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Cruachan Horseshoe

Cruachan Horseshoe


Postby Jock McJock » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:59 pm

Route description: Ben Cruachan and Stob Daimh

Munros included on this walk: Ben Cruachan, Stob Daimh

Date walked: 25/04/2012

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1376m

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So, it’s midweek, but I’ve missed the midweek sneaky peak clubs outing as it was yesterday, Tuesday, and my days off are Wednesday and Thursday :( . Jonny, Andy and Polly got to have some fun in the snow on Beinn a’Ghlo while I sat in work, not fair :( . Still smarting from this late on Tuesday night, they then rub my nose in it by showing off the pics on a well known social networking site :lol: . Right that’s it I thought, I'm not having that, I’m going out tomorrow, on my own!! As we say in my neck of the woods, gerritupye!! :lol: :lol:

Two plans immediately sprang to mind. Beinn Buidhe, which I’d had my eye for a while and Ben Cruachan. Quick check of the weather and it looks like the best of it is in the west so bang on with these two. With a 60% cloud free prediction I opted for Ben Cruachan. I had wanted to do this one for a while and with the prospect of some good weather I couldn’t resist. So quick pack of my gear and off to bed for an early rise.

Up and away just after 7am and I arrive at the start point approaching half eight. Weather looking overcast, lots of low cloud around but the wind is blowing it along so I’m hopeful that it’ll change. Get myself sorted out and away at half eight on the dot. The wee walk up through the woods is nice and soon gets you warmed up for what lies ahead. After an hour I’m at the dam. I’ve seen loads of pics of it but it’s hard to get the scale of it until you stand right next to it, lets just say it’s bloody big! :shock:

DSC04918.JPG
Looking back down from just below the dam.


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Cruachan Dam


So I’m off up the ladder and onto the top of the dam. Once on top it’s as per the WH route, along the left side of the reservoir, following the track to the end and then off up the hill. As I walked along the track I could see the ridge high above, looks like some snow still left up there I thought, that might be fun 8) . Found the cut off point from the end of the track and off I went up towards the bhealach.

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Along the track at the side of the reservoir, the snowy ridge above.


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Looking back to the top of the dam.


DSC04937.JPG
The path heads straight up the centre of this pic to the bhealach.


The weather was constantly changing, cloud coming and going, views one minute, none the next. This kept things interesting and the scenery seemed to change from one minute to the next. The walk up to the bhealach is straightforward enough and once I was up there the views really started to open up albeit intermittently.

DSC04947.JPG
View on the bhealach.


From here it’s a straight, steep climb to the top, which I couldn’t see as it was in the cloud. This is where the fun started…….. :shock:

DSC04951.JPG
It's thataway.............somewhere


As I mentioned earlier there was still a lot of snow about. The way up to the top goes through a boulder field almost from the bhealach to the summit. The snow was a half inch deep in some places and 4ft deep in others, only you couldn’t really tell until you stood on it. Step, step, step, sink in up to my knees, step, step, step, sink in up to my thigh. This went on and on and on. I couldn’t tell where the rocks were and where the spaces between them were as the snow was pretty level over all of it. Needless to say it was pretty tiring but I got to the summit eventually. The views were still coming and going and the wind was really gusting hard. I sat a while and took stock. Do I continue and do the ridge and the other Munro, or do I call it a day and head back the way I came?

DSC04952.JPG
Views on the way up, Loch Awe


DSC04953.JPG
Views on the way up, back to the dam.


DSC04956.JPG
Getting into the cloud.......and the snow!


DSC04964.JPG
Ben Cruachan summit.


I could intermittently see the ridge below and it didn’t look too bad as far as snow cover was concerned. I couldn’t see Stob Diamh though so wasn’t sure how the ascent of that would be compared with what I had just done. I could see the steep descent off Cruachan and was slightly worried as I was on my own but it didn’t look any worse than going back down the way I came up. The weather was still half decent, it wasn’t looking like worsening and as yet there had been no rain, snow, hail etc. I decided to press on.

