Beinn Eighe - when fortune favours the brave
by BlackPanther » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:10 pm
Route description: Beinn Eighe (western summits)
Munros included on this walk: Ruadh-stac Mor (Beinn Eighe)
Date walked: 04/03/2012
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 17.5 km
Ascent: 1250m19 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
So when I think THE BEN, I think Torridon, I think Coire Mhic Fhearchair, I think the steep stone chute to the narrow ridge, I think the secretive nature of Beinn Eighe, it's hidden corries and multiple tops, its magic, its spell. There is no better mountain for me, there can't be.
THE BEN and me have now enjoyed a 5-year relationship although I must admit I neglected my beloved hill in 2011. There were so many other places to visit, that I simply had no time to pop in to Torridon. At least there's one advantage about relationships with mountains: they are patient. They will always be there, waiting for you. Just maybe not always in a good mood...
In summer 2010 I successfully conquered Beinn Eighe's two Munros and enjoyed a long, fantastic day on the ridge. I knew even then, sitting on the summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach and looking back towards Ruadh-stac Mor, that I was going to come back one day. I wanted to see my favourite mountain dressed in white and taste some real adventure on the snowy rocks. Didn't expect though that my dream will come true so quickly - and to be honest, so unexpectedly
Beinn Eighe in white coat, as seen from A896 near Loch Clair:
On Sunday, weather was semi-good, yet it seemed good enough for a short jaunt to Torridon. I talked Kevin into visiting Coire Mhic Fhearchair. We have done it many times before and with us both relatively fit, we calculated it shouldn't take us more than 2 hours to walk up the path to the corrie. We didn't hurry up in the morning and only arrived at the car park by Allt a'Choire Dhuibh Mhoir bridge about half past ten. Cloud was low on Torridon hills, it didn't look promising but as we have already driven the distance, just as well we were determined to do the exercise
Beinn Eighe and Liathach hiding their summits in the mist:
Close to the car park, a lonely stag was busy chewing his late breakfast:
The path up and along Allt a'Choire Dhuibh Mhoir is very good, soon we were in the narrow passage between the two mountains:
The conditions were actually getting worse and for about half an hour we were walking through an intense snow shower, with visibility no better than 100m or so. Eventually, we left the cloud behind and walked out into the sun. The sky was clearing nicely and surrounding views began to emerge...
The path division marked by a cairn, with Beinn Dearg in the background:
The bad cloud we managed to leave behind:
Liathach's pinnacles also emerging from the cloud:
The long ridge of The Grey One:
On the path around the bottom of Sail Mhor:
Torridonian Corbetts revealed:
As we were closer to our destination, snow-covered top of Slioch started showing up to the west:
Slioch in its full glory:
There was about 1 inch of snow on the ground but it was all fresh, no hidden ice underneath and the path was easy to walk on. I was spellbound, so happy to be there:
Beinn Dearg (left), Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin:
A glimpse up the steep, almost vertical slope of Sail Mhor:
The waterfall was not frozen, but we didn't expect it to be. All in all, temperatures hardly dropped below zero over the previous weeks...
Charging the final (so I thought) climb of the day:
Coire Mhic Fhearchair was as beautiful and as enchanting as always. The dark waters of the loch, the black rock walls, the familiar shape of The Triple Buttress...
A close-up to the Triple Buttress:
It took me some time to finally digest the beauty of the landscape... I knew now why this mountian is THE BEN for me...
It was still early, only half past twelve, and I wanted to take full advantage of the day, so we thought we could prolong the walk by circling the lochan:
And only from the opposite side of the loch one can really appreciate the beauty of Sail Mhor's vertical cliff, plunging straight into the water:
We carried on climbing... I just wanted to get a wee bit higher... to get a better view down to the loch...
...and my effort was rewarded:
Before we actually realised it, we were about half way up the slope and almost at the very bottom of the infamous stone chute. We looked at our watches, then at each other, and finally up to the ridge line, still clear of any cloud. Then we both smiled - for heaven's sake, why not??????
