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Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby old danensian » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:54 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgùrr Chòinnich Mòr, Stob Bàn (Grey Corries), Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Coire an Laoigh

Date walked: 24/06/2011

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Fearful of the WH meet jinx on the weather, I managed to get to Roy Bridge early with the aim of getting at least one good trip done in reasonable conditions: it wasn’t a disappointment.

Clouds flirting with the Aonachs and Grey Corries in the early morning heralded the prospect of a good day; traversing the four Munros from Stob Ban along to Sgurr Choinnich Mor was the target.

Aonachs from Glen Spean

Grey Corries from Coire Choille

The only shadow on the day was my mistake parking the car way back at Cour Bridge before even getting to Coire Choille – I just didn’t realise how much further along the track it was possible to drive past the farm and on up the trail to Lairig Leacach. As a result, a good hour or so was added to the length of the day, which was tolerable on the way out but frustratingly tiring on the way back.

The Wee Minister checks the car parking below

Once past the Wee Minister who overlooks those progressing up the glen, the path up the Lairig is a pleasant stroll for a couple of hours. The route is dry and the gradient is undemanding so both height and distance are gained with the minimum of effort. Even the small descent after the watershed isn’t dispiriting as you descend towards the bothy from where the Stob Ban route departs. The slopes on either side close in and the intriguing crags of Sgurr Innse to the east loom above and get added to the list of future targets. Finally, just before the bothy is reached, Stob Ban pops its head over the skyline, and at last the first target for the day is in sight.

Lairig Leacach bothy and Stob Ban

The bothy marks the end of easy walking for a few hours, until the ridge itself is reached. Rather than crossing the Alt a Chuil Choirean and making for the ridge line, I followed the track up its northern banks and dodged the boggiest of stretches as it passed the waterfalls and ravines. Leaving the sac at the bealach above Coire Claurigh meant I wouldn’t have to carry it, and 2kg of water up the final steep slopes.

Grassy terraces crossing the slabs that sit below the bealach provide possible routes up the next stage of the route, but I opted for a scramble up the ravine to the left. As the sides narrowed, just before its final upper wall, a steep grassy slope provides an exit and the bealach is reached after another few minutes scrambling across some of the sheets of scree. The reward is the first glimpse of the ridge ahead and views back to the north east where Sgurr Innse sits proudly in the foreground. The price is the steep 500 feet that separates you from the summit.

Slabs in Coire Claurigh below Stob Ban

Sgurr Innse from bealach below Stob Ban

First glimpse of Grey Corries ridge from bealach below Stob Ban

A steady plod later and, just over three hours from the car, the view makes it all worthwhile, with brilliant white sun and weather bleached stones surrounding the cairn and the chance to bask for twenty minutes in the reflection they radiate. It would have been all too easy to stay for ages: but the ridge beckons. As you begin the descent back to the bealach, the wide shoulder up to Stob Choire Claurigh stretches out ahead – another steady grind before the main part of the ridge is gained.

Summit of Stob Ban

Aonachs and Ben Nevis from Stob Choire Claurigh

Once on the ridge, the path snakes from one point to the next, at some places perched above the crags to one side or another, while along other stretches it sweeps up and down intermittent grassy gradients or fields of scree that are never steep: almost always airy, but never precarious.

Ridge ahead from Claurigh

Cliffs below Stob Coire an Laoigh

However, once past Stob Coire an Laoigh and Easain you’re lured into a false sense of security and ease. The descent from Stob Coire Easain can be quite a scramble and then the clamber up to the final Munro of the day, Sgurr Choinnich Mor is a short sharp shock, in stark contrast to the pleasant sweeping slopes of the first part of the ridge. Equally contrasting is the nature of the summit: soft grass upon which to sit and rest, rather than sharp edged quartzite and the bed of nails that work against relaxation.

