Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Glen Etive: Ben Starav (63), Beinn nan Aighenan (196) and Glas Bheinn Mhor (145)

Walk date: 12/7/14
My Munro #'s: 262, 263 and 264

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Byn sta-rav - unknown - 1078m
Glas vyn voar - big green/grey hill - 997m
Byn yan yanan - hill of the hinds - 960m

Duration - 09:10 - 19:40
Distance -   21.3km
Total ascent -  1827m
Weather - very pleasant, cloudy but mostly dry
Team - with Paul P
Other hikers: 2 young fast versions of ourselves and one slow old version!

Today's route and track are the blue pairing - the red is tomorrow's!

Hike week 2015 - Day 2 - Sunday

This was a great day which had been overshadowed with a threat of thunder, but that never even nearly materialised this far north.  The worst part of this hike was actually the flat section at the start once the managed path gives out and becomes a full-on bog of squelch!  We later found out that you can skip most of it by staying right up against the river (actually as plotted) before making the turn up along Allt nam Meirleach and ignoring the track into the bog with its dubious promises of a shortcut, but we live and learn!

Once off that bit, there's a river crossing which can be fun (me) or tricky (Paul) depending on your gusto for these things, and then what the book described as 'a brutal ascent' up Ben Starav's long northern ridge.  Having visited every peak in nearby Glencoe before, I didn't think it was that bad.  Having said that, this was where two spritely younger versions of ourselves said their hellos as they left us for dust.  Just wait until they have kids!!!

The top of Ben Starav came quicker than expected and was a fine spot for an early lunch in the still weather, with fine views down over Loch Etive.  Once done, we continued on the crest of the ridge for a while, which was airy but firm, but then saw a tempting good looking path exiting to the south and seemingly toward the next hill, the outlier Beinn nan Aighenan.  The obviousness of the path meant we went for it, but after the initial descent, we found ourselves with no route onward, just a complex mix of rough grass and boulder fields for the next hour!  We were not the only ones to make this mistake as we saw our younger versions later on and they'd done exactly the same!

Once over the rough ground and reacquainted with the path, the route to Beinn nan Aigheanan was fine if not a little scrambly and further than anticipated.  We also got a little rain here but it was finished before the top.  After that the return to the main path and the plod up Glas Bheinn Mhor seemed quick, which was perhaps fortunate seeing that the descent  along Learg Mheuran took quite some time in my mind's eye, and that was only to be followed by our second visit to the bog of delights!

Ah well, a great day really, with that great happy-tired feeling in the legs!

Let the games begin!  Once you've driven a fair way down Etive!

Moody morning clouds over our hills:

Down the Glen:

Nearing the final section to Ben Starav:

Views from Starav over Loch Etive:

Views of the ridge onward from Starav:

Looking back up the ridge and wishing we'd stayed on the good path!

The view over to Beinn nan Aighenan:

On da summit:

Back on the circuit and working on Glas Bheinn Mhor:
Views of Allt Choire Dhuibh:

And back at t'car:

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Mamores: Stob Ban (140) and Mullach nan Coirean (236)

Walk date: 04/07/15
My Munro #'s: 260 and 261

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Stob baan - light-coloured peak - 999m
Mullach nan kooran - Summit of the corries - 939m

Duration - 13:10 - 18:30
Distance -  13.8 km
Total ascent -  1210m
Weather - Low cloud, but some good views, some wind and rain but not spoiling things.
Team - Paul P
Other hikers: 8 in 3 groups, all going the other way!

Hike week 2015 - Day 1 - Saturday

Hurray!  It was finally time to stop planning it from a computer and get out there!  With Paul turning up Friday night, we were clear to set off Saturday morning and be hiking by the afternoon.  With the remaining Munro count at 23, there was a lot less choice than previous years of where to go.  This day saw us heading into Glen Nevis to take my last hills there, this nice little circuit in the Mamores.  This year also saw me testing out a Hero camera that my brother got me on a rucksack mount, but we stopped short of jumping off ledges to get some good shots!

