9 - 5 on Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean: Kinlochleven Day 1
by Graeme D » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:04 am
Munros included on this walk: Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean
Date walked: 09/11/2013
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 13.5 km
Ascent: 1410m5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
After an evening catching up and making plans in the hostel and the MacDonald Hotel, a fairly large group had declared themselves up for the Binnein Mor - Na Gruaghaichean route. And so I set off through the village in the company of eight others, none of whom I had walked with before - Kev, Stuart and Hayley (the Hawick lads and lass), Barrie (Tina Bonar) and Colleen, Sue (Rum Truffle), Louise and Evie (Sunny Speyside).
8.30am - leaving the Blackwater Hostel
We headed up the path past the church and into the trees around the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall. Soon we were blundering around making heavy work of the network of paths and junctions in the trees and struggling to get an accurate picture from maps and GPS devices. At least others seemed to be in the same boat - at one point we encountered Paul, Helen, Pete and Pat retracing their steps and informing us that we were heading the wrong way!
Through the woods between the church and the Grey Mare's Tail
Still all present and correct
Back across Loch Leven
Kinlochleven and Garbh Bheinn
Kinlochleven and Loch Leven
Alistair and Alison soon powered past us - they looked like they were on a mission, or at least Alistair did. Then we took our first hit when Evie and Hayley bailed out. The drizzle was now getting steadier and thicker as we gained height and it didn't look too promising for the day ahead.
Taking a wee breather after the steep climb out of town
We parted company with Paul, Helen, Pete and Pat at the junction on the stalker's path where they headed for the Corbett Glas Bheinn and the remaining seven in our group headed around the other side of Loch Eilde Mor and towards Sgurr Eilde Beag.
Now two down - at the junction shortly after parting company with Helen, Paul, Pete and Pat
Heading for Loch Eilde Mor
Sgurr Eilde Beag
Sue (Rum Truffle) and Louise, and the view back towards Kinlochleven
Loch Eilde Mor in the foreground and Blackwater Reservoir in the background
Sue was the next to return to the hostel and then we were six. At least the weather seemed to be improving with growing patches of blue sky forming overhead.
As we contoured around the lower slopes of Sgurr Eilde Beag, we could see Alistair and Alison taking the direct route up the slopes rather than swinging around the back as per the more common route. Stories had reached us of large overhanging cornices and avalanche debris round in the coire, so we decided to follow them up the direct slopes.
I led the way, attempting to follow Alistair and Alison and the steps they had kicked on their way up. At times I lost them and had to kick my own steps - heavy going in the rising temperatures as the sun increasingly burned through.
Climbing Sgurr Eilde Beag above Loch Eilde Mor - Colleen, Louise, Stuart (Radman) and Barrie (Tina Bonar)
Then our numbers were further reduced when Louise decided she had seen enough and beat a retreat back to the hostel, leaving five of us to soldier on.
As we gained height past the steepest and most powdery parts of the ascent, Sgurr Eilde Mor began to shine white like a beacon away across the lochan to our right and we soon passed Alistair and Alison as they sat having lunch and admiring the views.
Kev and Barrie
Sgurr Eilde Mor and Sgurr Eilde Beag
Trudging towards the main Mamores ridge - Alistair and Alison in our sights
Sgurr Eilde Beag
Sgurr Eilde Mor - a surreal vision in white
Lunchtime for Alistair and Alison
Another wee breather
Some more Sgurr Eilde Mor
We were soon onto the ridge and could see the way ahead up the ridge to Binnein Mor. What we couldn't see at this stage were the huge cornices on the south side of the ridge that made foot placement a little nerve racking when the ridge tapered towards the narrow summit. There was even one that resembled a gargoyle!
Reaching the main ridge and a view of the way ahead to Binnein Mor
Let's take this bad boy down!
Summit of Binnein Mor
Barrie and the Gargoyle - Barrie's the one on the right!
Alistair and Alison joined us at the summit and we exchanged the necessary group photos before returning to the bealach where we sat in the relative shelter of the south side of the ridge and had lunch.
The five survivors at the summit of Binnein Mor
If I'm looking a little unhappy, it's less to do with the fact that I've just claimed my 150th Munro and more to do with the fact that my eyeballs are literally being gouged out by the wind!
Strung out heading back down to the bealach
The twin tops of Na Gruaghaichean
Almost back at the bealach
Then it was along the thick, powdery, corniced ridge towards Na Gruaghaichean for Munro number two of what had turned out to be a superb early winter outing.
Back to Binnein Mor
Making tracks for Na Gruaghaichean
Yet more Sgurr Eilde Mor
On the ridge to Na Gruaghaichean
The Ring of Steall
Binnein Mor, Loch Eilde Mor and Blackwater
One heavily corniced ridge
Closing in on Na Gruaghaichean
Binnein Mor once more
Me and the Hawick lads on Na Gruaghaichean
Discussing the descent back to Kinlochleven
We descended towards the broad shoulder of Leachd an h-Aire but struck off south west before reaching it, instead staggering our way down rough slopes which became increasingly slippery and treacherous as we descended below the snow line.
Am Bodach and Stob Coire a'Chairn
Descending towards the broad shoulder of Leachd na h-Aire
About to bear south west on the slopes from hell
Back to Na Gruaghaichean
Paul had asked us if we could look out for a gate or stile over the deer fence at the bottom but despite a quick search, we could find no other way across but to climb the fence. Then it only remained to follow the narrow, winding path that lead back down past the Grey Mare's Tail into the village, where a swift libation stop was made at the Tailrace Inn before returning to HQ at the Blackwater Hostel.
Kinlochleven, Loch Leven and Garbh Bheinn
Loch Leven and Mam na Gualain
by PeteR » Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:04 am
You got some excellent photos there, despite the mist and clag on the day. Looks like one tough route in that snow though. Some of those ridge shots look pretty daunting to me.
by davetherave » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:34 am
Im very jealous. I can only hope to get a winrers day similar 2 yours some time soon .
Looked like a fantastic outing.
by Collaciotach » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:29 am
by malky_c » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:39 am
by weaselmaster » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:48 pm
Belated congrate on getting to 150 - didn't realise that at the time
by tina bonar » Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:44 pm
We wouldn't have tackled this on our own but really enjoyed it with you and the Hawick Boys.Gaining experience is what these Meets are all about,that and the ale
by RadMan » Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:00 pm
Well done again on reaching 150, it was great to share the occasion with you.
by trekker53 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:44 pm
Looks like the 5 of you's who stuck it out had a good day out though maybe a bit tough in places. Some good ridge photos of the snow. Congrats on getting to 150 + 1. A better weekend then and more productive than the one on Skye.
by scottishkennyg » Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:19 pm