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Streap Club

Streap Club

Postby Jason » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:01 am

Corbetts included on this walk: Streap

Date walked: 11/03/2014

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1200m

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A surprise good forecast (a huge surprise this winter) for the early part of the week beginning 10th March got me planning a 'microadventure' (seems to be an 'in' term at the moment) to make full use of it. Given settled conditions, I'd always 'go west'. There are plenty of opportunities to get out in the parts of the Highlands nearer to my home in Fife when time is limited or the west is being deluged, but, for me, west is most definitely best when conditions are good.

I've had my eye of the ridge the sweeps straight down, N-NE from Streap's main summit for a while now: it looks like an aesthetic mountaineering route, given the right conditions. 'Right conditions' is a big 'if', of course. The ridge looks steep enough to be scary in summer or soft snow conditions. I reasoned that the wonderful security of crampons on hard snow would elevate it to a worthwhile proposition.

Streap from the NE (the summit ridge is immediately left of the pass)
I looked online to find out about previous ascents of the ridge. Entering 'Streap north ridge' into Google got me one relevant hit, then several for 'strip clubs in Northridge, LA' and similar (thank you, Google, for guessing my misspelling of 'strip'). As an aside, Google (and probably many other search engines) will exclude words if you put a '-' prefix on them, so a search for 'streap -strip' will give a more morally uplifting result. I've since looked up Streap, which means 'the act of climbing or scaling', therefore you could say you were off to a Streap Club when meeting your climbing buddies for some 'action'.

I wanted to fit in a little something on 10th March, so I hatched a cunning plan to walk into A'Chuil bothy the night before and have a go at Carn Mor (a Corbett) under a slightly-more-than-half moon. I got into the bothy, had some food, and set out to walk to Carn Mor's summit. The weather was pretty clear, but there wasn't much snow on the ridge, so I just wandered partway, and then turned round. I got a tremendous view of the Corryhully Horseshoe, which was well covered in snow and glowed under the moon. I was also pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to go up and down the sides of the ridge in the dark; the only awkward bit was in the vicinity of the bothy.

I slept pretty well, having gone for a 'luxury' pack-full, including a proper (albeit thin) pillow! Less than three miles along an easy track makes even a very heavy pack pretty bearable, so I didn't see the point in skimping. I find the one thing that will stop me sleeping well when staying out (assuming I'm warm, etc) is insufficient head-support.

I set off the next morning early-ish, got to the end of the forest, near Strathan Lodge, and dutifully followed the Glen Dessarry Estate signs, which divert walkers out of the forest and through the hellish bog in the valley bottom to get to Gleann a'Chaorainn or Glen Pean. It seems that they don't want to maintain stiles and routes through the forest that would have been used previously, and they put up signs implying it's for walkers' safety to keep them away from the forestry work. Well, that bog would be pretty unsafe for tired walkers coming off the hill after dark, so shame on the estate that they can't be more creative in their duty of care to the public.

I 'cached' my overnight gear next to the bridge over the River Pean and set off up Gleann a'Chaorainn. There is a spectacular waterfall and chasm near the bottom of this glen (I wasn't in a good position to get a decent picture). The way up proved to be rough and boggy, in keeping with the 'Rough Bounds of Knoydart'. The outflow of Streap's north corrie is craggy, so I traversed up the side of the glen to get on top of the crags.

Getting nearer! (the ridge is the RH skyline)
The lower part of the corrie was a tedious mish-mash of soft, sugary snow and rock. I kept trending west to get onto the ridge crest as soon as I could, whilst avoiding the lower part, which looked too steep and rocky. I got onto fairly well consolidated snow as I gained height, and so stopped to don crampons on the final rocky 'island' in the snow before gaining the crest.

The view down Gleann a'Chaorainn from Streap's north corrie
A return to softer snow got me worried, but I was on névé again before I gained the crest. The angle of the crest was steep enough to feel like proper winter climbing, but not that strenuous to ascend (certainly not when compared to sinking deep into soft snow as I had just been doing). I climbed over a small band of rock, which was just basic scrambling, then carried on up the perfect ramp to the summit.

The summit, haloed by the sun
I passed through a little soft snow as I levelled out near the top, and was then surprised to see a man on the summit: Corbetts don't tend to be thronged on Tuesdays in March. I yelled, "hello," then saw his companion a few metres further down. Of course, they were also surprised, and we quickly fell into conversation about the unlikelihood of seeing others in such a time and place, how good the weather was and how beautiful our surroundings were. I never thought to ask their names, but ascertained that they live near Bristol, and one works for the Care Quality Commission and one co-owns a brewery (!).

Me (re-) ascending the final slope to the summit (kindly taken by one of my new companions)
We set off for Streap Comhlaidh, around the edge of the corrie, and marvelled at the cornices, for which I believe Streap is well known.

Cornices on the rim of Streap's north corrie
It had been very mild a few days previously, and there was ample evidence in the corrie of widespread cornice collapse.

Dirty streaks showing cornice collapse into the corrie
My companions continued with me, up and over Streap Comhlaidh, and northwards, away from their base at Corryhully Bothy. They planned to descend into Gleann a'Chaorainn as soon as they could and get back over the pass; not an easy option given the rough craggy slopes they would have to descend. As we dropped down Streap Comhlaidh's north ridge, we got a good look at the profile of the ridge I climbed.

Streap's north ridge in profile
We had some amusement negotiating the alternating soft and hard snow as we descended: I took my crampons off before them, and we suffered and benefitted in different ways.

My 'companions' on the lower snows of Streap Comhlaidh's N ridge

Streap Comhlaidh and Streap playing peek-a-boo from behind a lump on SC's N ridge
A short while after the snows, I bade them farewell and thanked them for their company, and carried on a further 2 km along the ridge before making a descending traverse of the glen side to make the most efficient way down whilst keeping out of the bogs in the glen floor for as long as possible. The last trudge through the valley floor bogs was patience testing, given how tired I was, although I marvelled at the waterfall once more.

A last look at Streap in the fading light
Once I'd picked up my 'cache' from the bridge, I ignored the 'diversion' and crossed up into the forest and found the road, my quick and easy way back to the Strathan Lodge and my car. Given my lack of prior knowledge of ascents of Streap from the North, I felt a sense of achievement at having pulled off a truly adventurous winter walk.

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Last edited by Jason on Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:21 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Streap Club

Postby kev_russ » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:53 pm

Braw pics :thumbup:
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Re: Streap Club

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:53 am

Great, smashing pics!
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