Climbing on Etive – Padding at its best. Spartan Slab, Hammer and Swastika.

Etive Slabs Memories.

Spartan Slab

I loved the drive down Glen Etive to the end of the road surrounded by Mountains to the loch. The walk in is easy and enjoyable to the foot of these incredible slabs through the ferns. In my early climbing days it had a reputation very unique to Scotland. Over the years I was lucky to climb a good number of the routes with good pals and also introduce a few others to the “Slabs”

Marky Classic Slabs !

These are the classic Slabs to me is the Etive Slabs it’s an amazing place on Beinn Trilleachan. Many who chase the Munros and Corbett’s will have been on this hill and have seen the huge scar of the slabs on the hillside. I have been lucky to climb here often been dragged up many of the harder routes. These are big routes interesting and fairly hard, with long run outs with chance of a fall. I loved climbing here it was such a place and in the early days you met many of the climbing Gods here. If you read the guide book descriptions for the” gallus leader” you may end up with an “Etive Kiss”that is to be avoided. You would meet the woes who of climbing on the apply named Coffin stone where you gear up.Most of the routes meet up near the overlaps where though they are intimidating it can be a social place to be. Names like the moustache and the view down to the “coffin stone” where folk meet are all memories.

 These huge granite slabs are incredible and push the art of padding to another level. Bill Batson on noticing he had left his rock boots. It was in the 80’s and I was glad as I thought we would have an easy day.


When Bill noticed he had no rock boots he still led Hammer 150 metre HVS in trainers. I followed and refused chalk just asking for a pull on the famous scoop. All the “names” were laughing it was that type of place then. We had a great day this was when chalk was just being used to stop the sweaty hands on a lovely warm day. Yet when you get to the belay ledges the views of Loch Etive, Cruachan and the Etive hills are magical. You gear up on the apply named “Coffin Stone “what a name for a worried leader or terrified second.

On another visit we had a grand but late day on the Swastika and did the final pitch when Pam Ayres tried to free it. It was some finish and we just got off before dark and a late night in the Onich Hotel. I will never forget Pam shouting “how do you aid” and worried about the old pegs. Yet we lived to climb another day.

Pam hanging around.

I loved my days here and it’s a place you must visit. It takes a bit of getting used to but you soon get the hang of it. These are huge slabs but what a setting. If there is any wet weeps or rain the fun starts.

Looking back what days we had last time I was there with the RAF team it was a wet day with Big Mark Freestone and Rhys.  Mark became the Team Leader of Lossiemouth MRT on the Classic Spartan Slab he loved it. We had a great day what a route it’s got everything. I hope he takes the teams rock stars keep coming here in the future. It’s some place.

A few years later I was back a lot older the slabs looked steeper now. We decided to climb Spartan Slab it was still damp. On the route we were attacked by wasps it was scary then it rained and we had the ultimate experience on the route with the famous crevasse where I was stung 3 times.

Wasp attack

Read the essay by Robin Campbell on Swastika you will laugh at his descriptive words in Hard Rock. I did this climb a lot once we were nearly benighted on it after a late start. Few climb the top crack that was a bit different from the padding lower down.

Hard Rock

Note: After the elation of climbing on Etive be careful on the descent from the top of the crag. The path has lots of loose granite that act like ball bearings. A fall here may take you over the cliff .

Take care.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Equipment, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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