Monthly Archives: May 2013

Ben Vane – (114) – 29 May 2013

High Clouds, tiny bit of drizzle, dry and cool finish

(3 hours) From our office windows it was good to see that our weekday evening Munro was going to be relatively dry. A speedy drive after work to the Inveruglass car park and we set off for Ben Vane at 18:30, stopping along the way up to enjoy views of Loch Lomond; Ben Ime and Ben Narnain; the paps of Jura; and Ben More on Mull off in the distance. We reached the summit at 20:30 – just enough time for a quick text pic to Brian to see if we’d made it to the top before his bedtime (we had!) – and got some perspective on other evening Munros to come.

Tonight brought the introduction of our fell running shoes, which seemed like the wrong choice on the ascent as there is actually quite a lot of rock and potential for fun scrambling along the way. Andy did get to enjoy some of it!

The descent, however, confirmed that the shoe choice was a good one and we pretended to be runners on our way back to the car and awaiting supernoodles. The sunset was stunning, bringing us pink clouds and even pinker hills. Unfortunately tonight also brought its first midge bites of the challenge . . . if there’s one thing to be said for the epic winter conditions we’ve experienced it’s that at least the midges were dormant throughout! Back to Glasgow with just enough time for Andy to get a fish supper and for us to prep for work in the morning. Lovely evening, and Jamie had to admit that it certainly is easier and faster to do these mid-week ones without snow (as in our first one, Ben Ime, in January).

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Beinn Tulaichean & Cruach Ardrain – (112 & 113) – 26 May 2013

(3.5 hours) With Andy’s feet still quite sore from our epic Mamores walk-out we decided to keep today short and sweet to prevent any further damage, while still trying to make a dent in our figures. We accessed these from the Inverlochlarig Farm, which is a slightly shorter alternative to accessing them from Crianlarich. A diversion from the typical route led us across grassy slopes with wild pansies (or marsh violets; the jury is out!). With a clap of thunder heard in the distance we were quickly hillwalkers on a mission to move swiftly. And Andy was a man on a mission to get the summits summited and get us back to the car in as little time as possible to minimise time on his feet. Jamie could only keep up by running the odd flat section and as luck would have it there was not much of a descent between the two peaks. We passed a fellow hillwalking couple on our last push up Cruach Ardrain and enjoyed a nice chat with them on the top (with thanks for allowing us a non-self-portrait photo!).

Rather than making an out-and-back with this one we opted for a loop by dropping from Cruach Ardrain back to the river and the main track. We seemed to be channelling the spirit of fell runners as we leapt and ran down the grassy slopes, hopping between tussocks and picking our way between areas of crags. Satisfied with our speedy progress (and more than a little bit sweaty) we enjoyed an extended snack break on a rock at the river before finishing the descent on the track, passing the hydro scheme works on the way back to the car.

A boiling of the stove for some hot drinks and super noodles and we were back on the road toward home, happy to set our boots aside at the end of a full and satisfying weekend.

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Beinn na Lap, Chno Dearg, Stob Coire Sgriodain – (109, 110 & 11) – 25 May 2013

Preparing to leave the Youth Hostel

Preparing to leave the Youth Hostel

Today’s weather was stunning and Jamie bounded out of bed like never before seen with only a five hours of rest in her. Andy attempted to do bounding, but the blisters on his heels and the general fatigue from yesterday’s walk-out made his “bounding” look slightly more like hobbling. We had already conceded that completing the Ramsay Round as originally planned was out of the question, so we set off hoping to achieve as much as possible. Andy’s “stumps” held up well up to Beinn na Lap, where Chuck was able to re-visit the scene of the last Munro of his successful round completed last year.

