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A Beinn a' Bheithir stunner..then a bit more!

A Beinn a' Bheithir stunner..then a bit more!


Postby malky_c » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:17 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir), Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a'Bheithir)

Grahams included on this walk: Meall Mor (Glencoe), Sgorr a'Choise

Date walked: 30/11/2019

Time taken: 9.25 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 2200m

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Munros: Sgorr Dhearg, Sgorr Dhonuill.
Grahams: Sgorr a'Choise, Meall Mor.
Date: 30/11/2019.
Distance: 22 km.
Ascent: 2200 m.
Time: 9 hours, 15 minutes.
Weather: Cold, calm, sunny.

It was finally time for the Scottishhills Christmas meet and the weather was looking good both days. We were unsure whether to split the time between walking and cycling, but regardless Jackie wasn't going to be able to get there until after work on Saturday, so I'd need to make my own way up. Fortunately I'd been discussing plans with David, and he was able to pick me and my bike up in Dumbarton on his way north. On the drive up, we could see that the skies were clear and it would be a great evening to be out.

We manged an earlyish start on Saturday due to not getting blazing drunk on Friday evening :lol: . David drove us the short distance back to Ballachulish and we were walking shortly after 9am - it was cold! David had suggested a monster route starting on Beinn a' Bheithir by the Schoolhouse Ridge, then continuing to Sgorr a' Choise and Meall Mor. Even with our decent start time, it didn't really look like we'd see it through as neither of us had done a walk with that much ascent yet this year.


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ImageApproaching Sgorr Bhan

We caught up various groups on the ridge and made decent time early on. I had been worried that the rock would be icy despite an almost complete lack of snow, but by the time we reached the scrambly bit, it had been sunny for long enough for it to thaw and dry off completely.

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Ballachulish

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On Schoolhouse Ridge

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Mamores and the Pap

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David on Schoolhouse Ridge

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Ballachulish and Loch Leven

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Top of the ridge

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Ardgour

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Ballachulish Bridge

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Tom Mheadhoin and Ben Nevis

Once up high, it was a most excellent traverse over to Sgorr Dhearg - nice easy walking in outstanding conditions. This was my first Munro back in 1991 or 1992, and other than a failed attempt on Sgorr Dhonuill the previous year, my first ever Scottish hill. I don't think the weather had been up to much that time as dad and I hadn't continued on to Sgorr Dhonuill. Then again I was 10 or 11 - maybe I had just had enough after one summit!

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Heading to Sgorr Dhearg

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Back to Sgorr Bhan

No issues with the weather today - in 3 or 4 visits here, this was the best day by far 8) . We had a break before continuing to Sgorr Dhonuill.

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Aonach Eagach and Bidean

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Ben Nevis and the Mamores

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Sgorr Dhonuill

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Meall Mor and Sgorr a’ Choise in front of Bidean

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Loch Leven

We were surprised to find an icy lochan on the way down that was solid enough to stand on - I left David to test that out. Up the other side, the going was straightforward aside from a couple of places where the rocky route ahead was on the shadowy side of the hill. There was the faintest dusting of frost and snow here, which made things a little slippery. Nothing especially awkward though. Sgorr Dhonuill has even better views as you are looking right down onto Lismore and the Firth of Lorn. Rum was easily visible and we reckoned that part of South Uist was visible behind. The Paps of Jura didn't look impossibly far away either for once.

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Approaching Sgorr Dhonuill

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Sgorr Dhonuill

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David feeling daring

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South to Beinn Sgulaird and others

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North Ballachulish

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Sgorr a’ Chaolais spur - I fancy this route up sometime

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Sgorr a’ Chaolais spur

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Final ascent

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Back to Sgorr Dhearg

We had another break here and discussed what to do next. Meall Mor was definitely out of the picture at this point, and would we even bother dropping all of that way down to the floor of Gleann an Fhiodh to go up Sgorr a' Choise? At this point, the sunshine and westerly views of the western arm of the horseshoe were more appealing to me, even if they left us some way from the van. In the end we decided to carry on with our original plan and drop back to the col we had come up from. Plenty of other folk about up to this point enjoying the sunshine.

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Garbh Bheinn and Ardgour

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Lismore and Loch Linnhe

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Kingairloch and Morvern

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Back the same way again

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South

As expected, once we dropped off the back of Beinn a' Bheithir, we didn't see anyone else. The going was steep and grassy with the odd outcrop to avoid, but not particularly hard going. We took a calculated risk in heading to a corner of the forestry plantation that was closest to the track through the glen and - lo and behold - there was a gate there and a fairly easy route through the trees! That could easily have gone wrong (as it has so many times in the past).

