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Beinn a'Bhuird: Garbh Choire

Beinn a'Bhuird: Garbh Choire.   Photo: Scott Muir

Garbh Choire on Bheinn a'Bhuird is a remote place to visit any time of the year, but in winter/spring, it feels even more so.  That said, it's quite feasible if conditions allow, to use a bike to take a lot of the sting out of the return trip, and it's possible to get here for a day and do more than one run into the corrie. 

Getting there.  

Although not essential, use of a bike from either direction will make both ends of the day easier.  

Tomintoul / Corgarff approach:  This involves a fair bit of ascent and descent on the bike (both directions) before you set off on foot from the footbridge on the River Avon at NJ126059, particularly if you park at Corgarff.  The path from the footbridge up Slochd Mor into Garbh Choire is indistinct, and easily lost. 

Glen Quoich approach:  You should be able to cycle to the foot of the An Diollaid spur, although if the river crossing is difficult you may have to leave the bikes there.  You can either walk or skin up An Diollaid (usually snow on the east side of the ridge), arriving on the plateau at the head of Coire an Dubh Lochan.  This approach may be preferable if you don't like cycling uphill too much with skis on your back, but it does mean that you will expend effort to get back onto the plateau for an easy run down (which may be welcome!).

During the summer of 2014, significant rainfall resulted in sections of the Quoich Water changing course.  As a result, sections of the track and hillside in Glen Quoich were washed away!

Gleann an t-Slugain approach:  The landrover track from Keiloch is cyclable all the way up to the head of the glen, except for a couple of short steep sections.  It is worth pushing the bike up these if there is minimal snow cover.  Once over the top, there is a new path up the glen.  It is also cyclable for another 2.5km, if you don't mind some drainage ditches.  This approach means that you can finish down a run in one of the corries, and the descent on the mountain bike is good as well!

Return to the plateau

The large open slope to the West of Mitre ridge is the easiest route back to the plateau (at about NJ105015).  Make sure you don't cut up too soon behind Mitre Ridge, as there is another buttress below the plateau.  This slope is in itself is a great descent, particularly if you cut in below Mitre Ridge.  The 'Sneck' is the col between Bheinn a'Bhuird and Ben Avon.  If heading south, you may have to walk a fair bit of it, but it offers the least ascent back out of the corrie.

Relevant Weather Forecasts

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Relevant Avalanche Forecasts

There are 2 Scottish Avalanche Information Service forecasts worth considering for Beinn a'Bhuird: Garbh Choire.

If you like really steep snow gullies, then this should be on your list. A steep offshoot of the "High Bay" ramp, it is tucked in behind "Squareface".  As you carefully approach the top, the ground just drops away from you.  The easiest entry to the gully is from skiers right, from a small snow arete perched above some rocks.  It may be useful to check out the entry from the top of "Squareface", or using a rope to get a look over the edge.

The head of the gully rears into a vertical wall of snowice.  You need to angle your slide in to drop below the steepest snow, but not drop too steeply, resulting in a loss of control.   Once established in the gully, the top 50m metres is fairly narrow and very steep.  As the angle eases in the lower section, it opens out a little before joining the ramp below "High Bay". 

Looking into Back Bay Gully from the NW in Garbh Choire  Photo: Scott Muir
In Back Bay Gully, looking back up at the cornice and the steepest section of the ski.  Photo: Scott Muir
Looking back up the ramp towards High Bay.  Photo: Scott Muir
Taken from the top of High Bay, looking towards the top of Squarface (and Back Bay Gully)  Photo: Scott Muir
The location of Back Bay Gully, and the High Bay line from below.  Photo: Scott Muir
The start of the High Bay line, from the top of Back Bay Gully.  Photo: Scott Muir
Grid Reference: NJ112012

Approximate Start Height: 1100m

Approximate Descent: 200m

General Aspect: Northwest

Climbing Grade: II

Notes: Very steep snow.
 

This is the easiest way through the cliffs of Garbh Choire, forming a wide diagonal ramp down the face.  It cuts below one of the most famous easy rock climbs in the country - 'Squareface'.  If the weather is clear, look at the top section.  Yes it's a square, and it's on a face, but without too much imagination, there is a face there...  In summer, this ramp is often used as a descent to Squareface.  In winter, it has the advantage in that it rarely cornices.  However, establishing that is possibly best done from the vicinity of the top of Squareface.

The run is steepest at the top (Grade I ground), but it's over in a couple of turns before you find yourself in a shallow depression known as 'High Bay'.   From there on, it's a wide ramp all the way to the corrie floor.  Be careful not to stray too much to your left on the way down, as there is a cliff below the ramp.

Looking down the line into High Bay  Photo: Scott Muir
Looking back up the ramp towards High Bay.  Photo: Scott Muir
Taken from the top of High Bay, looking towards the top of Squarface (and Back Bay Gully)  Photo: Scott Muir
The location of Back Bay Gully, and the High Bay line from below.  Photo: Scott Muir
The start of the High Bay line, from the top of Back Bay Gully.  Photo: Scott Muir
Grid Reference: NJ013109

Approximate Start Height: 1100m

Approximate Descent: 200m

General Aspect: Northeast

Climbing Grade: n/a

Notes: The short top section into the bay wouldn't be far off grade I
 
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