Summit of Beinn na Lap

Summit of Beinn na Lap

Ascending Beinn na Lap

Ascending Beinn na Lap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the descent between Beinn na Lap and Chno Dearg is long and significant and was the final nail in the coffin for Andy’s feet. At least the sun was shining for the many snack and morale boosts we had throughout the day! Carrie and Chuck powered ahead to get down to Fersit and up two more on the other side of Loch Treig, while we managed to successfully summit Stob Core Sgriodain before Jamie considered the most efficient way to carry or roll Andy down to the valley!

Summit of

Summit of Chno Dearg

On reaching the car park in Fersit Andy’s shoes were off and he was asleep before Jamie had even finished wondering how to get them both back to the car in Glen Nevis. After a walk out to the A86; a hitch from a very kind fellow hill-walker who went out of his way to get Jamie to the road junction at Spean Bridge; the most perfectly timed Citylink bus EVER from Spean Bridge to Fort William (Jamie literally got out of the car and the bus serendipitously pulled up 50 metres down the road); a walk down the Glen Nevis road; and another kind driver took pity and gave Jamie a lift all the way back to the car. Pizzas in Inverlochy were devoured before we found a place to park up for the night and much-needed kip.

Summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain

Summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain

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The Mamores – Mullach nan Coirean, Stob Ban, Sgurr an Iubhair (ex-Munro but we did it anyway!), Sgurr a’Mhaim, Am Bodach, Stob Coire a’Chairn, An Gearanach, Na Grugaichean, Binnein Mor, Sgurr Eilde Mor, Binnein Beag (99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107 & 108) – 24 May 2013

5-word weather: Could not have been better! (So this is finally Spring!?)

(17 hours {13.5 actually moving vs snacking or sunning}; 31 miles; 3500m ascent)

Today’s route was chosen by Carrie and Jamie, who wanted to lay eyes on the Ramsay Round before potentially running it in sub-24 hours one day. We conceded that covering these 23 Munros as a round is perhaps not the most logical way of tackling them, but logic doesn’t have a permanent role in this challenge so we decided to go for it anyway!

We got a later start than initially planned, based first on a later arrival to Glen Nevis the night before due to work commitments, then based on the usual faffage and “to ice axe or not to ice axe” question (“to not ice axe” was the answer).

The most difficult route finding part of the day was, as is often the case, just finding the trail off the main forestry road. Once found, it led us nicely up stony steps and we made progress with ease. We then crossed a stile of a deer fence and it was as if no one had stepped foot there ever before us. We crossed and climbed open grass hills before again coming across a social path up and over our first ridge of the day.

Reaching Stob Ban was an exciting moment, as our 100th Munro of the year, with thanks to Brian and Kath for supplying our 100th hill celebratory dark chocolate!

Number 100 with chocolate!

Number 100 with chocolate!

Next noteworthy figure will be 141 (halfway), which seems within reach. Perhaps by then Andy will agree that we’ve started!

Today’s forecast was for 90% chance of cloud-free Munros, so it was no coincidence that with the exception of our first summit the rest of the ten were reached in glorious sunshine.

There were grassy ascents and stony descents; scrambling along the Devil’s ridge and admiring views across to snowy Ben Nevis and eventually to Loch Trieg.

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The ascent of Sgurr Eilde Mor from the saddle was an out-an-back so we ditched our packs (with the exception of Chuck, who felt that would be cheating!) and bombed up and down with a great sense of weightlessness.

Back down to the saddle and it was a bit of a traverse followed by an unpleasantly surprising scree ascent to summit Binnein Beag. But with the sun shining and the knowledge that this was the last ascent of the day we powered on and were rewarded with great views of the Grey Corries, Ben Nevis, and other summits still to be done in 2013.

