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A calm day on Ben Challum

A calm day on Ben Challum

Postby Rossco » Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:56 pm

Route description: Ben Challum, near Tyndrum

Munros included on this walk: Ben Challum

Date walked: 27/12/2011

Time taken: 4.46 hours

Distance: 11.8 km

Ascent: 1094m

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My first hill in two months!

I had been both looking forward to and dreading this day. Having worked abroad for the last month or so, I fell out my usual routine of hillwalking, cycling and going to the gym every week. Near enough 2 months without any real exercise made me worry I wouldn't even make it up a Graham or a Corbett never mind a Munro but I went for it anyway. Looked at my Munro map and seeing all the blue dots around Loch Lomond area, knew I had to start heading a bit further north from now on and expect longer journeys. Still a few around Crianlarich though so picked a relatively easy looking single Munro for my first day back; Ben Challum.

It was a bit of a last minute decision the night before when going through all the new gear Santa got me. A quick check of MWIS said the weather was to be calm and mild for a change on the 27th so I had to go for it. Got my bags all packed, checked the map for my next victim and that was that. :D

I set my alarm for the first time in about 3 weeks for 7am which was not a pleasant start to the day, got ready, made the 50 mile drive and was on the hill for 9.30am. One of my earlier starts for a while I think due to short daylight times. I was starting from Kirkton Farm on the A82, nothing fancy this trip, no going off track, no making it up as I go along, just an easy simple walk to get me back into the swing of things. And it stayed that way for a change! :lol:

It's an easy path to follow for the first ten minutes, cross a wee bridge, up to the farm, past a cemetery, cross the railway, either over the bridge or at the level crossing, and then you're off the path and into the bog! There's a high deer fence that runs up the hill which you can near enough follow the whole way up if you're unsure but the track is well worn in anyway so it's not too difficult.

Across the bridge to Kirkton Farm by Rossco 7, on Flickr

River Fillan with Cruach Ardrain (1046m) in background by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Ben More (1174m), Stob Binnein (1165m) and Cruach Ardrain (1046m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr

The first 40 minutes were brutal and I had to stop for a break on some huge rocks. Didn't mind though as the view back towards Ben Lui et al was magnificent. They were covered in snow and just made me think about climbing up that central gully with ice axes which I'm sure some people would have been doing as I was looking at it. The views all around were just as good though. It's quite cool looking around and seeing all these amazing rocky peaks and knowing you've stood on top of them all in the last year. 8)

Ben More (1174m), Stob Binnein (1165m) and Cruach Ardrain (1046m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Looking back towards Beinn Dubhchraig (978m), Ben Oss (1029m) & Ben Lui (1130m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr

It levels out a bit half way up at about 600 metres which was a welcome break for my tiring legs. Quite boggy though so my new walking poles were being used to test how soggy the ground was before I stepped on it more than anything else!

Gettin a bit boggy! by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Gettin really boggy! by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Jump the fence! by Rossco 7, on Flickr

You reach a fence corner eventually at the end of the level section and once you're over that it's back to climbing. While it wasn't too steep or hard going, the fact that the path follows what would be a rocky stream in wet weather made it quite icy underfoot. Finally reached the South summit in about 2 hours 15 minutes, put a rock on the cairn and kept going. It got a wee bit misty up here at this point but it quickly disappeared. Not after I had the following image appear before me of a half snow covered peak.

I thought I was going to have to stop and get the axe out and wondered if I'd even make it through the snow without crampons but there was enough space to still follow the path for the most part without stepping foot on the snow. I had a wee wander across it on some flat sections though and I never realised how hard and icy it would be having not walked on untouched snow like that up high before. Made me realise even more how dangerous it would be trying to go up a hill covered like that without the necessary equipment. Won't manage to get winter boots and crampons this year but I will be getting them in plenty time for next winter definitely!

Anyway, finally reached the summit of my 23rd Munro in about 2 and a half hours and I felt good. Legs were fine, not too tired! A successful first half of the day.

Final push to the summit of Ben Challum (1025m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Ben Challum summit (1025m) with Ben Lui (1130m) in background by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Me at Ben Challum (1025m) summit by Rossco 7, on Flickr

The cloud cleared just enough for me to take some photos and enjoy the amazing surroundings for a change. It's been a while since I've actually had views on the summit of a hill so I thoroughly enjoyed my 20 minutes sitting having lunch. Even more so though because I used my new flask for some warm soup and had the most amazing roll ever stuffed with Christmas dinner left overs. Not too shabby! :D

Looking East towards Meall Glas (959m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Christmas Dinner in a fresh ciabatta for lunch! Mmmm by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Ben Challum South summit (998m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr

The trip back down was pretty easy. Strayed from the path a few times just for a change of scenery but it was descended in no time. New sticks really came in helpful for the old knees here!

Jaggy rocks! by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Red furry rock! by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Back across the bridge to finish the day by Rossco 7, on Flickr

Overall, it was a brilliant day out that was well overdue. Made the right decision not going for something epic and long to reintroduce myself to the hills for a change. So glad to get back out there!

23 down, 260 to go...

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Re: A calm day on Ben Challum

Postby quoman » Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:06 pm

Excellent stuff Rossco

Bet you are glad to get out after a long lay off the roll looked nice though.
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Re: A calm day on Ben Challum

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:31 pm

That takes me back when I did the same hill in deep snow this year...your christmas lunch chiabatta looks yummy :-)
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Re: A calm day on Ben Challum

Postby kevsbald » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:14 pm

Well done Rossco, especially with the knee issues. Nae offence but yer roll looked mingin.
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Re: A calm day on Ben Challum

Postby Johnny Corbett » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:37 pm

Nice photos Rossco though have to agree with Kev about the roll, bet it tasted good though :D
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Re: A calm day on Ben Challum

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:19 pm

Nice report, Rossco.
I did Challum last month, and it was a surprisingly good hill I thought - did the NW ridge via Auchtertyre farm then plodded back down the usual way. There was no snow though - I don't know how do-able that approach would be with the white stuff.
I'd have to agree that your ciabatta looks decidedly scary in close-up though :o !
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Re: A calm day on Ben Challum

Postby Bod » Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:58 pm

Nice one Rossco, good for your getting out there at this time of year with the short hours and chilly conditions. Damp and windy too, and keeping at it. Here's to a reprieve maybe Friday, Cheers :D
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