Buachaille Etive Mor – Slime Wall

The unappealingly named Slime Wall on the Buachaille is actually a fabulous chunk of rock, set on the shady north wall of Great Gully, but as you’d imagine, it needs a dry spell to be in nick. Perfect spot for a Glencoe heatwave, and “only” an hour from the road (bliss after a two hour flog up and down for each of the previous three days).

Room with a view – upstairs chez Paul
Breakfast beneath Anoch Dubh
Cloud cover over the Buachaille, but not for long…
Slime Wall in great nick on the left, overlooking Raven Gully and all set within Great Gully

The big attraction on Slime Wall is Shibboleth  E2 5c, another Hard Rock route. Paul and I had climbed the two crux pitches a couple of decades ago, in considerably slimier conditions, but then ended up bailing from near the finish in a sea of confusion and damp rock (the route finding is notoriously challenging and the guidebook somewhat vague). Rather than cover old ground, we set off up Apparition, E2 5b, with half a thought to tack on the “True Finish” of Shibboleth, making for what we were assured would be a 4* adventure and completing a bit of “unfinished business”. Even the initial 40m 4c pitch felt a little tenuous, and here’s Paul launching up the long 50m P2 – nothing desperate, but plenty of climbing and a perilous sequence of slab moves past the ancient rusting hulk of a peg at 2/3 height.

Andy’s 5b pitch headed out towards the Glen, then up positive but runout territory before making a junction with Shibboleth.

Fab views over to the Ben and beyond…

The “True Finish” launches out rightwards at this point, with gear around a good spike before a steep, blank section with no guarantee of further imminent protection. I had a look but thought better of it, and Paul picked up the gauntlet and powered on upwards. His “it’s only E2 5c – there must be some gear soon” logic proving well founded, compared to my own “they don’t always get it right…”

That left a final 40m 5b or 5c pitch (depending which guidebook you believe) with another bold traverse above a sucking void, before a pull into the bulging finishing crack. I could hardly turn that one down, so set off, dangling huge loops of trailing rope, and was relieved to find that the 5b version was nearer the mark.

Apparition plus the “True Finish” to Shibboleth certainly makes for a grand voyage – getting on for 200m and very sustained at 4c, 5b, 5b, 5c, 5b. Unfinished business completed, Paul and I felt we could finally chalk off Shibboleth as “done”. Just the rather pressing task of getting back down – the descent deserves caution and would be even more grim in the wet. Be careful out there!

The view across onto Slime Wall from across Great Gully

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