Andy leaping along Devil's Ridge

Andy leaping along Devil’s Ridge

The descent from our 10th Munro of the day started out down grassy slopes, which was a pleasant surprise following the scree ascent on the other side. We dropped down to the valley toward the river, unpleasantly surprised by the “trail,” which was little more than well-trodden bog (Jamie was particularly disappointed that she’d carried spare shoes in order to have dry feet for this part of the day but the hiking boots stayed on seeing as the ground was soggy). It was another 15km walking along the river until we reached Loch Treig, where the trail became a road-like track leading us through toward Corrour Station, Loch Ossian, and our waiting beds at the Loch Ossian Youth Hostel. Many thanks to Jan, the manager, for receiving the parcel we had posted to ourselves with tonight’s dinner, sleeping sheets, and provisions for the following day so that we had as little to carry as possible. And thanks to Chuck and Carrie for speeding ahead to make tomorrow’s sandwiches and get the supernoodle water boilingJ Today was a long, successful day with 10 Munros achieved; just a shame that we were exhausted and Andy’s feet were in agony by the time we finally finished!

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Meall Glas, Sgiath Chiall, Meall Ghaordie (96, 97 & 98) – 18 May

Today was a bit of a clear up effort . . . the original plan was to take our bikes up to Linn of Dee to cycle into a few in that area. But the forecast was grim and the various friends who had suggested joining us bailed one by one as the realisation sunk in that spending 11 hours in the rain was not high on their list of things to do! Andy initially suggested that we stick with Plan A of doing the big drive up to Braemar, suggesting that we save the “close” routes for bad weather days. Jamie then kindly pointed out that a forecast that includes sleet and gales is, in fact, “bad”! So we headed to Glen Lochay to polish off a few we had missed in that area on previous outings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was our first use of cycles for the challenge and it proved fruitful. We cycled the first few kilometres with ease along the tarmac and then on an easy track, before breaking a serious sweat pushing our bikes a further distance up the track until we reached the junction that we would return to later. The motivation to continue pushing a bike up a hill was sustained only by the knowledge that the zoom down later would be worth it!

Just when Jamie thought she was good at push-ups, this happened!

Just when Jamie thought she was good at push-ups, this happened!

The weather held out for us initially and we enjoyed a lovely early lunch in the sunshine between Meall Glas and Sgiath Chiall. The ascent to Sgiath Chiall was much easier than it first appeared from the glen– steep but absolutely hike’able (poles help!) and we were pleased to be at our second summit of the day before noon. With good visibility our jog back toward the valley was enjoyable, though we accidentally startled a few lambs along the way!

Onto the bikes and we had a few “free miles” descending back to the car (though could have done without the headwind for the last few kilometres!). It started to rain just as we got the bikes back on the car and began the short drive to the start of Meall Ghaordie.

After a snack and a hot drink we began the climb over grassy slopes to Meall Ghaordie. The wind quickly picked up and we were thankful for our early start so that our first two were not in such tough conditions. The stronger winds and accompanying sideways rain proved to be an energy and motivation-zapper for Andy, who consumed a fair few sweets to get him to the top! The summit provided a welcoming shelter cairn, where we gathered our reserves to get us back to the car.

There had originally been talk of also tackling Stuc a’Chroin today, seeing as it was only 5:00 and we were back at the car. But with a forecast due to deteriorate from what were already yuck conditions we decided to save Stuc a Chroin for another day and get ourselves home at a remarkably reasonable time! This one is still (crazily?!) set aside as a weeknight option so will see which lucky Wednesday earns the Stuc a Chroin prize!

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Ben Vorlich: The Layman’s Version from Jenny & James – 14 May 2013

Ben Vorlich: The Layman’s Version (written by Jenny and James following their visit, and after reading our own wee report of our Ben Vorlich adventures; still holding the award for longest journey to participate in Munro’age)

Summit of Ben Vorlich

Summit of Ben Vorlich

 

The album cover?

The album cover?

Jamie got the first part right – we really did get to see every weather type that Scotland has to offer (except that rare and elusive thing called “warm”).  But as for what Jamie wrote after that, I feel that we should provide a bit of perspective for those of you who are reading this who are not as driven, fit, or, well, challenge-oriented as Jamie and Andy are.

