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Maiden journey into the Mamores

Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby LeithySuburbs » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:30 am

Route description: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean, Mamores

Munros included on this walk: Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean

Date walked: 15/01/2012

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1140m

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After 3 consecutive weekends of pretty rubbish weather, a short spell of high pressure arrived like breast milk to a baby. Due to their relative accessibility, I had "saved" the Mamores for just such occasions. I calculated I would need to start the walk by 10am to be finished during daylight and it was exactly then that I started.

[I should point out that the minor road leading to Mamore Lodge has a discouraging sign at the gate at the bottom of the hill reading something like:-

It's possible I may have missed this sign on the way up because I parked at the Lodge... Hence saving those valuable 200m ascent. :shifty: ]

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The first 3.5km along the track were enjoyable as views opened up along Loch Leven and height was easily gained.

01 Loch Leven.jpg
Loch Leven

As Loch Eilde Mor came into view I joined the obvious stalkers path on the left. I could also see it's course around the shoulder of Sgor Eilde Beag a mile or so in the distance. The path itself was excellent. Most of the ground was frozen and the sunshine and firm terrain reminded me of last April rather than the wet and wind we have so far experienced this winter.

02 Aonach Eagach.jpg
Aonach Eagach

I was now faced with a choice: to continue past Coire an Lochain into the corrie as suggested on this site or head straight up the steep nose of SEB? I tested nearby snow patches and my mind was made up. The snow was firm and icy (barely taking a crampon). I reckoned a NE facing corrie would be tricky (if not dangerous) so headed straight up the steep but snowless southern slope of SEB.

I was not bothered by the thin layer of cloud hovering around 900-1050m as I knew I would be climbing through it. The walk to point 1062m was easy and full of optimism.

03 first sight of BM summit.jpg
first sight of BM summit

12 - Sgor Eilde Mor.jpg
Sgor Eilde Mor

Here the wind hit me. It was freezing and I stopped to put on insulated jacket and crampons. However, such minor inconveniences were completely overshadowed by the reveal of Ben Nevis and the narrow ridge leading to the summit of Binnein Mor :-D .

04 Ben Nevis.jpg
the Ben

05 BM summit ridge.jpg
summit ridge to BM

The short walk to the summit required care as the ridge narrowed and the snow hardened. A slip here would have almost certainly been fatal as I am not sure I could have arrested a slide such was the hardness of the snow. The summit of BM was a cramped affair as I tried to shelter from the breeze but still soak up the views. The situation was intoxicating and I did not want to leave 8) .

09 - Binnien Beag.jpg
looking down to Binnein Beag

06 looking S from BM.jpg
looking S from BM

07 Ring of Steall Munros.jpg
Ring of Steall Munros

However, the clock was ticking so I set off back down (again, with care) past the minor summit to the high col below Na Gruagaichean.

08 - S to Buachaille.jpg
looking S to Buachaille area

The short climb to the summit was again in cloud but this only added to the sense of excitement at the anticipated views to come...

10 - NG summit ridge.jpg
NG summit ridge

As it transpired the summit was also in cloud (it is 74m lower than BM). However, after a 10m minute break the cloud cleared completely (it was now about 2:30pm) and the surrounding mountain wonderland was revealed in full. HOW HAVE I NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE :? ????????!!!!!!!!!

11 - BM from NG.jpg
BM from NG

The descent was straightforward following the ridge north to Leachd na h-Aire then heading WSW back to the track. My eye was pulled south to the Aonach Eagach ridge, west along Loch Leven to Beinn a' Bheithir and nearby to Am Bodach. Only the last couple of hundred metres were awkward as the top-soil had thawed over the frozen under-soil making conditions a little slippy! I got back toi the car at 4pm.

The above summary cannot do justice to a magnificent day out :D . I cannot wait to return to this fabulous range of hills with their sweeping ridges, soaring peaks and easy terrain.
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby ChrisW » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:51 am

What a wonderful report Leithy and truly spectacular photos, the 4th & 5th really caught my eye but all of them are stunning. What a great walk....I reckon you'll be back there very soon and I know I'll be glad to read the report once you do :D
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby jonny616 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:54 am

fantastic stuff. I did these in complete clag. I just felt as i was walking the ridges that they would be stunning & your photo's do them justice. I remember the sign also, but did not see an actual gate.
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby PeteR » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:02 am

I love these hills :D Some of the best I have ever been on :D Loved your report and your pictures. Shame about the cloud at timers, but that can add to the atmosphere I think :D

I bet you can't wait for your next trip to these hills :D
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby Stretch » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:37 am

Good stuff pal, enjoyed seeing these two in their winter coat.
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby old danensian » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:55 am

Great atmospheric photos - hope you get similar conditions for the other eight.

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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby Gable Gable End » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:11 am

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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby lomondwalkers » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:06 am

Some cracking atmospheric photos there Leithy 8) Hoping to venture into the Mamores later in the year, looks like I'm not gonna be disappointed 8) Cheers.
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby jmarkb » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:32 am

Brilliant: that's one of my favorite walks and you had a stunning day for it!
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby malky_c » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:07 pm

Another perfect Mamore report 8)

I love how easy they are to get around in winter, yet they feel like proper mountains, with narrow ridges and big drops.

The summit ridge of Binnein Mor is the only place I've had to do a proper ice axe arrest on steep ground. Fortunately the snow was a little softer than what you appear to have had.
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby Michael Thomson » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:11 pm

Great report, totally inspiring!
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby Redrock » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:16 pm

A fantastic report, Leithy, and those clouds just added more atmosphere to your pics! :D I hope to be back at the Mamores again soon myself - they are brilliant mountains! Cheers! 8)

By the way, there is a gate at the foot of the Lodge road - not very welcoming to us walkers - especially if they do lock it! :lol:
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby Peter913 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:57 pm

Nice images there a day i bet you wish you went stunning shots there

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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby kevsbald » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:13 pm

Nice one Dougie!
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Re: Maiden journey into the Mamores

Postby mrssanta » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:08 pm

fantastic, makes me want to leave work and go right now!
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