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Surprisingly pleasant: East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn

With strong SW winds and the freezing level above the summits forecasted, Donna, Caroline and myself headed east to climb the brilliant East Ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn.  It’s a route that is often well covered in snow through the winter, as our prevailing winds pile snow over the summit plateau of Beinn a’Chaorainn and onto the east facing corries and ridges.  The ridge is also quite sheltered from strong SW winds, and so whilst the final approach to the ridge can be exposed to gusts, once on the ridge, it can be remarkably serene by comparison… until reaching the top.

The approach to Beinn a’Chaorainn is a good test of one’s climbing abilities, with a few fallen trees to clamber over.  On reaching the ridge, which always feels like it takes longer than it does, it was clear that the recent thaw had taken quite a toll on the unconsolidated snow, leaving the crest lower down quite bare.  However, we found a handy and interesting snow filled gully just to the right of the ridge and so made an ascent of that until the snow reappeared on the crest higher up.  We continued to look at being slick but safe on alpine style mountaineering terrain.

Part the way up the ridge, the clouds cleared, leaving us with rays of sunshine and clear views, which stayed with us until the top, where the fresh winds joined us too.  We made our way down the southern flank and were back down before the next bout of rain.  Perfect.