The day wasn't exactly part of a glorious summer, so views were limited, but it just felt great to be getting on with it.  I was pleased that my ongoing sciatica pain didn't impact the walking too much (just the sitting in the car!).  I was also giving my boots another try despite the pain they caused me last year with the re-soling reducing the internal space, although this time most definitely with the insoles removed from the start!

A slight bit of confusion at the road saw us park up too early, but we soon found the official start just after where the road crosses the river and this gave us a good path to follow up onto the ridge.  The hills were impressively green and with nice rocky tops, the character of the hills improving along the link between the two and Mullach nan Coirean itself.  

Our only problem of the day came with the descent through the forests.  With my plotted route not really materialising we were left with a slog down forestry paths which zig-zagged boringly through the dense woods.  After that we were rewarded with an intense swarm of midges at the car.  Ah, most definitely back in the west!!  Still, a pint in the Grog and Gruel rescued matters somewhat!

Here we go again!

The good track up-eth!

Fine views for a while back down:

Coming up on Stob Ban:

Somewhere inbetween!

Ah, the vistas!

Honest, it's this way...

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Loch Treig and Loch Ossian: Chno Dearg (86) and Stob Coire Sgriodain (174)

Walk date: 12/7/14
My Munro #'s: 259

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Knaw jerrack - red nut or red hill - 1046m
Stop kora sgreeaden - peak of the scree corrie - 979m

Duration - 08:00 - 12:30
Distance -  15.8 km
Total ascent -  1257m
Weather - Very wet, cold and windy!
Team - with Paul P
Other hikers: none

Day 8 - Saturday

And lo!  It had to come to an end, both weather-wise and time-wise.  As if by some sort of curse, our doomed, never-climbed hills of last year became our only soaked hills of this year!  

It made sense for us to hit these on our drive homewards as the path up the back started from the private Corrour road.   Despite the dull start, I opted to start without my water proof trousers and to stay in my Merrells, both choices meant that from 30 minutes in I was completely soaked from the waist down.  From about 400m there was no visibility, and our knowledge of the hills became a GPS line and whatever bog/tuft of grass/ rocky outcrop was immediately ahead, all the time while being blown about by the increasing wind.  Ah, I'd missed this!

Without a good view, we snaked inefficiently between small cliffs and gullies up the NE back of Chno Dearg as the long grass and bog made sure we didn't dry out.  Eventually the incline increased and we sensed a summit, but one that left us exposed to the elements full-time.  

We merely patted the summit before beginning the longer-than-expected link between the peaks, which in the cloud was cold and very disorientating, at times being confused despite many GPS and compass checks.

Finally, we reached Stob Coire Sgriodain, but thought of little but returning as quick as we could.  These hills had defeated us before, and despite it being July, we were definitely taking the hint and getting down as soon as we could.  Once finally back down, we each required a full change, and shaky retreat into a warm but smelly car for some much needed food before the long journey back.

8 days, 19 hills; we were back!

A cold summit shot on Sgriodain:
An example of the fine visibility we experienced:

Finally back down below the cloud:

Our last views of the Corrour estate before heading home:

Labels: , , , , ,

Glen Affric and Strathfarrar: Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais (60) [and Carn nan Ghobhar (153) and Sgurr na Ruaidhe (151)]

Walk date: 11/7/14
My Munro #'s: 257

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Skoor a chor a ghlash - peak of the greenish-grey corrie - 1083m

Duration - 11:10 - 17:05
Distance -  17.5 km
Total ascent -  1337m
Weather - Hot day but breezy on top and a little cloudy for a while.
Team - with Paul P
Other hikers: 6 others (1 topless!)

Day 7 - Friday

Today was our furthest trip away from our base as we travelled north to Strathfarrar, a glen I had already been in twice, once two years ago on a day that Paul sat out due to injury, and once the year before with Paul, but in each case in awful weather and with grateful, beaten retreats.

