Scottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UKScottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UK
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Start of the traverse on Dorsal Arete. The pinnacle just ahead is normally bypassed on the left to gain the notch beyond.
Dorsal arete & Bidean Nan Bian Map Photos
A neat little route taking you to the summit of one of the most beautiful Scottish mountains in the heart of the Bidean Nan Bian massif in Glencoe.
Area: Central Highlands, Glencoe
Grade: Winter II   what does that mean?
Total Distance: 9 km
Total Ascent: 1290 m
Time: 7 hours
  • Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 Sheet 41
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer 384
  • Harvey Superwalker Glen Coe Map (1:25,000).
  • Avalanche hazard: Once established on Dorsal Arête, the route is relatively safe. However, be wary on the steep approach slopes leading from the corrie floor to the start of the arête, as these are set at a good angle to avalanche!
    Avalanche Forecast area: Glencoe   more
    Gear: A 50-metre rope, a small set of nuts and a couple of slings. Helmets should be worn.
    Alternatives: You can ascend Stob Coire nan Lochan via the 'Zig-Zags' route of Gearr Aonach (winter grade I, althrough rarely in condition nowadays) and continuing up the west ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan. There are numerous other climbing routes in Coire nan Lochan. Broad Gully, immediatley left (SE) of Dorsal Arête, is a straightforward route at winter grade I. Another popular route climbs the broken ground left (E) of the main summit buttress.

    Park at one of the large car parks on the South side of the A82, 6-7 km South of Glencoe village.

    Grid Reference NN171569.


    Make a short descent from the car park to pick up the 'old' road. Follow this west for 350 m and pick up a path heading south which crosses the River Coe via a footbridge at GR NN167556. Ascend the path which follows the left (E) bank of the stream running down from Coire nan Lochan. This path climbs relentlessly to a height of about 700m where steep crags appear to bar the way. The best way from here is normally to bypass the crags on their right (W) via a scree (or snow) filled gully. Climb the gully to reach Corrie nan Lochan above.

    Dorsal Arête to Stob Coire nan Lochan 

    Dorsal Arête is the broad-ish ridge immediately right of a prominent gully called Broad Gully, which is located towards the left hand (E) side of the corrie, just right of the summit block. Reach the foot of the ridge by ascending steep snow slopes. Gain the ridge on relatively easy ground on its left hand side, about 20 m (height) above its lowest point. Climb through easy rock steps until a small pinnacle is reached as the ridge narrows to a knife-edge.

    Make a short, exposed traverse above Broad Gully to avoid the knife-edge (there are usually good options for belays) and then regain the crest to reach a platform below a short, shallow chimney. There is a good block for the belay. Climb the chimney, above which the ground flattens out to reach the summit ridge. A short ascent will take you to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan.

    Bidean Nan Bian 

    Descend the south ridge of Stob Coire nan Lochan until a col is reached and begin the steepish ascent to Bidean nan Bian. Retrace your steps to Stob Coire nan Lochan. The round-trip takes about an hour and can obvioulsy be ommitted in bad weather.


    From the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan, descend the north west ridge in the direction of Aonach Dubh, past Broad Gully and Dorsal Arete, taking care to avoid crags on the left (E). When the ground levels off (about 600m distance), drop back into Coire nan Lochan on your right (E). Return by your ascent path to the car.

    © 2007