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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.
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Buachaille Etive Beag
by yokehead » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:16 pm
Route description: Buachaille Etive Beag
Munros included on this walk: Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)
Date walked: 31/01/2010
Distance: 7.9 km
Ascent: 906mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Back up to Scotland at last, a 2 week visit arranged late in the day. Not having been on the hills for 6 months I decided on a gentle-ish start to my hill days, this not being too far to walk distance wise. Apologies this report and those following are so late, no internet access whilst I was there and no time since!
I parked up at the car park opposite the cairn, having read up on the tourist route, although I was looking to do a circuit route if possible rather than the ups and downs from the bealach. And so it turned out. The walk starts along the Lairig Eilde footpath and soon branches to the left; it is a well built path so progress is easy.
I took my time to take in the surroundings – how I’ve missed the Scottish hills in the year since I visited last! The path climbs steadily towards the bealach but about halfway along I turned to the east to climb straight toward the summit of Stob Coire Raineach, the snow that awaited couldn’t be resisted! It was a good choice, the snow conditions were perfect for crampons, hard and compacted all the way up and in fact this turned out to be the best sustained snow in the 2 weeks I was there. The route was of interest, a decent slope and a couple of short vertical sections for some front-pointing.
Views opened out, the ridge to Stob Dubh looked fine as did Beinn Fhada and the Bidean massif.
Below were some large groups making their way up the path and there were others on winter skills training on the slopes south of the bealach, a busy Sunday. I weaved through the few larger rock outcrops higher up and was please to arrive at the summit almost bang on the cairn. A great start to the day in every way! Views to the east now, the big Buachaille and beyond, the cloud staying just above the tops. A magnificent scene all around, you just can’t beat winter!
I headed straight down the snow-covered bouldery slope to the bealach, the descent was quick and easy but I was glad I hadn’t had to climb it! There hadn’t been any wind on the summit but, strangely, there was quite a blow at the bealach and on the lower slopes of the climb to the 902m top. The wind-scoured snow was hard lower down and I stopped for a couple of minutes to watch the antics of 3 people glissading and running across the slopes on boot edges, no crampons for them! I skirted the top to the west so I could stay on the hard snow, the view along the ridge then opened out fully.
This ridge, ending with the curving, rising slope to the summit really lifted my heart – what a superbly formed mountain it is. The walk along the ridge with its ups and downs, then up to the summit cairn was an absolute delight. Here I stopped for quite a while and found my obligatory comfy sheltered seat, taking it all in whilst I had sandwiches and coffee. I’ve read in a couple of books that the writer finds summits ‘no place to linger’, well I couldn’t disagree more, I could stay for hours (unless it’s blowing a gale or there’s no views of course)! There were quite a few footprints in the snow to the summit but surprisingly no-one had carried on to the end of the ridge to the south, where there are great views down to Loch Etive.
Eventually I made my way back along the ridge and over the 902m top this time, passing quite a few groups in training. I headed toward the bealach but then cut the corner a bit to reach the path lower down. Crampons off and then a great walk down to end the day. No matter how much you’ve read about the mountains and the opinions of others, your own take on the merits of a particular mountain is unique to you of course. For me, the little Buachaille is wonderful and delivered a more positive reaction than I’d expected.
Back at the car park I could see who were the organisers of the training groups, must have lost their way - hope it wasn't a navigation course.
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