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Bidean nam Bian

Bidean nam Bian.   Photo: Scott Muir

Bidean nam Bian is a fabulously complex mountain overlooking Glencoe.  "The Three Sisters" form rocky terminations of ridges that separate Coire Gabhail ("The Lost Valley"), Coire nan Lochan and Coire nam Beith.  All the glens and corries offer great possibilities for gully and face descents, with most of the Grade I and II lines having seen several descents.

With the publication in November 2014 of the Glencoe offpiste guidebook by Kenny Biggin, including Bidean nam Bian, only a few lines will be described here as a taster.    You'll need to go and buy the book to find out about the many other lines in this superb area!  A good wee film of a descent of Central Gully, which is on the North side of the ridge between Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire nan Lochan, can be found here: The SkiMountain Diaries: Episode 4 - Central Gully 

For the routes described, you can access either Coire Gabhail ("The Lost Valley") or Coire nan Lochan from the same sizeable car park, situated by the A82 opposite Gearr Aonach.  There are bridges across the River Coe for each glen.

For Coire Gabhail, once beyond the boulders that guard the entrance to the glen, you should stick to path on the right hand side of the gorge, and make a rising traverse towards the col between the summit of Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire nan Lochan.  This then offers a fine final ascent up a rocky ridge/fine snow arete, depending upon snow cover.

For Coire nan Lochan, the path is obvious, with steps on many sections.  What's on your feet can determine how easy you find the walk in - ski boots won't be pleasant...

Relevant Weather Forecasts

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Relevant Avalanche Forecasts

There is one relevant Scottish Avalanche Information Service forecast for Bidean nam Bian.

This line starts right on the summit of Bidean nam Bian, giving you the possibility of a big descent with suitable snow cover.  In March 2014, it was possible to ski from the summit to the gorge in the Lost Valley, giving 700m of vertical descent.

The face fills readily after South-Westerly storms, but be particularly aware of the avalanche risk, as the line begins with a convex start, followed by a descent into a large bowl.   With good cover, you can ski anywhere on the face.  Away from the obvious fall line from the summit, an optional short chute can be taken in on skiers left if you are needing your fix of gully skiing (it is very short!).

This face is known as "Paradise" in the Glencoe offpiste guidebook.

Looking across to Bidean, and the North-East face from Stob Coire nan Lochan  Photo: Scott Muir
One of the many options to set off from the summit ridge  Photo: Scott Muir
North-East Face is on the left of the ridge.  Photo: Scott Muir
Ascending the final ridge to the summit.   The North-East face and lost valley are below.  Photo: Scott Muir
Approaching the North-East Face below Stob Coire nan Lochan  Photo: Scott Muir
Kenny Biggin takes in an optional short gully on the descent.  Photo: Scott Muir
The angle soon eases.  Photo: Scott Muir
Grid Reference: NN144543

Approximate Start Height: 1150m

Approximate Descent: 500m

General Aspect: Northeast

Climbing Grade: I

Notes: Allegedly a Grade I snow climb, but when banked up, it's not as steep as that.
 

Broad Gully is as straightforward a descent as you could hope for in a graded gully ski.  Wide (as the names suggests), and at quite an amenable angle, it provides a good introduction to gully skiing.  It has the added advantage that is it clearly visible from the car park!

Broad Gully from above  Photo: Scott Muir
Coire nan Lochan.  Photo: Scott Muir
Heading down Broad Gully  Photo: Scott Muir
Heading up Broad Gully  Photo: Scott Muir
Heading up Broad Gully (on the left).  Forked Gully (on the right) can be skied as well.  Photo: Scott Muir
Just above the point where there is a slight change in angle  Photo: Scott Muir
Broad Gully is the obvious right to left slanting corridor, to the right of the summit  Photo: Scott Muir
Grid Reference: NN147550

Approximate Start Height: 1050m

Approximate Descent: 200m

General Aspect: Northeast

Climbing Grade: I

Notes: Straightforward for the grade.
 
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