Doing 'Fifty' on the Lawers 'Five'
by CurlyWurly » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:01 am
Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh
Date walked: 21/02/2010
Time taken: 9 hours
Distance: 21 km
Ascent: 1574mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Beinn Ghlas was the first Munro I had climbed when I moved up to Scotland in 2008. On that occasion it was really cloudy and after summiting Ben Lawers in thick mist I descended the east ridge and dropped down onto the land-rover track and skirted underneath Coire a’ Chonnaidh and back to the visitor centre where the car was parked. With a decent weather forecast, maybe it was time for a repeat visit?
Unfortunately, I would once again be on my own and Emma was not exactly enthusiastic about dropping me off in the early hours and coming back to pick me up from the Lawers Hotel later on in the day. The walk would have to be circular. The plan was to climb Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, An Stuc, Meall Garbh and Meall Greigh and then return along the land-rover track back to the visitor centre, similar to last time.
A big walk like this in winter calls for drastic measures and at 4.15am I was on the motorway heading north to junction 6 of the M90 before picking up the A823 towards Glen Eagles and then on towards Crieff , Loch Earn and then Loch Tay. Bit of a strange way to go but I was too tired to do anything but follow the Sat Nav and by 6am I was pulling onto a dark and deserted car park at the Ben Lawers.
There was no time for Cornish pasties or other delights at this time of the morning and within 15 minutes I was heading up the icy path towards Beinn Ghlas. The weather forecast may have been excellent but that certainly was not the case at 6:30am. It was cold and misty but I was hopeful this was just a little early morning hill fog that would clear as the sun came up. Sure enough as first light approached the mist momentarily cleared to reveal Beinn Ghlas in all her glory. Heading up higher, I came out from the clouds and stopping to put on my crampons I was greeted with Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers above the clouds, basking orange from the glow of the sun.
The approach up to Beinn Ghlas was amazing. The snow was firm and crispy and a delight to walk on with crampons. There is nothing better than having a hill all to yourself and I reflected on this whilst I looked across the horizon, trying to pick out peaks sticking through the cloud.
I could have sat there for hours but I had other ‘fish to fry’ so I pushed on towards Ben Lawers. Whilst the summit had been clear an hour back, the cloud steadily built and as I approached the summit I was fully engulfed.
I only stopped momentarily and pushed on northwards towards An Stuc, my 50th Munro. Occasionally the clouds would disappear for a few seconds but by the time I grabbed my camera it would be engulfed. I followed the long trail of footsteps but conscious of the steep drops to the east I kept a good eye on the map. The path skirted around the side of Creag an Fhithich but I climbed to the summit regardless in the hope of the cloud clearing. This was not to be, so I rejoined the line of footprints and pushed on to the summit of An Stuc.
I was hoping for some amazing view but it was not to be. Fortunately, where my 50th Munro lacked in that department it certainly made up in excitement on the descent. I had read in a few books that there is a little ‘hand on rock’ required on descent and that maybe the case in the summer but in the winter it was a different prospect. Using my ice ace and crampons I ‘kicked in’ and descended slowly down. In hindsight, I think this was pushing it a bit for hill-walking and a rope for security would of been appropriate. As it was, I arrived at the bealach unscathed and quickly pushed up the other side towards Meall Garbh.
Finally the clouds started to disperse and I had a great view to the west of Meall a’Choire Leith. Stopping for some food, I had made good time. It was only 12 o’clock and I only had one more peak to go. I enviously cast my eye westwards towards the other two Munros that made up the Lawers 7. Would it be possible to maybe squeeze these two in today? I was tempted but looking at the map, the only practical route would be to climb up Meall Greigh then back down to the bealach and back up to Meall Garbh. Descend the north-west ridge to the Allt a’ Chobhair and then up onto the north ridge of Meall a’ Choire Leith. It would be tough and I would probably be finishing in the dark but it was ‘do-able’.
Delaying the decision, I pushed on to Meall Griegh, the final Munro of the day and for the first time I met some other people descending as I was approaching the summit. Stopping to chat briefly, I finally ‘topped-out’ at 1pm. My mind wandered back to the other Munro's that make up the seven but in all honesty, I could not be bothered. I had climbed five Munro’s, had a great day and still had the opportunity to be driving home in daylight.
Job done or was it? I may have climbed all the peaks but I was still only half way and had a pretty decent hike back to the car. Descending down the flank to the land-rover track I looked on enviously at the zigzag path that leads down to the Lawers Hotel. It was going to be a long stomp back to the car.
As it was, the walk back was pretty enjoyable. The sun came out and it even warmed up enough for me to take my coat off. Cranking my iPod on I listened to some decent tunes and took it nice and easy back to the car-park. There was a final sting in the tail though. Not bothering to consult my map, I dropped to far down the hillside and instead of hitting the visitor centre, I was a mile short downhill and had to endure a hike back up the hill on the tarmac.
Excellent day all round
by Milesy » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:12 am
How was getting up An Stuc ?
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by Stretch » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:14 am
by CurlyWurly » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:18 am
Milesy wrote:How was getting up An Stuc ?
Maybe the fact that it was misty helped because all I could see was footsteps trodden into the snow disappearing into the gloom and I did not know how steep it was. To be fair, it was really firm and I had no problems descending but in future I think I will save that sort of stuff for the summer
by Alastair S » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:28 am
Excellent report and great photos - I've still got Beinn Ghlas to do so the sooner the better by the look of it
Well done and a great report and photos
by sloosh » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:17 pm
How did you find the walk from the end of the landrover track to the car park? I did that last year during the summer and that section was horrible and took forever through a boggy nightmare. I almost wished I'd gone back over the tops.
by kevsbald » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:24 pm
by CurlyWurly » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:31 pm
sloosh wrote:How did you find the walk from the end of the landrover track to the car park? I did that last year during the summer and that section was horrible and took forever through a boggy nightmare. I almost wished I'd gone back over the tops.
I have done it twice now and it was not exactly pleasant but this time was better becauase the ground was firmer unlike in the summer of 2008 when it was really boggy like when you did it. Do you remember the Dam near the intakes at Allt an Tuim Bhric? It is just after the end of the land rover track. There is a metal steep gangway thing that goes steeply down the hill. I thought it would be a good idea to try and walk down it and went flying on my backside. Fortunately I kind of rolled down to the side and managed to stop. Would of been ironic to have an accident there after coming out unscathed from the ridge
I would not recommend that route but if you only have one car and you want to do all five then you do not have much choice..
by malky_c » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:36 pm
I did this group (apart from the eastern one) in a big horseshoe from Glen Lyon. Weather was pretty variable but it was a great route.
by sloosh » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:38 pm
CurlyWurly wrote: Do you remember the Dam near the intakes at Allt an Tuim Bhric? It is just after the end of the land rover track. There is a metal steep gangway thing that goes steeply down the hill. I thought it would be a good idea to try and walk down it and went flying on my backside.
I remember it well. I thought I was going to fall on my behind walking down that in the summer nevermind with snow or ice on it. I somehow assumed you'd skirted past it and went down the hillside (that would be bad enough mind you). Man, it would've been ironic if you'd come to grief on that. You'd probably only be found come the spring if you'd taken a header off it.
by Graeme D » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:35 pm
I don't think I'd fancy the walk back from where the landrover track starts to descend across the pathless territory back to the visitor centre either... when we planned to do all 5, we were going to park under where the landrover track comes out, go along that to the slopes under M Greigh, go up that, the opposite way round the horseshoe and then just drop back down to the start from Meall Ghlas... Superb effort anyway!
- mountain coward
by HighlandSC » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:03 pm
by gaffr » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:57 pm