Coronation Route. 1st May


Had a great exploratory day with Chris Suttcliffe on the huge Western Buttress of Sron na Ciche today. The Coronation Routes were recorded independently in 1937 (George VI) and 1953 (Elizabeth II) but seem to follow a very similar line. For the new guidebook I reproduced the 1953 description & today it proved fairly accurate on the description side of things but very understated on both the length and severity (by modern standards).

Line diagram of the route

The start was a fierce 10m of thuggy but well protected jamming to leave West Central Gully.

Chris’s bulging forearms were a benefit on pitch 1!

A leftward traverse & layback gained the an easy groove for 70m. This ends abruptly in an undercut bulge as promised in the description which is fairly easily climbed.

Above the “formidable wall” was climbed by “a fine crack, easier than it looks”. This turned out to be a vertical 25m basalt dyke in a similar vein to The Snake but less enclosed. It is also now home to my favourite Link Cam and anyone retrieving it is welcome to keep it.

The Formidable Wall pitch

Heading up into the unknown on the crux pitch.

Chris finishing the crux pitch

Above here was supposed to be the crux, and a rusted old peg just as we crossed the line of Boomerang seemed to confirm this. Luckily it was considerably better rock & protection than the previous pitch and felt a whole lot less stressful. 3 fantastic 50m pitches of easier climbing on beautiful clean rock eventually led us to easier ground above Western Gully.

Chris leading the steep corner on pitch 6 of 7

We then scrambled roped together for another 100m before finally emerging on the SW flank of the mountain.

Shoes off & what did that book say?

There is superb clarity in the air just now and the views across to the hills of Harris and out to Rum, Eigg & Mull were superb

Overall the route took us about 7 hours, had 7 pitches (over 300m) and had 2 pitches with 4c moves. The crux groove was bold & protection was hard to assemble. I’d suggest a modern grade of HVS 4c as more suitable than the old grade of Severe. The climbing was very good and sustained throughout and I’d say it was worth at least 1 star for recommendation.