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Back Shift on Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers

Back Shift on Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers


Postby ScottishLeaf » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:28 am

Route description: Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers

Date walked: 22/04/2012

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 10.5 km

Ascent: 970m

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So later than planned on Sunday we set off up to Killin with the intent to bag our biggest Munro yet, Beinn Ghlas :lol: ...then promptly to break this record by claiming Ben Lawers. As relative newbies, we had thought about making these two our first couple of Munros back in February, but being scared off by the "about 4000 feet tag" it took us another few months to work up the courage and fitness :lol: to finally claim Ghlas and Lawers.

On the way up to Killin we past loads and loads of classic cars, heading to a rally somewhere in Perthshire. After we turned off the A85 for several of the classic cars followed and this lead to the humbling experience of watching "Gene Hunt" fire up his Quattro and leaving us standing on the straight section of road just before Killin. My Astra was developing a complex at being over taken by car made in 1984! Astra pride was restored later on as we whizzed by a Porsche, which was forced to pull into a passing place to let us by, on the single track road up the Ben Lawers car park... obviously Porsches weren't designed with the Highlands in mind as is it laboured up the steep road!

The car park at Ben Lawers is execellent and it seems attract unwarranted attention due to it's height. However, the views from it alone are worth the drive. Meall nan Tarmachan over to the left and Beinn Ghlas on the right.

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We were out and walking at around 12 noon and made quick work of the nature reserve path before heading out onto the open hill. As we passed through the second gate we met a couple who had already been up the hills and were heading back for a spot of lunch.... time for the back shift to take over!

As we were walking the views just got better and better. Despite some threatening clouds at different times, we manage to get a good view all around us at different times and very quickly the view back to the south opened up, revealing Ben Vorlich and Stuc A'Chroin over looking Loch Tay.

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Up ahead the views were no less dramatic, Beinn Ghlas looking a set of ribs.

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From here I was wondering why someone would fail to notice a mountain the size of Beinn Ghlas on the way up Ben Lawers as it made for an impressive sight and never seemed to get any closer. After a fairly steep section that zig zagged up onto the ridge, we took a breather for 5 mins and were overtaken by another couple of walkers. As we rested the cars in the car park looked like several tiny specks of glass being reflected in the sunlight, back dropped by a view of the head of Loch Tay and Killin. There was no wind, but as we took in the sight before us we began to feel cool, so it was time to get walking again and all of a sudden we were at the fairly big cairn on the shoulder of Beinn Ghlas, just before the last easy trot up the summit itself. The view back to the west was breathtaking.

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and the way up the summit was clear... The two walkers that had overtaken us clearly visible at the summit.

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The snow here, proved to be no obstacle as it was very shallow and within no time we were up at the top as well. It was here that I realised why Beinn Ghlas is barely noticed... it's summit cairn is miniscule and the summit just feels like a narrow 'bridging' section of path on a ridge before the last pull up onto Lawers.

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By this time the clouds were moving in and out unpredicably, one minute a view would be perfectly clear and the next it would be clagged up, but for now the view across to Ben Lawers was simply magnificent. A stark contrast between the dark coloured rock and the white snow.

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We quickly crossed down the bealach and up onto the ascent of Lawers itself and almost immediately realised the snow here was a fair bit deeper than it had been on Ghlas. After the relatively easy going so far on the walk, it was a shock to the system and our pace slowed markedly. Slipping and sliding, we somehow managed to forge onwards and upwards. A pair of good microspikes or crampons moving up the shopping list with each step taken. The constant watching of where we had to place our feet meant the hill was disappearing behind us without us being really aware of it, though we frequently wandered away from where we thought the path actually was.... sticking to walking in the footsteps of the early shift... was not always the brightest idea. However, we made the rest of the trip to just below the summit with mostly clear skies, in good spirits and without incident despite the hard going under foot. The twin pillars at the top were an eagerly awaited sight and even the momentary spell of clag couldn't dampen the feeling of success at conquering our highest munro yet. The pair of walkers in front didn't spend any more than a couple of minutes at the summit, so my brother and I had the summit all to ourselves.... somethings are good on the back shift!

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When we made the summit the views over to the rest of the Lawer's range, Lochan nan Cat and over towards Kenmore were interupted by momentary spells of fog and clouds rolling by in the light breeze, but it was still a reasonable view. Our vantage point making everything else feel rather small and feeble in comparison to mighty Lawers.

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***It didn't feel like it a the time, but now I look back at the trig point photo, it looks like it's just about to slide off the side of the mountain!***

We settled in for a bite to eat and drink of flask tea in the ledge around the bottom of the trig point, when the weather finally turned for the worse. For the second time in two weekends it was time to make a sharp exit from the summit of a munro. Thankfully, unlike Driesh last weekend the wind wasn't driving the snow into our faces, but the white stuff was beginning to fall heavier and heavier.

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We did discover a quick way down the the hill, where it was safe to do so. Luge!
Feet first, on our bums, lieing back.... weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Great fun lol :lol: :D
An hour from the bealach between Ghlas and Lawers to Lawer's summit on the way up.... 20 minutes on the way down!

With the snow still falling fairly heavily we decided to avoid the reascent of Ghlas and took the bypass path around it. It was a sensible decision, as soon as we were in the shelter of the mountain, the snow stopped and not too long afterwards the sun was back out. Where the sun shone on the snow it began melting and the narrow path was covered in slush and the going was once again slow. Then as if someone had turned a switched, we clambered over a rock and all the snow was gone, leaving us an easy walk down the glen on a well made path. Over to our right we spotted a large herd of deer and a flock of sheep. As soon as the deer spotted us they were off, leaping across the wee burn and the peat. The sheep? Just stood there wondering where all the deer had gone.... softies!

The final part of the walk back through the nature reserve was done in pouring rain, so the sight of the Astra, all on it's lonesome in the car park was a welcome one.

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Time for the night shift to take over...... the day shift's away!
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ScottishLeaf
Wanderer
 
Posts: 355
Munros:114   Corbetts:6
Grahams:2   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Mar 13, 2012
Location: Stenhousemuir

Re: Back Shift on Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers

Postby erin_niamh » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:54 am

great report :D did this walk a couple of months back with lots of deep snow, not quite hard enough for bum slides tho :( shame because this is the best part of hill walking in the snow i think :lol:

my summit photos
summit of beinn ghlas.jpg

summit of Ben Lawers.jpg


as the bypath path passes under ghlas we noticed the snow had formed lots of perfectly shaped little squares, took a minute or two to realise it had obviously been an avalanche :shock: glad i wasnt there when that happened!

Avalanche below Beinn Ghlas.jpg


after putting my various hill walking photos on facebook, i have lots of people wanting to come along with me, this is a walk i would take them on i think
erin_niamh
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Posts: 99
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Location: Glasgow

Re: Back Shift on Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers

Postby ScottishLeaf » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:28 pm

Jings! Fair to say you had a lot of snow then!
The summit cairns on Lawers were only half snow blasted when we were up.
When we went round the bypass, you could there had been lots of tiny wee avalanches down the side of it... Nothing too serious, but it made the hillside look like someone had mountain biked down it!
User avatar
ScottishLeaf
Wanderer
 
Posts: 355
Munros:114   Corbetts:6
Grahams:2   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Mar 13, 2012
Location: Stenhousemuir

Re: Back Shift on Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers

Postby meangarry » Tue May 01, 2012 1:33 am

Nice report dude. :thumbup:
Also that is one crazy trig point photo erin!
Bumslides are a cracking way to get around. :)
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Joined: Mar 24, 2012

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