Final slopes of Sgurr Choinnich Mor

Two and a half hours from Claurigh to Choinnich Mor, now the descent – but preferably not a re-ascent of Easain. To avoid this I contoured round from the Bealach Coire Easain to reach Beinn na Sociach. It proved to be a delicate teeter across some of the scree and boulders below the north west upper slopes that took an hour from Choinnich Mor to Sociach. A worthwhile detour? The jury’s still out.

Ridge looking back from Beinn na Socaich

The descent down the final ridge to the north opened out gradually but got steeper and boggier as the path dropped closer to the Alt Choimhlidh and the dam in the valley. The views behind kept on attracting over-the shoulder glances, that invariably meant I missed another slippy boggy bit and narrowly avoided the inevitable wet bum. As my water had run out on the last summit (you never know how much is left in that big plastic bag) a drink at the dam was appreciated.

The final part of the day enters the forest, and the recommended alternative route that avoids the old tramway was followed. I tried the other and after just a few yards it was clearly going to be a challenging boggy thrash. One part of the tramway itself looks like a relic of the wildwest and a goldrush line through the Rockies. After an age the path emerges from the forest a couple of hundred metres from the point where cars can be left on the track above the farm at Coire Choille – rubbing salt into the wound of my error at the beginning of the day.

Wild West scene set?

A look back at the end of the day

After ten hours on the go I finally got back to the car with a self-satisfied sense of achievement at a great day out, and up for the challenge that the rest of the weekend might bring.
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby stixrooster » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:13 pm

So that's what it looks like!

I've yet to do my report form when we were up there on the 21st May, couldn't see a thing and driving rain/sleet, looks like you enjoyed it a bit more than we did!
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby PeteR » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:21 pm

Great pictures :D and great report :D of some great hills :D Doing all 4 in the one go is a goos tough day though isn't it. I love the view along the main ridge, from either direction. and that decent from stob coire easain is a little gem so long into the walk :lol: Took me by surprise when I was up there recently :lol:
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby mountainstar » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:51 pm

Ah, thats what Stob ban looks like from the Bothy! and also the views we did not see from the summit :(
But at least I knew about driving the car up the track, ha ha ha :lol:
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby monty » Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:35 am

Excellent detailed report. Some great photos. I havent seen much when i have been out lately :( Nice to see the views. :D

Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby Paul Webster » Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:53 am

Great report OD, we need a few more days like that. Good Indiana Jones-pic of the rail-line too.
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby Gable Gable End » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:34 am

Cracker of a report OD. Great photos and it looks like you had a great weather window!
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby Jockstar » Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:02 am

Great report OD and a good effort to get round this walk :D Like the old tram line and the pics of the ridge. You certainly had your work cut out and not a soul in sight! :lol: :lol:
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby old danensian » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:05 pm

Thanks for the comments guys - and a shame you couldn't make it for the weekend Brian.

PeteR - reassuring to know that the drop from Easain proved "interesting" to others as well - I veered to the left and scrambled down a short chimmney to reach easier ground, but with that jumble of boulders it seemed the most straightforward

I was wondering where everyone was as well - I caught up with one guy on Laoigh and met another couple a while later - but otherwise not even a bristle moving along the skyline.
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby andrewdoggett » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:55 pm

Good effort Nigel - that looks a decent hoof to say the least...

At least you didn't need to worry about surviving a blizzard :)

Hope you're well... Good to see you back in the hills... :D
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby Stretch » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:23 pm

Nice one Nigel, a nice day out before being subjected to Monty's jokes :lol:
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby walk aboot » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:50 am

Great report and photos, Nigel...no wonder you were looking so pleased with yourself in the pub on the Friday evening 8)
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby Graeme D » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:36 am

Great report and pics OD. I never tire of seeing pics of Sgurr Innse in all her glory! :D
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Re: Grey Corries - squeezed in before the rain

Postby pollyh33 » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:57 am

Fantastic report especially up the bit that said 'never precarious' :D and then it was swiftly followed by a 'However' :(

Great photos! Last time I saw a railway track like that I was in Disneyland!!
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