The fact that Jamie and Andy even agreed to take us on their adventure is pretty remarkable in and of itself – James and I are not in their category of outdoorsy-ness, although we do like to hike and camp, don’t get me wrong.  When we arrived at Jamie and Andy’s house (after fortuitously running into Andy at the train station) we were greeted by a lovely welcome basket full of Scottish goodies, and a room full of gear and clothing for us to sort through for our adventures. Jenny & James visit 340I think James and I began to get a peek into what we’d signed up for…dry bags, fifty-five layers of warm clothing, PFDs (not  a life jacket, mind you), rain-proof pants, hiking boots, you name it).  While we didn’t have a lot with us, we did have rain coats and socks and fleeces, and Andy was impressed that James had smart wool attire, but if it hadn’t been for Jamie and Andy’s stuff we would have been woefully unprepared for what awaited us.  In any case, the next morning we did indeed pile 4 kayaks on the top of their car for use on our loch-not-Munro-day (and by the way, please note that Jamie and Andy spent a good part of an afternoon a few weeks ago working out how to best get 4 kayaks on the car in the first place), and then headed northwest of Glasgow. Let the adventures begin!

A point of clarification: Jamie and Andy’s idea of a “few leisurely hours up to the summit” is a bit different than most people’s; for them it was leisurely…I am sure they could have run circles (literally) around us the entire time. And while I wouldn’t say it was technically challenging (well, not Ben Vorlich anyway), our much more out-of-shape visiting selves worked relatively hard to make sure we kept going through rain, and fog, and sleet, and snow (no joke).  Luckily everything was beautiful, even through the various elements.  Turning around and seeing sunshine and a rainbow over the loch was pretty spectacular and definitely kept us motivated to keep going. Scotland is beautiful despite the chilly weather, and we got to see it from perspectives that I’d wager most visitors don’t!  The 360 view from the top of Ben Vorlich was awesome and definitely worth the hike!  I’d say the photo of Andy tossing the snowball after he and Jamie raced to the top of the mini-peak is one of my favorites….their energy is never-ending and clearly we were going too slowly to make this a challenging Munro for them!

While we didn’t make it all the way up the second Munro, James and I were glad to hear that Jamie and Andy could approach it from another angle and wouldn’t have to re-ascend Ben Vorlich – not that they probably would mind.  We wish we lived just a little bit closer so that we could try to ascend one or two more with them (some of the easy ones, mind you, even if I have to wear stuff that makes me look like I belong in a Crayola Crayon box).Jenny & James visit 733

Each time James or I tell people about Jamie and Andy’s Munros-in-a-year challenge, the number of Munros they have to climb increases, the height a Munro has to be gets a couple hundred feet higher, the exposed rock scrambles get more expose-y, and probably in a couple months I’ll be telling people that they aim to do it in 9 months and not 12.  And that’s not because I want to lie for them, but because they are just crazy enough to finish it early because they love each and every moment!  I call them “crazy-people” when I tell my friends what they are up to and what adventures they’ve had already, but I mean that in the most loving and admiring way possible because what they are doing is pretty darn cool.

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Ben Vorlich (Lochearnhead) – (95) – 14 May 2013

6 word weather: You name it, we saw it!Jenny & James visit 358

We welcomed Jenny and James to Scotland by dragging them up a Munro (hey, they asked for it!).Jenny & James visit 711

After an efficient effort of getting everyone out of the house before 9:00 then managing to load four sea kayaks onto the car for later adventures, we parked up on the South Lochearnhead Road and set off in the rain. As we made our way up the very straightforward track our minds boggled at the incredible variation in the weather . . . despite that Jenny and James only had two days in Scotland they nevertheless saw every single possible weather variation in the span of an afternoon’s walk!

In our few leisurely hours up to the summit it rained; snowed; and hailed. There was a breeze, then a gust, then stillness. There was some glorious sunshine mixed in there, too, not to mention a few rainbows over Lochearn. Luckily for us Jenny is a keen photographer so found solace in the fact that the lighting was good for photo opportunities (at least when she was brave enough to poke her head out from her hood!).

