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Blá Bheinn

Blá Bheinn.   Photo: Scott Muir

As you drive towards Torrin, Blá Bheinn dominates the skyline above Loch Slapin.  Hopefully, you will see a snow filled Great Gully to confirm that it was worth the drive for a ski or a board.  However, the real gems on this mountain lie hidden from view on the vast West face: Summit Gully, and Willink's Gully.  Both offer stunning views (assuming the weather is helpful) out to the main Cuillin Ridge, and are superb descents when in condition.

Approach:

From the decent sized car park by the Allt na Dunaiche, walk back across the bridge, and follow the path on the north side of the river up into Coire Uaigneich.  From here you have a few logical choices. 

  1. The easiest and quickest approach is to follow the steep path onto the West ridge, taking you directly to the North top.  Access to all 3 gullies should be straightforward from here. 
  2. Instead of taking the path onto the West ridge, keep heading up the headwall of Coire Uaigneich to the col, then follow the rough SE ridge onto the South Top.  From the south top, there's a slightly awkward descent to the col between the summits. 
  3. Ascend Great Gully itself, which is located between the 2 previously described approaches.

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Starting from the col between the summits, the gully is broad to begin with, leading to a slightly narrower section.  Below this, you are most likely to find snow on skiers right, staying close to the bottom of South Buttress.  The views over Loch Slapin 900m below you are impressive..

The view from above Loch Slapin  Photo: Scott Muir
Hamish Frost in Great Gully  Photo: Scott Muir
Grid Reference: NG529207

Approximate Start Height: 900m

Approximate Descent: 300m

General Aspect: Southeast

Climbing Grade: I

Notes: At the easier end of the spectrum for Grade I
 

Standing at the col between the North and South summits can present a diffcult, but good choice to have: which side of the mountain to ski down?  With Great Gully behind you, Willink's Gully provides an attractive wide gully perfectly framing the main Cuillin Ridge in the distance.  

100m down from the col, the gully splits into 2. On descents 2 weeks apart in March/April 2018, both times the skiers right line was taken, but they both meet lower down again.  The right hand line catches the sun more, which may be helpful on a firm snow day.  Descents have been made to the 600m contour, where the snow ran out into boulders, and an apparent drop beyond, but further exploration may prove fruitful.

You will need to ascend the way you came, but the bonus is that it brings you right out to the top of Great Gully.

Although clearly a summer photo, it shows the distinctive line of Willink's gully well  Photo: Scott Muir
Dave Anderson just above the split in Willink's Gully  Photo: Hamish Frost
Entering Willink's Gully  Photo: Hamish Frost
Grid Reference: NG529207

Approximate Start Height: 900m

Approximate Descent: 300m

General Aspect: West

Climbing Grade: n/a

Notes: The skied section isn't steep enough for Grade I, but who knows what lies below!
 

Slightly unusual in that this descent could be described as a gully and a bit more!  Summit Gully is the broad gully that descends just to the SW of the summit.  The broad upper gully is very appealling and is a straightforward ski.  As the gully bends to skiers right, it becomes narrower, and has a few twists.  However, 80m below the bend, the snow runs out above a drop, and you have to about turn and head back up. 

Back at the bend in the gully, the skiers left side of the bend is formed by a snow arete.  If you get onto this snow arete, you will find a hidden surprise: Pinnacle Gully.  Initially narrower than the upper section of Summit Gully, it soon opens out to the slopes below, and you can ski until the snow runs out.  This combination of the upper section of Summit Gully and Pinnacle Gully give as fine a descent as you are likely to find in the country, and time it right, you could potentially do summit to almost sea level.  It's a long way back up though! 

Looking down the upper section of Summit Gully to the bend.  Note the snow arete giving access to Pinnacle Gully  Photo: Scott Muir
Climbing back out Pinnacle Gully  Photo: Scott Muir
Contemplating the entry into Summit Gully  Photo: Hamish Frost
Hamish Frost and Dave Anderson in Pinnacle Gully  Photo: Scott Muir
In Pinnacle Gully, just below the arete  Photo: Scott Muir
In the dead end of Summit Gully, taken from the point above the drop  Photo: Scott Muir
The upper section of Summit Gully  Photo: Scott Muir
Grid Reference: NG529207

Approximate Start Height: 900m

Approximate Descent: 350m

General Aspect: Northeast

Climbing Grade: n/a

Notes: Never feels steep enough for Grade I
 
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