DSC04967.JPG
Views of the dam and Loch Awe from the top.


DSC04968.JPG
The ridge below.


I set off down Ben Cruachan towards the ridge. Again lots of rocks and snow but I was getting wise to it now and realised that you could just make out dark patches beneath the snow, those were the rocks. So hop from one dark patch to the other seemed to be the best bet and it worked, most of the time. I still ended up deep in the snow on occasion but less often than before. Before I knew it I was at the bad step. I had read about this and seen pics of it but believe me it’s not called the bad step for nothing. It’s a big, steep slab of rock with a huge drop behind and to the side and it goes off towards the reservoir side pretty steeply too. Due to the wind, snow, wet rock etc I opted to bypass the steepest part and skirted round below, which still wasn’t that easy, and then attained the ridge further along.

DSC04970.JPG
The bad step.............'nuff said!


DSC04971.JPG
As above..........


From there it was a pretty easy walk along the ridge. Looking back the descent off Ben Cruachan looked pretty nasty and it was hard to think I’d just come down there. The route ahead looked good though and I was starting to get the odd view of Stob Diamh too. I stopped about half way along the ridge for something to eat. I found myself a nice big rock to sit behind out of the wind and a nice view out over the dam and down Loch Awe. The views here on a good day must be tremendous. Due to the low cloud I was limited in the distance that I could see but it was still pretty good.

DSC04980.JPG
Looking back up Ben Cruachan


DSC04995.JPG
Looking back along the ridge.


DSC04998.JPG
Back up the ridge to Ben Cruachan.


One refuelled I was off again. I soon found the cairn at Drochaid Ghlas and turned right, down towards the ridge that would take me up to Stob Diamh. It’s a very steep descent off from Drochaid Ghlas and I was glad to be down on the ridge below. The snow was making it a bit slippy underfoot too. From there it was off up Stob Diamh for my second Munro of the day. Again, nearing the top the snow got deeper and filled the gaps between the rocks, making it a very tiring slog to the top. If anything the snow was deeper here and softer meaning that it just wouldn’t support my weight at all. But it was only when you transferred your weight onto your leading foot that it sunk in, knee deep a lot of the time.

DSC05004.JPG
Cairn below Drochaid Ghlas.......right turn Clyde.......


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The way down from Drochaid Ghlas to the ridge below.


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The wee ascent up to Stob Diamh.....pffftttt......


By the time I got to the summit on Stob Diamh my legs were really starting to feel like lead. Don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a cairn in my life. The cloud was coming and going and the wind was getting stronger at this point so I didn’t hang around too long on the top.

DSC05012.JPG
Summit of Stob Diamh.


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Stob Garbh ahead.


DSC05041.JPG
Top of Stob Garbh with a clear Stob Diamh behind.


I dropped down a little towards Stob Garbh and had a little rest. From there the way out is plain to see and after another wee refuel I was off again. Down along the ridge and then up onto Stob Garbh (could really have done without another ascent at this point!!), quick pic on the top and off down towards the dam. The path down was fine, mostly easy to follow but seemed to take an age to get down to the dam. My knees were now really protesting and I just wanted to be down off the steep stuff. Once back at the dam again it was as per the WH route and back to the car. Check of the watch showed I had been walking for 9 hours and it felt like it :crazy: .

DSC05042.JPG
Looking back up to Ben Cruachan, the ridge and Drochaid Ghlas.


This was a hard day for me but a thoroughly enjoyable one. I’d had a few squeaky bum moments coming down Ben Cruachan and walking on the airy ridge, constantly changing weather, hard going through deep, soft snow, ascents and descents, great constantly changing views, and the place to myself all day. This is why I walk in the hills, you never know what you’re going to get until you get there. When it’s over and you’re knackered, sore, cold, wet and starving and you’ve still got a huge smile on your face it really must be bloody good! And it was!! :D :D
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Jock McJock
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Jock McJock » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:11 pm

Report finished and posted :D
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby monty » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:06 pm

Great stuff Jock. Those snow fields sap your strength. Looks dodgy near the tilted slabs :lol: Good effort. :D
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby pollyh33 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:29 pm

Oh JMcJ aka MMcM aka one of the Lochnagar four and frequenter of dodgy bars :shock: When I saw your numerous photos on that well known networking site I knew this would be a cracking report and I was right!! (had to happen one of these days!!!)

