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Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean - evening up the tan!

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 9:25 pm
by bobble_hat_kenny
On my last outing to Beinns Eunaich and a'Chochuill at the end of April, I managed to get unilateral sunburn down my right side, by walking eastwards along a ridge for the best part of the day :lol: ... so naturally my Cunning Plan was to have a look at another ridge walk, but heading westwards this time, so as to even up the tan :wink: .
Tom was also free on the Saturday 3rd, and he fancied having a look at the Mamores, which neither of us had ventured into before, but of which we had both heard only good reports. So we set off fairly early and headed up to the car park beside St Paul's church in Kinlochleven, to tackle Binnein Mor, the highest (though not the hardest) Mamore, and its sibling peak, Na Gruagaichean. It was a lovely morning, and fortunately we made rapid initial progress on the maze of paths up through the hardwood forestry. This bit could easily be confusing, but we made sure that we followed the instructions in the website's Route Summary to the letter, and thankfully it got us there OK :D . It is a bit of a climb initially up through the trees, but the reward is a grand view down over Kinlochleven, with the Pap of Glencoe looking surprisingly majestic behind it. (I will however be good, and refrain from any cheap Pap gags...)

From here, the well-maintained approach path runs across the moor for a while, to eventually cross a vehicle track, the one that leads up to Mamore Lodge. The path continues just slightly to the left on the other side of the vehicle track, with the fairly steep nose of Sgor Eilde Beag (confusingly enough a Top of Binnein Mor, rather than a Top of Sgurr Eilde Mor as might be expected :? ) coming into view ahead.
Loch Eilde Mor also came into view at this point, looking rather scenic.

At this point we reached a cairned path junction, where we had the choice of turning left for the more direct route over Sgor Eilde Beag, or continuing on the main path to the right to approach the connecting ridge between Sgor Eilde Beag and Binnein Mor's South Top from the east (as described on the website's Route Summary). We opted for the Direct Route over Sgor Eilde Beag, and it proved to be a fairly stiff climb.

There was still a surprising amount of snow lying quite far down the slopes, as you can see in the photo above, and although there is (in theory) an excellent path all the way up to Sgor Eilde Beag, this disappeared under a snowfield for a fairly extended section near the top, giving us a genuine scramble up steep grassy slopes to the right of the snow, to eventually pick up the path again higher up.
At least, while I peched and panted my way up as usual, there was a spectacular view of Sgurr Eilde Mor for distraction, with its wee pet lochan curled up lovingly at its feet :) .

I've heard Sgurr Eilde Mor and Binnein Beag described unflatteringly as "scree piles" or even as "pit bings" :shock: , but while they do lack the defined ridges of the more westerly Mamores, we thought that they were fine-looking hills, with Sgurr Eilde Mor being particularly beautiful when viewed from here.
It was a relief (to me, anyway) to finally get to Sgor Eilde Beag's small summit cairn. Tom had stopped to take in the view:

...And no wonder!

From here, the ongoing route curving round gradually to the right over Binnein Mor's South Top, and on up its graceful south ridge to the Munro summit, was obvious. Binnein Mor thankfully didn't look that much higher, although there was a rather worrying amount of snow about :? ...

Thankfully it didn't take us much longer to reach the South Top, where we got a grand view of that elegant South Ridge.

I have to confess that I was feeling fairly knackered by now, but the ridge walk was an absolute delight, and soon started to revive me. We met a couple in shorts, clearly hardier than ourselves, who had come up onto the South Top from the east as on the website Route Summary. We passed the time of day, and we were somewhat consoled to hear that they had encountered fairly significant Snow Issues on that route too.

Predictably Tom was at the summit well before I was, and he took a wee photo of me plodding up through the snow on the last section:

It wasn't long before I'd also made it to Binnein Mor's rocky wee summit too, however, where I found Tom enjoying his lunch with a fantastic view over the much lower Munro of Binnein Beig immediately behind him, and the Grey Corries further in the background.

I had no appetite myself - without getting into "TMI" territory, I was coming down with what subsequently proved to be a Tummy Bug, probably exacerbated by all that exercise :( ... nae sandwiches for me then!
All the same, I was glad to have a breather and drink in the views. The weather was holding not bad, and the summit views were impressive. Mountains everywhere :D ! Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg were predictably stealing the show, with the CMD Arete clearly visible from here:

To the south-east, Sgurr Eilde Mor was still looking spectacular:

And to the west, the main spine of the Mamores range (incorporating the famous Ring of Steall) was also looking fabulous:

It was fun trekking back down through the snow to Binnein Mor's South Top, and on down to the bealach with Na Gruagaichean. I was relieved to find that the re-ascent necessary to bag the second Munro of the day was actually fairly minimal. Although the last section is a bit rocky, there is an excellent path all the way, and it never really got "scrambly" at all.
The snow stayed well clear, too, and it wasn't long before we were at Na Gruagaichean's summit cairn.

More grand views!
We came down the south ridge on a good path to reach the cairned minor top of Leachd na h'Aire, with its fine view down Loch Leven, and then cut down the pathless but straightforward grassy slopes to its southwest to reach the vehicle track again, as per the website Route Summary.
A truly grand day's walking :D !

Re: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean - evening up the tan!

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 12:23 am
by mr_ash_37
Kenny yet again fantastic! Grt views and pics. I will use your report when doing these cheeeers

Re: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean - evening up the tan!

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 2:27 pm
by AnnieMacD
Enjoyed that and the views. Hope you are feeling better now.

Re: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean - evening up the tan!

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 4:52 pm
by tarnold
Spectacular pictures! I'm planning to do this route in a couple of weeks. Hope for decent (or decentish) weather.


Re: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean - evening up the tan!

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 10:31 am
by Collaciotach
Great range the Mam Mor ..good report :clap:

Re: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean - evening up the tan!

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 9:24 pm
by Gordie12
Hoping to do these two this summer so good to read this report, looked like a brilliant day.