So What is ‘Eilde Canyon’?
For those of you not into Scottish winter climbing, you might be surprised to find this on our website…. but in the winter of 2010/2011 a group of us spent quite a few days basing ourselves in a couple of Big Tree Campervans in Glencoe and exploring a new ice climbing venue we’d ‘discovered’ just before Christmas. The results speak for themselves below!
From the large new carpark (not shown on most maps) at 188563, a good path leads up Lairig Eilde. Where the path turns due south at 170536, head due west and follow the true right bank of the Alt Coir Eilde which emerges from a deepening gorge/canyon.
Walking up the true right bank of the canyon, a pair of short, steep icefalls (LH icefall: ‘El Mini’, 12m IV,4. RH icefall unclimbed) can be seen, and are accessible by scrambling into the canyon just downstream of them. These are not shown on the topo, and are c. 100m below the Main Canyon.
The Main Canyon is reached by walking further up the true right bank: a large boulder above a pair of trees is and obvious landmark, and c.50m upstream of this (164536) is a slightly squatter boulder, again above a small tree, & opposite an obvious pair of steep, c.40m icefalls. (‘Grotto Icefalls’) – 1 hrs from the road.
To access the Main Canyon, abseil (20m) from the squat boulder (c.8m of slings req) down a steep turfy slope. It is possible to climb back up this slope at c.grade II, but it’s awkward to descend – hence the abseil.
Upstream, there are icefalls on either side of the Canyon, with the impressive ‘The 3 Amigos’ forming the centerpiece. The canyon opens out again above the easy angled icefalls above the upper pool.
Nothing really like this exists in Scotland! The main canyon is around 250m long, 10-15m wide, and 25-40m high walls. Most of the routes form by streams dropping into the canyon, and are 30-40m long.
Altitude of 500m, but also it is very sheltered from the wind, and no sun gets into the canyon! It requires a good freeze, but is pretty resistant to thaws, and may well be in condition fairly often – probably a good indicator is Beinn Udlaidh… if Udlaidh is ‘in’, then Eilde Canyon is worth a visit!
Routes finishing on the true right bank – walk back down to the Abseil Boulder.
Routes finishing on the true left bank, abseil slings & crabs in place 15m back from the top of Andale Andale! (A1), & at small outcrop close to edge of the canyon, just upstream of the finish of El Mixi! (A2).
60m ropes recommended – some routes have belays well back.
6-8 screws, 2 x warthogs, single rack of wires – most routes are pure ice lines. Belays at the top are often in ice, or turf (hence warthogs!), or some exposed rock outcrops.