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(Lack of) Adventure on An Stuc

(Lack of) Adventure on An Stuc


Postby weaselmaster » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:51 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh

Date walked: 06/04/2013

Time taken: 9.19 hours

Distance: 20.7 km

Ascent: 1770m

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Today we'd planned to go up Stuchd an Lochain & Meall Bhuide, probably as a circuit round Loch na Diamh which was going to be a straightforward walk before I head off on holiday tomorrow. However, we arrived at the wee road past Lawers car park to Lochan na Lairig to find it *CLOSED* so we weren't going up that way. The alternative of driving away round to the start of Glen Lyon and risking the probability that snow would be shutting the road higher up wasn't attractive either, so the Plan B was the 3 hills east of Lawers. An Stuc had been on the radar for some time, but I kept readign things about it - most recently in Hamish's Mountain Walk - that made me a bit scared of it and we'd kept putting it off. But here was a great chance to see what it was really like :roll:

Parked at the Lawers Hotel and set off along the road then through the tree lined route on what could have been a perfect summer's morning - apart from the snow and the -4 temperature, obviously.
Image
walk start by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
warning by 23weasels, on Flickr
Saw a couple of guys ahead of us on Meall Greigh - was a gentle pull up the side of the hill and we chatted to them at the top. Sky was clear, there were some lovely views over to Lawers and along Loch Tay, which had a few flat clouds lying high above it. Another great Scottish morning.
Image
more clouds over the loch by 23weasels, on Flickr

I kept looking at the prow of An Stuc as it rose behind our next target, Meall Garbh. Even from this distance it looked steep and forbidding.
Image
first sight an stuc by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
lawers & pals by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
lawers by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
top meall greigh by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
towards meall garbh by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
meall garbh by 23weasels, on Flickr
We headed over the plateau to Meall Garbh, noting a party of about 7 guys behind, and some skiiers who looked like they were having great fun as they whizzed down the slopes. Was a bit of a slog up MG, but I just kept counting steps and guessing how many it would take til I got to a flat bit. On the way up I noticed that a line of fence posts had been turned into snow boulders by the build up of frost - these looked like the vertebrae of some dinosaur wending up the hill.
Image
fenceposts made into boulders by 23weasels, on Flickr

made the summit of MG in reasonable time and stopped to have lunch on a spot where we could study An Stuc's face. We'd met a couple of guys who were doing the 7 and had passed in the opposite direction - they'd found AS scary coming down, with lots of loose ice and rotten snow. Hmmm.

Image
an stuc by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
an stuc by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
an stuc by 23weasels, on Flickr
As we were enjoying coffee, the group of 7 passed by - young lads, some in shorts and trainers, not a crampon or ice axe between them. Fit but foolish, I thought. They headed off to AS, with gay abandon and a couple of them did try to go up the face, but didn't get very far before lack of being able to go any further caused slipping and sliding and they sensibly retreated. By this time a guy and his Springer Spaniel had come up - introduced later as Hutchy1 from on here, and as he obviously had some experience we had a discussion about what to do. The main problem was the quality of the snow - in crisp firm neve I'd have been happy to head up the face of AS, probably heading round to the south side rather than going straight up the shoulder "path". However, in this mix of soft, crumbly snow with the odd frozen section, I was much less sure that it would hold. We could try it - which i nearly did; we could give up and retreat down to Lochan nan Cat or we could head down Cat Gully, go round the Lochan and head back up Bealach Dubh, ascending by the descent route. On the map this looked a reasonable option and I didn't fancy missing out on claiming AS today - but it did have the heartbreaking consequence of dropping 400m to the Lochan, then re-ascending it all. Ach well, there's not much else for it...
Image
an stuc rear by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
an stuc rear by 23weasels, on Flickr
Heading down Cat Gully was steep and there was a bit of a worry about avalanches, although the snow didn't seem that deep, nor was there a great lot of it in any one place. We tracked round the N side of Lochan nan Cat and up the bealach which was steep but straightforward until we came to the crags round the rear of AS. Again this was an uncomplicated business of walking 150m up the steep hill towards the top. There were good views across to Lawers set against a strangely ominous sky.
Image
towards summit as by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
lawers by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
lawers by 23weasels, on Flickr

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me & springer an stuc by 23weasels, on Flickr

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hutchie 1 by 23weasels, on Flickr
A couple of bum slides on the way down and a long walk out across soft, energy sapping snow. It had taken over 9 hours to get back to the Hotel for a well-earned pint. Met the couple of lads who we'd talked to on Meall Greigh - they had gone up the East face of AS but said there was a tricky section near the top. in any case, pleased to have got the chance to climb these three on a nice clear day :D

Image
coming down by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
avalanches!! by 23weasels, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: (Lack of) Adventure on An Stuc

Postby dtaylor5632 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:09 am

Great report!
We tried to do the Lawers range a couple of weeks ago during the storms but quickly realized it would be suicidal. Well done in what you did, I hope to make another attempt at the Lawers in a couple of weeks and hopefully this time the snow won't be up to my waist with 60mph winds blowing me about :)
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dtaylor5632
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Re: (Lack of) Adventure on An Stuc

Postby hutchy1 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:49 pm

Hi Weasel a great report for a great walk im glad you talked me into the reaccent of an stuc my legs have just about recovered :) was nice to walk with you and your good lady
hutchy1
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Re: (Lack of) Adventure on An Stuc

Postby Sabbathstevie » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:48 pm

Great report as ever, and that third from last picture is simply jaw dropping!!
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Sabbathstevie
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Re: (Lack of) Adventure on An Stuc

Postby rockhopper » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:34 pm

Another good trip and some great views - sounded challenging at times ! Can remember finding An Stuc hard enough without the snow - not sure I'd like to try it in winter ! - cheers :)
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rockhopper
 
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Re: (Lack of) Adventure on An Stuc

Postby tullius0618 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:39 pm

Planning on completing the last three on the ridge, with An Stuc being the one that "bothers" me, so thanks for your report, it's a great help.

Also, your photos are fantastic, I'm green with envy!
tullius0618
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