Return to Bidean nam Bian
Gearr Aonach, Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach by Roger Vander Steen

12th October 2010. I returned to Bidean nam Bian for the first time in 34 years and a friend offered to take us up the Zig-Zags on Gearr Aonach. This account has been written from memory and I would be happy for anyone to correct any inaccuracies.

To begin with, the route to the Lost Valley is followed, crossing the footbridge over the River Coe and then passing through a gate. At a large boulder in the path, a path on the right should be taken. At a patch of white rock on the path, alongside a band of rock higher up on the right, a very faint path goes off to the right over grass towards the cliffs of Gearr Aonach. The starting point for the next stage is at a short line of stones where the ground steepens below the cliffs. A path slants uphill to the left and then turns sharply to the right, climbs a slab of rock, and continues along a heathery terrace below vertical cliffs. When this path comes to an end the route turns to the left up a sloping slab of rock with some exposure on the left and then up a short steeper section with good holds. From here a path leads upwards with the cliff on the right. After a while there is a break in the cliff where the path turns right and eventually works round to the left to a narrow rock gully with a small tree growing in it. This leads finally to more open ground at the top of the rock face.

There is a very brief description in “Scrambles in Lochaber” (Cicerone) where it is given as a Grade 1 scramble, although hardly deserving of the grade. Being more of a walker, this route provided me with quite enough excitement.

After this we made for the east ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan and on to Bidean nam Bian. The final climb looks steep but there are no problems; the ground is quite broken up and there are always sections of path which avoid the difficulties.

The wide slope down to the top of the Lost Valley and up to Stob Coire Sgreamhach is straightforward. Rather than negotiate Beinn Fhada we carried on south-east to the 750 metre contour and turned north-east towards the Lairig Eilde. The initial steep grass soon gave way to bands of rock but we were fortunate to find a way through. Looking back, it looked as if it might have been better to keep to the east to begin with, taking care to keep on the west side of the stream lower down where it entered a gorge.  

Finally a brisk walk to the road, where there is a smart new car park.

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