It was definitely much colder than our visitors were expecting so it was down to Andy’s belay jacket for keeping Jenny feeling toasty enough.

Jenny & James visit 788

At the top Jamie and Andy had a wee race to another top, followed by a mini-snowball fight (caught splendidly on film by Jenny!).

Snowball!!

Snowball!!

We descended down toward Stuc a’ Chroin and began that climb, too, but the exposure got to the point that our travelling friends were clearly reconsidering their sanity in joining us for a day out so we quit while we were ahead (and all in one piece!) and descended down from the snow, across grassy slopes and over peat bog, back to the track and down to the car for an evening of introducing James to the whisky wonders of the Clachaig. Th boys even sampled water dripping from the peat en route to get a taste of a pure ingredient!

Sampling the peaty water

Sampling the peaty water

So excited that Jenny and James were able to join us for 1(.5!) Munros in our challenge. So far they definitely win the longest journey award!

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The Lawers Chain – Meall nan Tarmachan, Meall a’Choire Leith, Meall Corranaich, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, An Stuc, Meall Garbh, Meall Greigh (87,88,89,90,91 92,93 & 94) – 12 May

Darren, Jamie, Norah & Andy finishing off the day in sunshine

Darren, Jamie, Norah & Andy finishing off the day in sunshine

(10.5 hours) The forecast wasn’t ideal for today, but we’ve moved way past awaiting ideal conditions for long days out or we’d accomplish nothing this year! With just one free day this weekend to Munro we opted for the Lawers chain. With the exception of Tarmachan, we had completed this route in November 2011 on one of the sunniest days we’ve ever experienced in Scotland. Today was not to replicate that!

We awoke in the car at 0600, meeting Norah and Darren at the Lawers Hotel at 0715 to set up the car shuttle, starting our walk at 0820 from the Tarmachan car park.

Descending Tarmachan

Descending Tarmachan

One of the many waterfalls we were graced with today

One of the many waterfalls we were graced with today

While the rain and cloudy skies weren’t especially inspiring, today brought with it a regular feeling of satisfaction as we picked off one top after another every hour or so (with a longer distance between the first two than the rest). Norah and Darren were super company as always, though we were surprised that Darren doesn’t thrive on walking in the rain! Luckily his super-sized tea flask kept him swiftly moving on. We were also graced by a bagpiper on the ascent of Meall a’Choire Leith. Quite a surreal experience, but so fitting for the challenge!

We spent many hours worrying about what might have been a tricky descent from An Stuc, only to get there to discover a straightforward and very short section of scrambling and mudsliding. Lucky for us the snow and ice had all but disappeared from the paths so finding our way was relatively easy, despite the yucky weather. It’s been funny to reflect on the fact that there have probably been dozens of such social trails on the hills we’ve completed already, but we were none the wiser because they were all covered in snow and ice until now! Certainly makes life easier when you can see where you’re going!

We worked today on formalising Andy’s classification system: from “we haven’t even started yet” (which can be as much as seven hours into a day!) to “very nearly there” (often genuinely true!). In between are such gems as, “we’ve started now;” “we’re underway;” and “we’re well underway.” Occasionally you may even be told that “we’re having fun now!”

With no visibility throughout the day we must admit that each summit was not too dissimilar to the one before, or the one that followed, but we were graced at the end of the day by a double rainbow and some absolutely amazing views back to the ridge we had successfully walked.

A highly recommended route for the keen hillwalker, and Jamie had to concede that Andy was right for making it a proper round rather than going back to the car after Tarmachan and driving up to the start of  Meall a’Choire Leith. Greater sense of achievement doing it this way, and there was much less risk that we would lose Darren to the warmth of the car in betweenJ

Dinner and refreshments at the Lawers Hotel before heading back to Glasgow to somewhat frantically prepare for the arrival of visiting friends, who may not appreciate a spare room dripping from floor to ceiling with wet kit!

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