent is then WSW down a ridge to a col & then back up the ridge. The ridge is not narrow but a bit rocky, however the snow meant that it is possible to avoid most of the rocky parts. Once on the ridge the route bears N across a plateau with a slight rise at the end to the summit of Creise. The weather was still glorious, bright sunshine & no wind at all. I never like retracing my steps if I can avoid it, always preferring to do a circular route if possible but in retrospect on this occastion it turned out to be a mistake.

The descent curved down gently on firm snow to Stob a Ghlais Choire. From here it steepens quite dramatically & I was slightly anxious at first. However, I have done this many times before where the descent looks really steep but you just pick a good line and use the snow almost for braking. The first part is through a craggy section, but thankfully I had picked up a trail of footprints so followed these all the way down & it turned out to be completely fine in the end. I noticed 2 others ascending a few hundred metres off to my left.

The descent reaches a river which is easy to cross as at this point it is a stream. Now below the snowline it is a flat walk around the hill to reach back to the Corries ski car park. However, this turned out to be a horrible bog fest. The path if there was one was incredibly difficult to determine & where it existed it was just soggy peat. I spent most of the time having to pick my way through the driest parts but on a couple of occasions stepped into watery bog up to my knees. Already wet from the knees down it was a poor end to a good day. Eventually returned at 16:30 and apart from having spent most of the day with soaking wet feet in boots it had been a wonderful winters day out.
I really enjoyed my coffee at the Good Food Café at the end of the day. They always do a great coffee and the real log fire adds to the warmth of the place.