12th January, 2008 – Stairway to Heaven, Beinn an Dothaidh

A fantastic start to the year with a climb in an absolutely stunning place with gorgeous weather all day too. Despite an early start, we (Jeremy and I) arrived to find about ten cars already in the car park and most of them already vacated so were pleasantly surprised to arrive at the corrie and find it relatively quiet and, most importantly our preferred routes free of other climbers.

The walk in was brilliant with views of the surroundings mountains being gradually illuminated from top down in various shades of pink and orange as the sun rose, and the higher we walked, the better the views got. Rannoch Moor which was free of snow looked brilliant against the surrounding white mountains.

We ended up climbing Stairway to Heaven after giving up our other choice of Taxus to a party who arrived after us. Very glad we did this as Taxus seemed to be in bad condition and though they started at about the same time as us, they finished a while afterwards after going slow through some sections that should really have been easier had the ice build up been better.

Jeremy lead all three pitches of Stairway to Heaven and seemed not only confident, but very happy about this too thus saving the embarrassment for me and wasted time of a likely retreat from any of the difficult bits. That said, the climbing itself was all straight forward enough, but then I was seconding and had the benefit of the rope above me too! I’d love to be able to relax enough to lead this kind of thing but that won’t be any time soon.

The views en route were great and helped to distract me from the exposure and lack of good protection along the way and after what seemed a reasonably short time (though must have been a few hours) we topped out to the first appearance of wind all day. A new set of views were revealed up top to the south and east and countless peaks, some recognisable and more not were just catching there last light from the sun before it dropped behind some low cloud that was building up.

A quick descent back to the bags left in the corrie basin followed, then a walk out with a crescent moon rising above our climb behind us, and ahead a steady stream of headlights snaking their way homeward along the road after a busy day at the ski centre.

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