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Walls, Screes, Aretes and 2 'last munros' in a week

Walls, Screes, Aretes and 2 'last munros' in a week


Postby benno » Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:48 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg, Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor), Stob na Broige (Buachaille Etive Mor)

Date walked: 23/09/2013

Time taken: 15 hours

Distance: 32 km

Ascent: 2750m

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No, OK, I haven't just compleated twice in the space of a week - infact I've still got just over 60 munros to do. But for years the Buachaille has been my earmarked finale, and for the week following climbing it, Carn Mor Dearg became my planned top-out. So having 'accidentally' gone and climbed it too leaves me in a tricky situation. I'm open to suggestions for an appropriate final munro now.

Regardless, 2 great walks in the space of a week - seemed a good thing to share in a walk report.

1: Buachaille Etive Mor, via Agag's Groove on Rannoch Wall, 1000m ascent, 12km, 9h, 23/8/14

Joe being up from down south for the week, I grew a pair and we got out and did some rock climbing, not for the very first time in my life. A few days before heading up the route described below, we climbed on Craig a Barns near Dunkeld, including my first Severe graded route. Planning to go out on Tuesday, the weather looking good in the West, Joe suggested the Buachaille - given the opportunity to rock climb in such a place, I had to discard my ambition of saving this fantastic hill for my compleation. After a fairly sleepless (in my case) night, we set off for an early start in Glencoe.

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We headed past the SMC hut and turned left to follow the path climbing beneath the crags of the Buachaille. The views to Rannoch Moor started to open out, and, as we started scrambling up towards the foot of Curved Ridge, the angle of the cliffs above led to some neck straining. Rannoch wall slowly came into view, and the meaning of what I had let myself in for started becoming clear. A quote of Muriel Gray on Aonach Eagach came to mind: "Hill of the Brown Underpants".

We scrambled up the bottom end of curved ridge, before cutting right to meet the bottom of Rannoch Wall. After discussion and consultation with the book, we agreed that we were in the right spot, and started racking up.

Neck straining stuff
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Our route on the central pillar, a dark crack left of centre. Curved ridge up the left
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Rannoch Moor
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On the bottom of Curved Ridge
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Looking up Rannoch Wall
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FInding the route
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Racking up
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Agag's Groove is a 4 pitch VDiff climbing route - not being an experienced climber and never having done multipitch routes this was to be something of a challenge for me. The most exposed climbing I've done is on the Inn Pinn, but the route we did there is technically easier than this, and doesn't involve belaying from narrow ledges above the abyss. Anyway, it was time to head off, so Joe started up the route, fixing in gear, and soon disappeared above me, while I belayed and watched the coil of rope at my feet slowly disappear. After a few minutes, the agreed rope tug signals were received, I prepared myself, and set off.

About to go up there (note ropes on the right)
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Almost immediately I felt the exposure, but the climbing was brilliant on great holds, and I didn't find myself in difficulty at any point. In hindsight, the hardest bit of the route was the logistics of belay points, hanging my rucksack on gear etc. On the third belay point, a lady took pictures of us and waved to me from curved ridge - surprisingly close, but I daren't take my hands off the rope to wave back and leave Joe without protection. (N.B. If you're reading this I'd love your pictures!) At 1pm we arrived on Crowberry Ridge, the route finished, feeling amazing. Sat down for a bit and ate something while the leg shakes subsided. Brilliant.

Somewhere on the route
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Belaying from belay point 3
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At the top
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Before long we scrambled up to the foot of Crowberry tower (I didn't fancy it, enough exposure for 1 day), and around the bottom of it to the top of Curved Ridge. I popped down the top bit of it to try and get some pictures of our route with perspective - impossible to get a real sense, but I got a few pics. This setting has got to be one of the finest mountain environments in the country: the scale, bulk, angle, perspective, everything, it's awe inspiring.

We headed up around the top of Crowberry tower, and up through the final screes and crags to the summit of Stob Dearg. On firm ground finally.

Some attempted perspective pics, our route on that wall somewhere
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Crowberry gap
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Summit at last
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As neither of us had done the other munro, we headed out along the ridge to get it, the views in all directions wonderful, Loch Etive looking particularly fine. After reaching the top, we backtracked a bit then headed down into the Lairig Gartain on what is a brilliant built path, arriving at the road just over 9h after we left. A day I'm not going to forget in a hurry.

