Sword of Gideon – 4c VS link up with Cioch Nose VD on Sgurr a Chorachain. Grand days.

UKC – climbing – Rock Sandstone Hard

Ray Shaferon on Seord of Gideon – Crag features
The south face gives some excellent rock climbing, minutes from the Applecross road.

This is a Tom Patey classic has one pitch up steep wall that’s makes you think? Access is easy: step out the car in the lay-by and climb. Objective dangers – Nowadays though with the North Coast 500 you could get run over. The rock is superb big holds in places and sculptured rock add in the views it’s like a Welsh or Lake District cliff without the people.

Guide book description – 125m, 4 pitches. Park at week parking spot just below switchbacks on road. Climb can be seen from road (5 min walk in!), first pitch is up the easy rock below the climb proper. Head left up crack/ramp at start of first pitch. Interest on first pitch dwindles after those first few moves. Quite bold at the start. 2nd (crux) pitch starts at the ledge, which can be traversed into if avoiding first pitch. Follow the crack up, then traverse left to belay stance. Fairly good gear. Committing 4a/4b move at start of 3rd pitch on good gear. Straightforward after that. 4th pitch starts at ledge, go straight up. Poss to link 3&4, but scope for good belay at top is poor. Better gear for belay at top of pitch 3.

I climbed it a few times once in the rain it was desperate but my mate Stampy was training for the Eiger North Facev at the time . I have climbed itvwith a link up with the Cioch Nose. The best way into this route climb on to the plateau past the mast and down the gully.

Worth wearing a helmet here loose rock. Continue along the corrie you will see the ridges profile scramble up to the start ( well marked) about 45 min from the finish of Sword of Gideon.

Ready to descend gully to Cioch Nose
Cioch Nose Applecross – many say one of the best for its grade in the UK.

The Cioch Nose – The climb description 450 feet, 7 pitches. First ascent Tom Patey and Chris Boonington August 1960 . An absolute belter of a climb which is best done as part of the A’ Chioch Ridge continuation. Add a few long slings to a light rack. Park at the Bealach na Ba viewpoint and head for the obvious mast. Just short of the summit head east and take the steep path down into Ciore a’ Chaorachain. Gain Middle Ledge by scrambling up A’ Chioch gully for 40m and then right onto a path, the start of the route is 20m past a series of low roofs and starts at an offwidth crack. Pitch 1 (30m, 4a) climb the offwidth and then over some bulges trending left to avoid the small roof, climb a fine corner to a ledge and a choice of belays. Pitch 2 (20m, 4a) thrutch up the awkward corner at the far end of the ledge. Exit right and climb easier ground to reach a thread belay on the one of the best ledges you’ll find in Scotland. Pitch 3 (40m, 4a) traverse right for 3m, enjoying an intermediate amount of exposure, and then up, past a peg runner, climb a series of horizontal breaks trending slightly left towards a chimney. Climb and exit this on the right onto another large ledge with an excellent thread belay. Pitch 4 (30m) go to the far end of the ledge (CN scratched on the rock) and climb a superb, but short-lived layback. Go right around the bulge and take the easiest line up to a chossy ledge and boulder belay. Pitch 5 (20m) scramble easily up and left over blocks to the false summit to a choice of huge belays. Head towards the formidable-looking ridge continuation by dropping down the neck and taking the surprisingly easy to follow path up huge blocks towards the well defined crack in the steepest section of the ridge. Avoid going left past the large gully. Pitch 6 (30m) climb the slab about 10m to the left of the large crack with an awkward move at half-height, to a comfortable thread belay. Pitch 7 (30m) climb up, trending right to easy ground and a choice of solid belays. Delightful scrambling over/around several false summits gets you back to the mast.

The first time I climbed this route was 1980 when I was up with RAF Valley MRT from North Wales. The day before we had climbed the Torridon Trilogy; Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Beinn Alligin a big 12 hour day. We were up for a 10 day grant. It had been hot and we were tired and staying at Lochcarron in the village hall.

One of the lads who had only got the weekend off Dave Tomkins and had been with us on the Trilogy wanted an easy day. It was decided to climb the Cioch Nose at Sgurr a’ Chaorachain. It was already a classic 3 Star route.

We had a leisurely start as we were still aching from the previous day’s efforts. We parked by the main road and walked into the cliff, it was still very warm. The view of the route is with you all the way in and looks pretty wild and intimidating.

We took my dog Teallach he would wait by the crag and enjoy a leisurely day or so we thought. Even he was tired.

There was no path then to the route and we worked our way up the steep ground to the beginning of the climb.
I had been climbing a lot in Wales so this easy “Scottish Diff” would be no problem.

The guide book was a bit vaguer than the description nowadays. Right from the beginning It was an adventure on steep sandstone with some wonderful situations and great climbing.
The traverse out onto the wall on big holds is superb and what a situation. It seemed to go on for ever, it was never to hard but what a place to be. That wonderful book Classic Rock had a great description of the ascent and the old Black and white pictures in big boots and hill bags made this a real mountain adventure. The belay ledges were spacious but in these days there was a lot of loose rock about. Care was needed and still is.

It was a leisurely day climbing that chimney, the steep wall and a real adventure. We continued up the ridge and found a wee pitch above that was pretty tricky.

We were dehydrated and tired yesterday’s efforts hit us. We descended a gully still damp and loose taking care as there was plenty of loose rock in these days.

I was contouring round the ledges to get back to where we had left the dog. We heard barking and he had shuttled of to the Loch as the midges were at him. He was also dragging my rucksack that I had left with him.

He was fine and we headed back to the land rover as we came under midge attack.

We were the first back at the village hall yet it had been a long day as another group were doing the Torridon Trilogy. (in all 12 of our team completed it that trip incredible)

Poor Dave got a few hours’ sleep and then the drive back to North Wales for work epic. No Health and Safety then. Yet what a two days of your young and fit you will enjoy these routes Patey and Bonnington cannot be wrong ?

Classic Cioch Nose Applecross .

The book Classic Rock by Ken Wilson gives a grand write up on Cioch Nose.

When the road is clear in winter it’s a great ice climbing area well worth a look !

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.
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