Our Scottish trip started so well with the South Ridge Direct of Chir Mhor, but pouring rain on day two meant plans for some big routes on “The Ben” were out and the pressure was on! The far NW was looking good…it needed to be as we drove from Glencoe to Inverness in the rain…it did as we reached Ullapool.
Am Buachaille was climbed the next day and on the walk out Jeremy held back…he’d got 4G and he studied weather forecasts! At the van I was told the NW continued to look the best area, so how about “The Fiddler’s Nose”, a 250m HVS…had I heard of it? The simple answer was no but he convinced me it was a worthwhile route, despite the 2hr walk-in … for mountain man Jeremy no issue, but for this ageing crag rat the hope had been for something closer to the road! My guide gave it two stars, with the overview of “no ordinary route, its ascent was the climax of numerous attempts over the last century” adding some spice!
Next morning the weather was set fair as we headed into what I had assumed would be a dry bog…it was pretty dry, but my light trainers ensured feet soon got wet…a perfect excuse for a whinge! Slowly the ‘Nose’ came into view [well not “The” Nose, that’s in Yosemite!]…I became interested and the walk tolerable.
The Fiddler's Nose comes into view
Like many routes in this far-flung area, the path finally petered out and we found ourselves wandering up steep grassy slopes looking for the correct start. We convinced ourselves we were in the right place and I set off up a slab…but was it the first slab described in the guide?! To add to the confusion our two guides had different descriptions, with one missing out a 40m/5b pitch higher up.
Starting the route
The climbing was always interesting, as was the route finding where we had difficulty matching up to the guide book description on occasions…at one point Jeremy made the observation that the guides were more of a hindrance than help…said as he headed up a grassy 4c corner…a perfect pitch for my mountain man, although he frequently let me know he wished he had a couple of axes!
Jeremy following the first pitch
The crag rat then got the beautiful 5a slab pitch, although some protection would have been appreciated given the remote setting...at least it was a recognisable pitch in the guide confirming we were on route. The final two pitches were soon completed and we found ourselves on the summit of the Fiddler…well Sgurr An Fhidhleir to be correct. The views were stunning and it really is a special area to visit and climb…in fact, a great route, better even for its remoteness from the road [we saw no one else all day] and challenging route finding.
I even managed to keep up with the mountain man on the way out to ensure I had some say as to where the next day’s adventure would be…sadly not a roadside crag, but who could argue with Hell’s Lum!