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An Stuc(ky) situation!
by 2dalmatians » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:31 pm
Route description: Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh and An Stuc
Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers)
Date walked: 12/03/2012
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 1200m7 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).
Anyway Ruby and I set off from the Lawers hotel car park at 0845 a little late due to an unscheduled search for an open petrol station between Callandar and Crianlarich!
Having climbed Meall Greigh last summer as part of my first wild camp I didn’t fancy the slog up this one again so opted instead to follow the burn further up heading toward the beallach at Larig Innein. I was wearing my new Meindl Burma Pro boots for the first time and I am glad to say they were fantastic all day long. Ruby didn’t fancy tackling the little bridge so opted for the wet route. (I was so tired on the way back that I did the same!!!)
Pic 2 - bridge
Pic 3 – ruby under bridge
The feeling of isolation began to grow as I walked alone without sight of anyone else. This was magnified when I came across this sheep skeleton.
As I approached the Bealach I spotted a couple of walkers ahead – the first sign of anyone since setting out.
We exchanged waves and that was the last I saw of them all day.
The weather had been fine up until this point with very little wind, although the clouded summits suggested worse was to come. And how true that was!! As I headed up the steeper ascent to Meall Garbh and into the cloud the wind really picked up and the chill was significant. I decided I should stop and put on an extra layer and don my hat and gloves. While in the middle of this process (note to self – do this before getting cold and remember to put your jacket on with the wind at your back – much easier and less chance of your jacket flying off the side of the mountain followed by the onset of hypothermia!!) a man and young boy (10/12 yrs maybe?) came bounding down the path full of energy. They had just topped Garbh and thus completed the Lawers range – congrats to both!
We finally made it to the summit of Meall Garbh after 3 hours. I must admit I was feeling it in my legs and really didn’t like the conditions at all – no visibility and very strong winds. At this point the summit of An stuc was looking like a trip for another day.
However I thought that as I was so close I might as well go and have a look at the east face climb. We got to the Beallach between Garbh and An Stuc had a drink and bite to eat while trying to establish a route to tackle – it looked very sinister. On the pull up to Garbh we had also passed a group of 4 walkers with 2 dogs. They had just come down the east face and said that although it had been difficult with a lot of loose rock/scree and that it was probably easier going up!
So decision made – I was going for it (in any case I didn’t fancy the slog back up Meall Garbh to get home). I put my microspikes on which significantly boosted my confidence and off we went.
There is a well worn path at the start which takes you up around 50% of the climb. My tactics were simple – take it slowly and be sure of each step and don’t look down!!! I think the heavy mist actually made it less intimidating. Ruby had no problems and followed up behind. I stopped every few minutes to catch my breath and snap a couple of pics.
As we climbed higher the incline got steeper and the loose scree became worse. There were a lot of places where large rocks previously held firmly together with dirt/grass/ice were precariously loose! On several occasions I had to change my next step as it became clear the footing wasn’t solid enough. I am a big guy at over 16 stone so when my weight goes down it has to hold – or else!
Just as I thought the climb was going well I looked up and realised I was stuck! I had taken a left fork a little earlier and realised the climb ahead was just way too steep and loose. Going back down wasn’t a preferred option and just as I could feel the panic begin to surge I looked up over to my left to see Ruby heading round a blind corner. Looking down to my left there were a couple of well worn footsteps, and so with a bit of effort I heaved myself up not knowing what was round the corner but trusting that Ruby had found an accessible route. If this had been a mistake I would probably still be there right now as I really don’t believe I could have made it back down!!
And there she was just sitting waiting for me with only 20-30 meters of easy scramble to reach the summit ridge!
Pic 17 – 197. Just at the point where I have finished the scramble and I know I am safe - looking a bit rattled me thinks!
I have no doubt that for many experienced walkers this scramble is a piece of cake, however I also know that but for good luck (and a faithful spotty dog) it could have been a very dangerous place for me. I would definitely suggest against a solo ascent unless you are an experienced walker with good scrambling skills. I would also rate this scramble as more difficult than Stuc a Chroin, but again maybe I got luckier with my route that day…
We reached the summit of An Stuc after about 4. 5 hours walking
another one for the scrap book.
After a couple of quick photos at the cairn we headed down towards our exit off the ridge at Beallach Dubh/Ravens Gully
Soon we got our first views of Lochan nan Cat
However before reaching the safety of the Corrie floor I realised I was going to have to tackle another fear – a controlled bum slide on snow. The last one I attempted nearly ended in complete disaster over a gully up on An Caistel but for the rugby tackles of Andy and Rick. I escaped that one with only a few cuts and bruises. This time I was on my own. The route down is described as on steep grass which was correct. I picked my way down avoiding the snow patches until I got the last section. I suppose I could have climbed back up and found another route but I was knackered by this point. So I sat down for a few minutes to gather my breath and sort my approach in my head. I tried my spikes on the snow but it was too soft to take a firm bite.
No other option, I eased my bum onto the snow spikes in and off I went – yeeeehaaa!!! 10 seconds later, safe and sound with only the long walk out ahead.
I guess my only disappointment from today was the lack of views from up top, however for many reasons this is one of my personal favourites so far.
panorama Lochan nan Cat
The walk back along the lochan shore was very picturesque and took my mind off how tired I was.
After 7 hours I was delighted when I finally saw the sight of the local A&E unit (aka The Ben Lawers Hotel )
Hillwalker first aid – As Vinnie say “pay your sovereign and eat fast/drink slow to the beat of Stayin Alive ”
A great way to finish the day
by basscadet » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:41 pm
Anyways, I'm feeling rather jealous right now - you lucky peep
by Johnny Corbett » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:50 pm
by 2dalmatians » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:52 pm
- Looking over tho Meall Greigh from Lochan nan Cat
- one for Rubys scrap book
- Looking up to Lawers, an stuc and Meall Garbh from the slopes of Meall Greigh
by quoman » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:58 pm
As for the scrambly bit to the left i was on my hands and knee's
by Del246 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:37 pm
by jonny616 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:41 pm
by rockhopper » Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:16 am
by 2dalmatians » Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:59 pm
Johnny C - the meal I had at the hotel afterwards ( chicken breast wrapped in bacon and stuffed with haggis and black pudding, served with seasonable veg and a whiskey cream sauce and one very cold and very delicious pint of Guinness) was simply superb!!! If only mrs 2d could cook that well - she would definitely get 10/10 instead of the average 9.5
by pigeon » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:15 pm
by gammy leg walker » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:30 pm
by davetherave » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:38 pm
Thanks for the report.
by Bod » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:42 pm
ps...Ritchie enjoyed An Stuc too
by Malckyb » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:47 pm