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Gleann an Fhiodh and south Glencoe hills

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Sgorr a’ Choise and Bidean

We followed the track and footpath towards Ballachulish until we had popped out of the trees again, then crossed the glen to begin a traversing ascent onto the ridge between Fraochaidh and Sgorr a' Choise. Probably the roughest part of the day this, with plenty of heather to plough through, but the low temperatures kept our feet from disappearing through the boggy crust too often.

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The Pap and Sgorr a’ Choise form Gleann an Fhiodh

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Sgorr Dhonuill from Gleann an Fhiodh

Shortly after crossing the Glen Creran path we were on the ridge and following a fainter path. The light was definitely disappearing - no way were we doing another hill after this one!

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On the ridge to Sgorr a’ Choise

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NW face of Sgorr a' Choise

There was a nice sunset behind us as we headed up the ridge. We were a bit hemmed in to fully appreciate it but it was still lovely. Much as I'm coming round to enjoying a good sunrise, this is still my favourite time of day to be on the hill.

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Sun going down behind Fraochaidh

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Bidean

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Ben Nevis rising above Mam na Gualainn

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Glen Creran and Fraochaidh

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Sgurr na h-Udlaidh

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Sgorr Dhearg

Well, here we were at our final summit of the day. We had been prospecting for the easiest route back to Ballachulish from here since we would be doing some of it (the awkward forestry bit) in the dark.

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Summit of Sgorr a’ Choise

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Last light over Fraochaidh

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Glen Creran – Scarba and Jura visible in the distance

'How do you feel about doing Meall Mor? Looks easier to get off there than it does here'
Oh well, looked like we'd be going up Meall Mor then :lol: . Although it would be largely dark by the time we got there, we reckoned we could cover most of the ground before we needed to get our torches out.

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’Let’s do one more...’

There's quite a descent from Sgorr a' Choise - how could we still be going down?! All of this height had to be regained again. I wasn't feeling too bad at this point but David was definitely feeling the burn.

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Almost dark now

We took the ascent of Meall Mor slowly, but it was straightforward grass. Up on the plateau, we had to head east a bit to the true summit (on a rib of rock that we had been following the side of up the hill), before going back to the west to find our route down. True to our estimate, we just about managed the summit cairn without torches, although there was little to see by this point. Then after gaining the correct spur, it was a grassy descent across a deer fence to the edge of a plantation. Some of this had been felled so I cheated and got Google Maps out on my phone to find where we were in relation to a fire break. Soon we were on a good track (which unfortunately drops to the wrong side of Glencoe Village), then on the un-named summit next to the radio mast (this last bit of ascent was a bit of a groan all round).

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Summit of Meall Mor

I managed to rip my jacket on a bit of barbed wire as we crossed a fence - annoying! In theory the way ahead was easy now - follow the fence down the hillside until we hit the quarry, then pick up a path. There was already the scrapings of a path here, although the hard, frosty ground made the going a bit slippery and tedious.

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Last descent into Ballachulish

At the quarry we decided to take a shortcut and ended up crashing through gorse and undergrowth before exiting to the road through someone's back garden :lol: . I had called Jackie on the way down - she had been out on the hills above Glen Fruin after work, and it was going to be a close-run thing which of us got to Corran first. In the event we all arrived within a few minutes of each other at 7ish.

If I hadn't felt too bad on the hill, I was knackered by the time we got back to the bunkhouse - clearly I'm out of practice with these big ascent days (or 'in retirement' as David likes to call it) :lol:
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malky_c
 
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Re: A Beinn a' Bheithir stunner..then a bit more!

Postby Sgurr » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:35 pm

And some of us just went up Ben Hiant :oops: :oops: :oops: , but what a great day for photos. I can't believe you added the last bit on....well, I can, or you wouldn't be malky....and you were still up and semi-partying when we had gone to bed.
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Sgurr
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Re: A Beinn a' Bheithir stunner..then a bit more!

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:21 am

That's a lot of up and down for a short winter day!

I'm surprised with the lack of snow down south last weekend. We were on Glen Affric Munros on Saturday and enjoyed a proper winter traverse: snow, ice, crampons... Sadly, it's all melted by now.

Beinn a' Bheithir is on our list to-repeat-soon, maybe on the next WH meet :D
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BlackPanther
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Re: A Beinn a' Bheithir stunner..then a bit more!

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:56 am

Hey, that's a pretty fine route. Can't believe I didn't think of it :D . Some great pics of what was clearly a superb day.

I'm a bit surprised about the relative lack of forestry on the route, though: I thought forestry is what you live for...????
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Alteknacker
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