Ardverikie Wall

We’re off on another foray north of the border, chasing the sun and dodging showers as usual. There’s no very well defined plan, although it would be nice to tick off some of the remaining gaps in my Hard Rock list whilst we’re here – but that will need the alignment of weather, conditions and location to fall into sync, and the weather seems to have other plans at the moment. An early start found us at Craig a Barns in time for a couple of routes (Springboard and The End – both VS (which should probably be followed by an exclamation mark and a winky face 😉❗) and both excellent).

Scratching our heads afterwards, thinking where to spend the night, we realised we’d found ourselves in vaguely the right place to have a go at Ardverikie Wall with an almost conducive forecast (if 35mph winds and 7C are conducive). Another hour’s drive north and we were settling into the superbly situated Creag Meagaidh carpark. Heavy rain throughout the night suggested there was no point in making an early start, but we woke to blustery sunshine

Why don’t more carparks allow overnight campervan parking in exchange for a donation? Fab spot!

Ardverikie Wall is a 185m HS 4b on Binnein Shuas, and weighs in with 4*s in the guidebook, topped off with the following recommendation: “… the pioneers can think of no other route of the same grading of comparable quality.” It also features in Classic Rock – the more amenable of the Ken Wilson Trilogy. It’s a tick list we’d planned to leave for our dotage but with the stars coming into alignment it seemed rude not to take advantage.

The approach is about 4 miles, with all but the last of these on an almost level Land Rover track – an ideal spot to deploy mountain bikes if we’d brought them:

This loops you round into Lochan nan h-Earba, from the end of which an obvious diagonal path leads the final mile and a couple of hundred metres of ascent to the foot of the crag.

Advertised as “boggy” it’s a surprisingly pleasant last mile despite the heavy overnight rain
Halfway up the diagonal path you finally get your first view of the crag

The crag finally comes into view and the eye is drawn to the smooth, seemingly near-vertical narrow wall that runs its full height. Consulting the guide it’s a surprise to find this IS the line of AW (it looks significantly harder than HS!) Closer scrutiny reveals two teams around 2/3 height (our genius late start strategy had paid off!)

Up closer, the angle is nowhere near as fierce and the rock is heavily featured, making for hugely enjoyable climbing (though gear is somewhat lacking especially on the top half of the first 45m pitch)

We topped out within two hours – just as well, as the 35mph winds and 7C temps made for chilly conditions once it clouded over!

With impeccable timing the first of a couple of heavy showers rolled in just as we set off on the walk back.

A great mountain day snatched from the weather gods!

With more showers forecasted we were surprised to wake to sunshine, and it was an easy decision to stop off to grab a couple of routes at the nearby Creag Dubh. This really is a magnificent crag

We did Fiorella (HVS 4c – the lack of gear above half height had us debating whether there is such a grade as E1 4c) and Cunnulinctus (a much easier and better protected VS 4c)

… before quitting while we were ahead (unlike this team that rolled the dice for “just one more route” on Cunnulinctus!

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