The winter of 2021/22 started with a Storm Arwen, which battered Scotland with gale-force northerly winds. These brought little snow, but the combination of low air temperatures and strong winds convinced Martin McKenna and I to take a punt on a high, north-facing, turfy route immediately after the storm. I was also recovering from injury so was keen for something of a moderate grade. Echo Edge (III,4) on Meall Bhuidhe in the Bridge of Orchy seemed a good choice, and the gamble paid off. We approached up surprisingly good water ice in the lower section of Mortal Coil, then moved left onto the ridge proper. The ridge had caught the wind, freezing the turf and giving just enough aesthetic whiteness to justify an ascent. From the summit, we descended to the col and dropped into the Beinn Achaladair crags on the other side of the corrie to climb Apprehension (IV,4), the steep corner on the left of the Premonition buttress. This was first climbed as an ice route so was a bit of an unknown quantity in early-season frozen turf conditions, but it turned out to be a worthwhile outing of V,6 or thereabouts. Needless to say, we didn’t see another soul on the hill all day.
In previous years I’ve had similar early-season outings on other turfy, north-facing crags. Flakewalk (VI,7) on Beinn Donich (taking a left-hand start to avoid some unfrozen turf) and Tainted Elixir (V,6) on Ben Cruachan have both been early-season successes, and the North Face of Beinn an Lochain often catches good conditions early on.