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Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away


Postby 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: 1030m

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Eating breakfast in a frost-bound tent at the head of an icy Glen Etive wasn’t the scheduled start for climbing Ben Challum. The closure of the A82 at Bridge of Orchy the evening before meant that my planned stay in comparative campsite luxury was replaced by a wild camp instead.

Challum-01.jpg
An icy start in Glen Etive - I know, it's nowhere near Ben Challum


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.

Challum-02.jpg
One of the Kirkton graveyards


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.

Challum-03.jpg
Frosty slopes above Kirkton


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.

Challum-04.jpg
The fence - and more fence - and more


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.”

Challum-05.jpg
Slopes ease as the south summit of Ben Challum is approached


Finally, the prospect ahead beckoned: this was what winter hill-walking was all about.

Challum-06.jpg
Final summit of Ben Challum from the southern top


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.

Challum-07.jpg
The final footsteps


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.

Challum-08.jpg
Ben Challum - and 150 up


Challum-09.jpg
South from Ben Challum - to Cruach Ardrain and An Caisteal in the distance


Challum-10.jpg
Walkers leave Ben Challum to the backdrop of Ben Lui


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.

Challum-11.jpg
Old graveyard at Kirkton


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.

Challum-12.jpg
Above Kirkton - benign but boggy - as the day's warmth progresses


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.
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old danensian
 
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby The Rodmiester » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:28 am

Some lovely summit photographs there Nigel, a great day for it! :D
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby malky_c » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:51 am

That was nice :) . Never approached from this side before (cycled up Glen Lochay instead), so I've missed out on the nice little arete between the south and main summit. I was expecting worse, as I was assuming your title referred to the winds at the weekend :wink:
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:12 pm

Nice to see some views - been up there twice in total clag and high winds both times, which did make the little ridge more exciting but lacked the visual rewards.
Congratulations on getting to the 150 point too :clap:
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby Graeme D » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:15 pm

You been performing bum slides again Nigel???? :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink:

Congratulations on 150! It's a nice hill this. Most of the bad press unmerited in my opinion. :roll:
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby old danensian » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:35 pm

Graeme D wrote:You been performing bum slides again Nigel???? :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink:

. :roll:

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"

OD
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old danensian
 
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby Graeme D » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:45 pm

Ah but you will be seeing me after all now Nigel. I'm back in! :D
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby Collaciotach » Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:55 am

Aye I thought Chaluim was a grand hill in the snow

Good stuff :clap:
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Re: Crackin' Challum - well let's not get carried away

Postby londonwalker » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:50 am

Well done on the 150. I was up there the same day as 2many Yorkies and saw nothing. Thanks for sharing the views
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