Glorious Garbh Beinn - one of Loch Leven's finest
by clivegrif » Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:06 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Garbh Bheinn (Loch Leven)
Date walked: 15/02/2014
Time taken: 5 hours
Distance: 6 km
Ascent: 810m4 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).
In the mountains sometimes the weather is with you, and on other times it just isn’t.
So it was for our winter trip this year. All fleeting hopes of the CMD arête or the Ring of Steal faded completely as we crossed Rannock Moor in truly manky weather.
Even our easier options proved too difficult. In the next couple of days our merry band was beaten off Garbh Bheinn in Ardour and then Streap, by howling winds that threw spindrift so hard that it felt like you were being hit by flying gravel. This was coupled with deep soft lying snow, low cloud and heavy snow showers.
So the last throw of the dice had to be well considered. The wind direction had swung round to a northerly, but it would remain showery. My list of worthwhile Corbetts (thanks Malky_C, haven’t come across a dud one yet!) revealed a possible and the maps confirmed it. Garbh Bheinn in Loch Leven. Lying in the wind-shadow of the Nevis range and the Mamores, and significantly lower than its neighbours, it looked a good and shapely option.
As we set off from the bridge near to the Caolasnacon farm and caravan park, leaden clouds were scudding across the sky above us. We climbed steadily up a wide and slightly soggy path for a few hundred yards, before heading more steeply up a faint path to meet the ridge line alongside some minor crags. The views were already opening up nicely.
It wasn’t long before we met the snow-line and once again we were squelching through soft unconsolidated snow that steadily grew deeper and harder work. We noticed a large group bombing up the hill behind us, using our tracks – hmmmm…..
We made it over the minor top of Torran nan Crann and into the shelter of a scoop in the shallow col beyond. Time for a strategic cup of coffee and a bite to eat. The face of the leader of the group was a picture as he saw us lot sitting around chatting. ‘Hello’ we smiled cheerily, all innocence and light, as they trudged past into the unbroken snow. Har, har, har!!!
We left a diplomatic distance between the two groups before setting off again more steeply up the well-defined ridge line. Using a set of well trampled tracks is sooo much easier than being the first one across knee deep soft snow and we all had had more than enough of that over the last two days – thanks fellas!
The weather plan was working so far, not too windy and occasionally the sun broke through. Across the glen the Mamores and Ben Nevis beyond were all well and truly shrouded in glowering heavy cloud. The views were spectacular, all the way along Loch Leven and across the sea to Ardgour.
Loch Leven Panorama by cliveg004, on Flickr
The Pap of Glen Coe was standing proud, looking nearly as good as its high namesake further west.
At the top of the steady climb the group ahead of us had encountered a steep minor crag. As the rest of the group had cleared the snow off it leaving just icy rocks behind, the last of them was having an uncomfortable time negotiating a climb with real fall potential. We weren’t going to follow them over that, and so went round on steep and increasingly hard snow.
Once we were above those rocks, the slope became even steeper and icier. At last, time for the crampons! The rest of the climb to the top of the slope was beautiful, really hard and taking a crampon spike to perfection. The top proved to be the secondary top of Stob Coire Sgoilte with sharp crags standing like teeth along the ridgeline.
Stob Coire Sgoilte by cliveg004, on Flickr
Rather than clamber along this knife edge, it was better to contour round on a ledge into a shallow gulley that led back to the ridgeline.
Up the gully by cliveg004, on Flickr
It was here that the wind finally picked up, and once again the spindrift was flying with stinging force. Some of the group we were following decided to bail out at this point, apparently unsettled by being sand-blasted.
I met others of the group on their way back down from the summit, and they were saying the view from the top was outstanding. Looking ahead, I could see the cloud was now just touching the top of the mountain and snow was being blown around reducing visibility still further – were they winding me up?
Pushing on I first found the red sandstone cairn which marks the true summit, and then spotted the white cairn beyond. On reaching the latter, the cloud was just high enough to clear the top of the mountain, and so revealed the wide open magnificent view across Blackwater reservoir surrounded by snow clad mountains. I’m afraid the picture just doesn’t do it justice.
The wind was once again picking up, and the ice was starting to fly – time to go.
The walk down was uneventful, but this gave us the time and opportunity to take in the terrific views, and savour a decent day that was so much better than the two that preceded it.
In places the views looked positively alpine!
What a place! by cliveg004, on Flickr
Just as we reached the van the heavens opened – oh well, nothing for it, time to retire to the pub!
This climb up a cracking mountain had rescued an otherwise difficult trip, but that’s life. Hopefully June will be better and there will be more opportunities to get the camera out.
But hey, its been a good day!
by scottishkennyg » Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:26 pm
by malky_c » Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:38 pm
Although I did almost every hill within a 10 mile radius of Ballachulish in my teens, I missed this one out for some reason. Finally got around to it one Friday evening after work, having driven down for a weekend in Onich. Definitely worth more attention - in fact I'd love to do it in a circular route with half of the Aonach Eagach.
by CharlesT » Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:57 pm
Looks a nice pointy hill. On the list for the future.
by Collaciotach » Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:53 pm
Shame about Garbh Bheinn where you in a yellow van? , I live nearby and spotted one at the parking area for Garbh Bheinn last week
by SAVAGEALICE » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:29 am
by clivegrif » Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:56 pm
Interesting idea, the Aonach Eagach does look good from this side and it does look as if it can be linked.malky_c wrote:Definitely worth more attention - in fact I'd love to do it in a circular route with half of the Aonach Eagach.
Hey I'm getting on a bit - It does the strong young men good to take the lead every now & then!CharlesT wrote:Like your tea-break tactics, very alpine
We had a white VW van, we parked by the two caravans on Thursday. But I'll be back, Garbh Bheinn is a good looking hill.Collaciotach wrote:Shame about Garbh Bheinn where you in a yellow van? ,
Thanks for reading.