Maybe it was a silly idea, maybe we should have been more careful, but we agreed that sometimes fortune favours the brave... We took the risk! The spell of Beinn Eighe was upon us
So the initial walk to Coire Mhic Fhearchair was unexpectedly extended to look like this:
One more word about the stone chute. Many people say they don't like it, they prefer to go down this way rather than up. Both me and Kevin (he did Beinn Eighe ridge six times, if I counted correctly) found the chute easy enough to climb even in snowy conditions. One just has to be careful and slowly pick the way up, beginning with the bigger boulders at the bottom of the slope:
Higher up one can climb more easily on the scree...
...and just near the top of the chute there was one slightly awkward place, where I had to use my hands to grab the rocks and secure myself. In this picture, I'm still below the most difficult moment:
I was first to reach the top of the chute and I uttered a squeaky sound of triumph... just to notice another group of walkers coming down from Coinneach Mhor. Ooops, should have kept my mouth shut
The views were now stunning, including the one down to the chute and back towards the corrie...
...south-east to Spidean Coire nan Clach...
...and north to Ruadh-stac Mor:
When Kevin joined me, we decided to visit the summit of the latter. A snow shower appeared from nowhere and as we reached the Munro top, it was cloudy, but after a short time it cleared and we were again rewarded for all our efforts.
Slioch and Letterewe mountains:
The Beinn Eighe ridge:
Cheers! A cup of tea and a sandwich o the summit of Ruadh-stac Mhor:
A short break for refreshments and we set off to continue along the ridge. As we both have already ticked off Beinn Eighe's Munros, we didn't worry about getting to the very summit of Spidean Coire nan Clach. We could simply enjoy the ridge walk to the full The plan was to traverse the mountain north to south and descend down the path into Coire an Laoigh. For a time being, we were walking down back to the bealach between Ruadh-stac Mor and Coinneach Mhor.
Short, but steep climb to Coinneach Mhor, another good viewpoint:
Kevin posing with Sail Mhor behind:
Some half way along the ridge between the two Munros there is a rocky outcrop. It served as a plinth with me playing the statue
looking back to the ridge of Ruadh-stac Mor:
Mighty Liathach, also known as The Torridonian Beast...
...and its pinnacles:
On the ridge to Spidean Coire nan Clach:
This is a rocky world:
Almost there! Conditions were still good, the clouds held off and I was certainly the happiest panther on the planet at that very moment
Kevin was happy as well, especially when he could test his camera again:
One more glimpse at the scary beast... It's the next Torridon conquest on my to-do list!
View west to the southern hills of Torridon:
The final push:
With Spidean Coire nan Clach just behind me:
Sgurr Ban and Sgurr nan Fhir Duibhe:
We only climbed as high as the 977m top with the trig point and didn't continue to the second Munro, even though it was only a short distance away. It was getting late and we wanted to get down before the arrival of the darkness.
Bewitched by the mountain, with a smile glued to my face:
The descent route was steep and rather slippery. In icy conditions this path would be a no-no without ice axes, but as the snow was soft, we managed all right:
This was the last opportunity to sink in the incredible views:
As soon as we were below the snow level, the solid path offered us good going all the way down to the road. Next, the least pleasant part of the day, the 1.5 mile long walk along the road back to the car park. It was slowly getting dark... The Moon seemed very big and bright though...
What a fantastic day it was. I couldn't ask for more... Sometimes fortune favours the brave, indeed. Meow!
by jonny616 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:32 pm
by clivegrif » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:47 pm
by EwaMH » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:55 pm
by ChrisW » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:59 pm
by gammy leg walker » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:17 pm
by Klaasloopt » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:18 pm
And: a very convincing allegiance to this Ben.
by Johnny Corbett » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:21 pm
by Collaciotach » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:53 pm
by jimandandrea » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:49 pm
by malky_c » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:15 am
I recommend you give the 'other' ben another chance though
by rockhopper » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:55 am
by Stretch » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:25 am
by kevsbald » Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:47 am