Today was different, today was simply gorgeous!  Sun, minimal wind, clear views.  This was sublime hiking.  However, due to my problematic toes, I only targeted the Munro I hadn't visited, Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais, but I had given Paul the choice of continuing on to Carn nan Ghobhar and Sgurr na Ruaidhe which were the ones he had missed on his sit-out day as I battled with thick snow and gales!  

Due to the great weather today, I decided to stay in my Merrells and see how they faired.  They faired amazing!  The pain was suddenly minimal as feet my were cushioned in a flexing shell, and I sprang along on the soft ground.  Such was the improvement that after summiting on Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais and looking lazily over at the rest of the circuit in superb clarity I declared to Paul that I was sticking with him on the full tour.

Onwards we strode up onto the rocky plain of Carn nan Ghobhar which had been horrible to struggle over in ice, but today the worst it could throw at us was a topless (male) hiker.  From there Sgurr na Ruaidhe  came pretty easy, and then even the descent couldn't dent my enthusiasm.  Marvellous stuff, especially the pint and burger at the Struy Inn afterwards - I just wish I had tried the Merrells earlier!

The start of the day.  Glorious, glorious, sun:
Coming up on Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais:

On top of Sgurr a' Choire Ghlais:

Views from the two additional hills!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Loch Treig and Loch Ossian: Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin (46) and Stob Coire Easain (39)

Walk date: 10/7/14
My Munro #'s: 255 and 256

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Stop kora vane - peak of the middle corrie - 1105m
Stop kora esan - peak of the corrie of the little waterfall - 1115m

Duration - 10:30 - 18:20
Distance -  approx 15 km
Total ascent -  1100m
Weather - Hot, hot, hot again!  Less wind than the day before; no coats even for a stop on the second peak.
Team - with Paul P
Other hikers: none

Day 6 - Thursday

After the feat of the Grey Corries the day before, Paul and I would have been up for a lighter day, but don't be fooled by this hike only having two hills, as they are extremely high ones, and take some getting to!

We parked in Fersit, the tiny hamlet which had mocked us so much last year with our failed attempts on Stob Coire Sgriodain and Chno Dearg in storm conditions, but today we were heading due south instead to the western banks of Loch Treig, and we were hiking in baking sun.  

From the start my toes were giving me problems, with the very slightest downhill incline punishing me severely.  Without a defined route up onto Meall Cian Dearg, we headed up the good path to the marked sheepfold on the 1:25,000 and hoped it would lead to a good path for going further.  It did eventually, but only after a tour of the local bracken fields!  As a hint, head for the 'Pillar (Hydro)' marked on the same scale, and all will be good.

When I say good, I mean steep, but good.  The path winds intricately upwards and it's a good idea not to keep checking where you're headed, as it looks impossible, but possible it is, and before too long, you do reach some version of a lessened incline atop Meall Cian Dearg.

We had a nice rest there as we looked ahead, and enjoyed some good walking across the broad ridge.  Eventually, it does lead to a munro, which is kind of the point, and a fair push is needed to clamber upto Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin's stony top.

After that, it is fairly simple if the weather is good and your toes aren't ruined as you drop down on stony ground between the munros.  I had to take to walking sideways down the slopes, but you do what you must!

We had plotted a recommended route off the NW ridge of Stob Coie Easain, but it seemed much longer, and we quite fancied the idea of retracing our steps and getting back as soon as we could, so we could find the nearest quality pub for some much deserved grub!  By then my toes were burning, but the ale definitely helped!!

Taking a much deserved break at Meall Cian Dearg:

Looking down on Loch Treig:

Coming up on Stob Coire Easain:

Looking back on Mheadhoin from Easain:

Post-hike celebrations at the Stronlossit Inn:

Toe report:

Labels: , , , , ,