Loch Etive
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Oh hello
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Wow, we went up THERE?!
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Following this day, I had the dilemma of choosing a new hill for my compleation - the obvious choice became Carn Mor Dearg, given it's combination of setting, interest, and the accessibility of the Ben for any post compleation shenanigans. However, given another good weather forecast, my Mum's desire to go out, and the idenity of the only munro within sensible driving distance which neither of us had climbed, Carn Mor Dearg soon became the object of our attention - compleation aspirations here out of the window. Oh well.

2. Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis from Glen Nevis, 1750m ascent, 20km, 8h, 31/8/14

Setting off from Perth at 6, we arrived a couple of miles South of Dalwhinnie, about an hour from Fort William, to find the road had just been closed because of a fatal accident. The policeman told me it would be atleast 3-4 hours. Not the most promising start to the day, but one can't complain, someone has just lost their life. 3 hours later, after a lovely tour of the central highlands via Aberfeldy and Crianlarich, we arrived at the Glen Nevis visitor centre carpark, booted up, and headed up the tourist path towards Ben Nevis.

Buachaille looks a little different today
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Arriving at the lochan after an hour, Mum commenting on how much better the path is compared with the last time she was up here (more on that later), we turned onto the path around the foot of the massif and headed up towards the CIC hut, crossing the floor of the glen before reaching the hut, and started up the relentlessly steep and long slopes leading to Carn Dearg Meadhonach and eventually up the ridge to Carn Mor Dearg. Having had awesome views of Ben Nevis from a brilliant winter day on the Aonachs years ago, I had an idea of what to expect, but the scale and complexity of that face is just remarkable. Probably the main reason it took us 4h to reach Carn Mor Dearg from the car was the amount of time stationary gazing up in awe into the epic cathedral that Ben Nevis creates around you.

Lovely Glen Nevis
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Carn Mor Dearg coming into view
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Ben Nevis
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After a few minutes, we decided to carry on around the arete to Ben Nevis, the summit towering over us by the time we joined the main bulk of the hill. The arete was great, a lovely mixture of mild exposure (well, most things are going to seem mild now after the Buachaille...), easy scrambling, and awesome setting. From here I got a good perspective of a route I did on the Mamores a couple of months back (8 summits, east to west from Glen Nevis), and suddenly it became clear why I had been so knackered that day!

Arete ahead
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Mum on the Arete
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Up to the Ben
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Weaving up through the boulders and arriving on the summit, it seems so surreal arriving there, with all of the weird structures, people, etc, after a day seeing noone and being in such a dramatic and seemingly wild spot. Today was a day of really odd perspectives - from it's foot, Carn Mor Dearg looked much closer than it actually was, whereas from the end of the arete, the summit of Ben Nevis looked a lot further away than it was. I'm glad it was this way around.

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CMD peeking through?
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In 1979, on a claggy and snowy day in August, my Dad proposed to my Mum on the summit of Ben Nevis. (She said yes btw). A couple of years back when my Dad had been back to the Ben for the first time since then, my Mum got a phonecall from the top asking her the same question (even though they've been married over 30 years), so obviously today, Mum being there for the first time since '79, she had to do the same. Shame he didn't answer the phone on the first try, but when she did get through atleast he said yes (again).

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We headed down the tourist path, surprised to be passing people still heading up and less than halfway to the summit as the rain started and it began to get dark.

So, I need a new hill to compleat on, any ideas?


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Last edited by benno on Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Walls, Screes, Aretes and 2 'last munros' in a week

Postby marguerite » Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:36 pm

It was a great day, Ben. Thanks for looking after your ageing mum!
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Re: Walls, Screes, Aretes and 2 'last munros' in a week

Postby AnnieMacD » Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:36 pm

Two fabulous outings - the climb looks pretty scary. Great that you get on the hills with your Mum - hope you carry the sandwiches!!!!

May I suggest An Teallach for your finale? I haven't done it yet but know it's a popular pair to compleat on and it's a fabulous hill. (You'll get more responses to your question in the 'General Discussion' thread but be prepared for many different suggestions!)
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Re: Walls, Screes, Aretes and 2 'last munros' in a week

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:48 pm

Good way up!

I'd second Annie and recommend An Teallach as a great hill to compleat on... Sgurr nan Gillean would be an alternative from your list to do yet.

Enjoy whatever it turns out to be

Al
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Re: Walls, Screes, Aretes and 2 'last munros' in a week

Postby benno » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:24 pm

Thanks guys, An Teallach looks like an excellent contender for my outage. I just hope I won't end up 'accidentally' climbing that next weekend!
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