Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away
by old danensian » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:24 am
Route description: Ben Challum, near Tyndrum
Munros included on this walk: Ben Challum
Date walked: 12/03/2014
Time taken: 5 hours
Distance: 11.5 km
Ascent: 1030mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Ben Challum doesn’t always get the best of press and I’d read all too frequently about the squelchy start to this one – and the middle too. So, it has always been something to be saved for winter, and the iciest possible conditions. Well, we’ve had a sort of winter but prolonged icy periods are a distant memory: last Wednesday was the nearest I was going to get this year.
After wending through the graveyards of Kirkton and crossing the railway bridge, I discovered that the overnight freeze had at least made things a little firmer. Chilly early morning conditions meant the legs got going simply to keep warm as the fence line was followed ever upwards.
In time, and about 400m of drudge-like ascent later, the knoll of Creag Loisgte was reached; here views of the way ahead opened up. It’s nothing to get excited about, just less steep and, in warmer times, more boggy. However, I knew from views I’d enjoyed when climbing some of the surrounding Munros that Ben Challum’s crowning glory is its final ridge. These lower slopes just have to be tolerated and the price in energy and effort expended should be deemed worth paying.
On this occasion, skirting the various patches of snow that led up to the summit slopes proved to be the best approach. The previous night may have been cold but the crust definitely didn’t justify crampons at this stage. However, as the angle eased, and poles and cairns drew me to the southern top, ground conditions changed. The strengthening icy wind had blasted any loose powdery snow from the surface and it was soon time to “gear up.”
Finally, the prospect ahead beckoned: this was what winter hill-walking was all about.
A short, sharp drop was followed by the sculpted product of shifting forces. Snow and wind had formed a series of alternating cornices that made for a superb airy traverse to the true north summit.
MWIS had predicted a 70% forecast for the day. I can only assume that there must be another West Highlands in a parallel universe somewhere that experienced worse weather: there wasn’t a cloud to be seen across the entire region.
The top wasn’t a place to linger for too long as the wind had increased significantly and the chill-factor was ramping itself up. However, I appreciated the company of two others on the top who did the photographic honours for what was a mini celebration of my 150. I know, the real next achievement should be 183 when there’s less than a hundred to go. But after a six month break I was grateful for anything to celebrate.
The straight up: straight down of Beinn Fhionnlaidh the day before was to be repeated, the only difference from the ascent being the glissades down the snow patches that had been avoided on the way up. As I suspected, the south facing slopes had also warmed up during the morning and what had been relatively firm earlier was now starting to show signs of the bog-fest this route can be at times.
The steep lower slopes had to be negotiated delicately as they were beginning to resemble a 45 degree water slide in places, and of course the inevitable happened. Thank goodness for the spare clothes in the car, although it took quite a while for the elderly French couple in the adjacent car in the lay-by to move on so I could complete the full change.
I knew I’d been going stir-crazy over the last few weeks as weather and circumstances conspired to keep me away, but now I’d rekindled that flame with two enjoyable days out.
Hopefully, my year has now begun.
by The Rodmiester » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:28 am
by malky_c » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:51 am
by weaselmaster » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:12 pm
Congratulations on getting to the 150 point too
by Graeme D » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:15 pm
Congratulations on 150! It's a nice hill this. Most of the bad press unmerited in my opinion.
by old danensian » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:35 pm
Graeme D wrote:You been performing bum slides again Nigel????
Yes Graeme - complete with accompanying industrial language - but with no audience this time.
Shame we won't be seeing you next week - for another "Sunday Corbett"
by Graeme D » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:45 pm
by Collaciotach » Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:55 am
by londonwalker » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:50 am