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Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Postby MG1976 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:03 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben More, Stob Binnein

Date walked: 25/02/2012

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 1330m

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It's been quite a while since I last managed to get myself out onto the hills, last September to be precise, so these two were always going to be a test of my fitness and determination. I had attempted these two hills previously, but that had gone horribly wrong from the very first step. I'm happy to say that this attempt was entirely successfull, despite the weather doing all it could to thwart my efforts.

I set of on the train from Glasgow Queen Street shortly before 1830 on the Friday night. The train was packed; backpacks, boots and ice axes everywhere. I thought to myself that Crianlarich could well be in for quite a busy weekend, but I ended up being the only walker getting off when the train arrived at 2000. Maybe Fort William was the destination of choice for the rest of the train passengers.

Crianlarich Youth Hostel wasn't exactly what you'd call busy, a total of 6 guests. As I was making dinner, I got talking to the other people staying there. Talking about our plans and what hills each of us were planning on tackling the following day. One other guy was also planning on the same hills as myself. We got to discussing routes, latest conditions on the hills and the weather forecast, when I found out he was actually from Doncaster, and lived only a few miles from where I work. Iain had driven up, and offered to give me a lift from the hostel in the morning, so a plan was made; we'd set off together in the morning and see how we got on, neither of us really knowing much about each others walking experience or pace.

My alarm rudely disturbed my sleep at 0600, and it wasn't easy to force myself out of bed and towards the kitchen for some breakfast. Knowing that I wasn't going to have to walk the 2 miles to the start of the route was a nice feeling, however, and I was able to treat myself to a cooked breakfast before my 1st walk of year.
My bag had been packed and re-checked the night before so, after filling in our route cards and leaving them at the reception, Iain and I were off on our way by 0715. We arrived at the start of the route within a few minutes and after making sure Iain's car was safely off the road, we were starting off up the glen by 0730.

01. Looking up to Ben More from A85 roadside.JPG
01. Looking up to Ben More from A85 roadside.

As we were making our way up the Land Rover track, it became quite evident that the weather forecast had unfortunately been spot on, if not a little more optimistic than reality. The report had predicted winds of 50mph, with gusts of 70mph and upwards. It was certainly pretty windy down in the glen, and the cloud was well below the 2800ft of the the days' first target, the bealach between the two hills.

02. The landrover track heading up Glen More.JPG
02. The Land Rover track heading up Benmore Glen.

After an hour of walking and talking we reached the end of the Land Rover track around 0830. My guide book makes a very big point of trying to ensure that you don't take to the hillside too early, and follow the Glenmore burn until reaching the path that leads up the side of the stream descending from the bealach. We didn't do this, we opted to avoid the boggy path along the burn and headed diagonally up the hillside near the one solitary tree on the hillside, where the Land Rover track ends.

Our progress up the hillside was slow but steady; the wind was going to be a big factor today. For every step we tried to take forwards, the wind was trying to push us several steps sideways. Before we were swallowed up by the clouds, I managed to get one reasonable picture of our progress so far.

03. Looking back to the end of the landrover track, when approaching the bealach.JPG
03. Looking back to the end of the Land Rover track, when approaching the bealach.

The clouds were sitting lower than the 2800ft bealach, and the visibility wasn't up to much. We reached the bealach around 0945. The wind was now ferocious, and the predicted gusts of 70mph were certainly there or there abouts. The conditions were truly horrific; rain, sleet and biting winds, this was going to be a real mind over matter day, if any of these two hills were going to be ticked off my list by nightfall.
We confirmed our position on Iain's GPS and set off on the long pull upwards, towards to invisible summit of Ben More.

04. The extent of the visibility, setting off up Ben More from the bealach.JPG
04. The extent of the visibility, setting off up Ben More, from the bealach.

As we got higher up the hill, the wind was getting stronger, the visibility was getting worse and windchill was making the temperature feel a lot colder than the zero degrees showing on the thermometer.

The path to the summit was still visible on the ground but it was harder work trying to keep to it, than it was to just keep it in view. It was also easier to walk on the snow covered grass, than the ice covered path.

As we reached the second steepening, there was a broad bank of snow that needed to be negotiated. This didn't pose too much of a problem, just some well placed footwork was sufficient.

05. Iain, making his way up the snowy upper slopes of Ben More.JPG
05. Iain, making his way up the snowy upper slopes of Ben More.

06. Approaching the summit of Ben More.JPG
06. Approaching the summit of Ben More.

We reached the first summit at 1050, just over an hour after leaving the bealach. It felt like it had been a lot longer.
We opted for pictures by the trig point; the summit cairn was hardly recognisable under it's snowy blanket.

07. Visibilty levels standing 6ft from Ben More trig point.JPG
07. Visibility levels standing 6ft from Ben More trig point.