Massive, dangerous walk to undertake at any time but under those conditions it is a fabulous achievement!!!

Well done MMMMMMatey :clap: :clap:
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby jonny616 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:49 pm

Nice one mate. Love the fact that in your slabs pic half of them are missing because they are covered in snow :lol:

Meet up soon for another MWSP 8)
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Jock McJock » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:22 pm

monty wrote:Great stuff Jock. Those snow fields sap your strength. Looks dodgy near the tilted slabs :lol: Good effort. :D


Cheers Monty, yeah my legs were done in by the end, when the snow is like that it's a killer.
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Jock McJock » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:24 pm

[quote="pollyh33"]Oh JMcJ aka MMcM aka one of the Lochnagar four and frequenter of dodgy bars :shock: When I saw your numerous photos on that well known networking site I knew this would be a cracking report and I was right!! (had to happen one of these days!!!)

Massive, dangerous walk to undertake at any time but under those conditions it is a fabulous achievement!!!

Well done MMMMMMatey :clap: :clap:[/quot

Thanks Polly, I think :lol: :lol: And not a banana case in sigth!! :shock:
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Jock McJock » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:26 pm

jonny616 wrote:Nice one mate. Love the fact that in your slabs pic half of them are missing because they are covered in snow :lol:

Meet up soon for another MWSP 8)


Cheers Jonny, didn't like those slabs :shock: :shock: MWSP sounds good mate :D
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby weescotsman » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:36 pm

Congrats.
Took me about 9 hrs as well for the round trip in similar conditions and I was fair scunnered with them 2 weeks ago..... the route from Cruachan to the ridge is mighty scary indeed, as are those slabs...... but I survived. :)

As for that boulder field to the Cruachan summit, it seemed never ending....

We had great views on a mostly clear day, but even then I can't see me ever wanting to do this pair again in a hurry..... :shock:
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby pollyh33 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:37 pm

Jock McJock wrote:
Thanks Polly, I think :lol: :lol: And not a banana case in sigth!! :shock:



Er what do you mean...''I think'' ????
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby 2dalmatians » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:44 pm

Was looking over at that ridge yesterday in clear blue skies. Was scared of it from 2 miles away. Great effort Jock and very descriptive report. I doubt I would have tackled it in the same conditions. :shock:
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Bod » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:45 pm

Great report JMcJ, enjoyed your detailed description and pics very much....:)
We're off up on Saturday, all going to plan. Cheers :)
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby mountain thyme » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:19 pm

well done JMcJ.. it is always tougher in the snow..whens mags getting out with you??
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Jock McJock » Tue May 01, 2012 10:56 am

pollyh33 wrote:
Jock McJock wrote:
Thanks Polly, I think :lol: :lol: And not a banana case in sigth!! :shock:



Er what do you mean...''I think'' ????


"had to happen one of these days"?? :lol: :lol: Cheeky bugger :lol: :lol:
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Re: Cruachan Horseshoe

Postby Jock McJock » Tue May 01, 2012 10:58 am

weescotsman wrote:Congrats.
Took me about 9 hrs as well for the round trip in similar conditions and I was fair scunnered with them 2 weeks ago..... the route from Cruachan to the ridge is mighty scary indeed, as are those slabs...... but I survived. :)

As for that boulder field to the Cruachan summit, it seemed never ending....

We had great views on a mostly clear day, but even then I can't see me ever wanting to do this pair again in a hurry..... :shock:


Cheers weescotsman. It is a tough old bugger but I think I'd go back again on a better day, during the summer maybe cause it's a cracking walk. Legs were sore next day though :lol:
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