08. Iain, Ben More trig point.JPG
08. Iain, Ben More trig point.

09. Myself, Ben More trig point.JPG
09. Myself, Ben More trig point.

We rested, just below the trig point, for about 20 minutes. After some food and some hot tea, we set off again. The walk down was far more difficult than it had been on the way up. The wind was now behind us and was doing its best to take our feet away from us. As we were about to start back across the one karge snow bank we had crossed on the way up, we did have a "could have been a lot different" moment. Stepping off a ledge of rock, above the snow bank, the wind managed to knock Iain off his feet and sent him onto his back. I just managed to grab his ankle, before his waterproofs and his backpack rain cover carried him down the hill headfirst on his back. It was quite a hairy moment, more for Iain than myself I think. A few minutes to get himself the right way up and pointing back in the right direction and we were on our way again. It was slow progress back to the bealach, with us having to hunker down several times to get some respite from the wind. By far the strongest winds i've even been out in and it was already started to sow the seeds of doubt about taking on Stob Binnein as well. We agreed to get back to the saddle and see how we were feeling and if the weather was showing any signs of improving.

The weather didn't improve, in fact it just seemed to be getting worse. We decided to continue; but Iain's athsma had been given him a little grief, so we slowed our pace to help him control that. At the start of the day, we had agreed that if either of us had wanted to seperate due to our walking speed being different or one of us choosing to drop one of the hills, that we'd let the other know so as to not ruin each others days. As it was, I was probably a little quicker that Iain was, but i've never worried too much about trip times and I was more than happy to keep his his pace. With conditions as they were, if was nice to have some company and also reassuring not to be alone on the hills.

10. Visibility on route up Stob Binnein from the bealach.JPG
10. Visibility on route up Stob Binnein, from the bealach.

The path up Stob Binnein, like Ben More, was still easy enough to spot, despite the snow on the slopes. As it was, we opted to keep well to the right of the path as the wind was now behind us and stronger, and was doing it's best to force us to our left. Not much to report on the walk to the summit, although we did find ourselves at the top quicker than we had anticipated.

11. Approaching Stob Binnein summit.JPG
11. Approaching Stob Binnein summit.

We reached the summit of Stob Binnein at 1320.

12. Iain, Stob Binnein summit.JPG
12. Iain, Stob Binnein summit.

13. Myself, Stob Binnein summit.JPG
13. Myself, Stob Binnein summit.

Happy as we were to have reached our 2nd peak of the day, the summit of Stob Binnein was not an enjoyable place to be hanging around at. It was only possible to find partial shelter from the wind on the summit, but we needed to get some more hot tea inside us before our trek back down into what was going to be the headwind from hell.

We had our tea, a few bites to eat and set off from the top. We actually over-compensated for the wind on our way back down and after about 15 minutes, we reaslised we had veered too far from the path. We re-adjusted our bearing to keep closed to the path, and it was a less than enjoyable hour that had us back at the bealach. We had another 10 minute break, just to get out of the wind, behind the larghe boulder than sits above the "official" path back down the glen. It was only when we reached the top of the path, that we found ourselves back out of the clouds.

14. Back below the clouds, heading down from bealach.JPG
14. Back below the clouds, heading down from the bealach.

The walk down to the glen and back along the Land Rover track was an uneventful and steady affair, with us arriving back at the car just before 1600.

A quick drive back to the hostel to drop off the car and it was straight to the Rod & Reel for a well earned pint of Guinness.
All in all, it was a tough but very rewarding day on the hills. It was nice to have met up with Iain, and to have his company on what was, by a long way, the worse conditions i've ever been out walking in.

Official times are as follows:

Walk time from A85 roadside (Benmore farm) to end of Benmore Glen Land Rover track: 1 Hour
Walk time from end of Benmore Glen Land Rover track to Bealach-eader-dha-Beinn: 1 Hour - 15 Minutes
Walk time from Bealach-eader-dha-Beinn to Ben More summit: 1 Hour - 5 Minutes
Ben More summit rest time: 20 Minutes
Walk time from Ben More summit to Stob Binnein summit: 2 Hour - 10 Minutes
Stob Binnein summit rest time: 10 Minutes
Walk time from Stob Binnein summit to Bealach-eader-dha-Beinn: 1 Hour
Bealach-eader-dha-Beinn rest time: 10 Minutes
Walk time from Bealach-eader-dha-Beinn to A85 roadside (Benmore farm): 1 Hour - 20 Minutes

Total walking time: 7 Hours - 50 Minutes
Total rest time: 40 Minutes
Total Trip Time : 8 Hours - 30 Minutes.
Last edited by MG1976 on Wed May 25, 2016 10:19 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Postby Johnny Corbett » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:02 pm

Hellish weather indeed. If it's any consolation i've had 2 outings on these hills and not seen a thing :(
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Re: Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Postby Del246 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 8:16 pm

Good effort. I still have these 2 to do and I will need to do them on my own. My 3 friends have done this pair and refuse to do it again saying its a real leg burner !!
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Re: Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Postby mike216 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:25 pm

Have climbed this pair twice, both from the farm (straight up the north-west slopes of Ben More) and had cracking views the first time with lots of snow, second time was a freezing October day but topped out just above the cloud on Ben More, sadly though as it's the highest point around, nothing else could be seen above the cloud.

The ascent of Ben More from the A85 is one of the more gruelling around!
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Re: Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Postby Tomsie » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:45 pm

Well done on reaching summits in those conditions
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Re: Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Postby lomondwalkers » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:25 pm

Great effort in those conditions!!!
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Re: Ben More & Stob Binnein - 25/02/2012

Postby jonny616 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:40 pm

Good effort. There is something about these two. I've been on More three times (once only to the summit) & Binnein once & never seen anything high up.
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