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Clachlet Traverse Max

Clachlet Traverse Max


Postby Pondbug » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:23 am

Date walked: 13/09/2014

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 1707m

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Well, our attempt on the Clachlet Traverse was a success and joins the ranks of our many epic walks but there was an interesting postscript.

We were Moira, Raymond, Sandy, Colin and myself. Having left a couple of cars at the Glencoe Ski car park we all headed down to the start at Victoria Bridge. There is a gentle introduction as we walked along the track by Abhainn Shira and then turned up the footpath on the east bank of Allt Toaig. The cloud base was low but it gradually began to lift as we climbed and the path became steeper. It was still fairly cloudy on top but, by the time we were leaving Stob a Choire Odhar, Stob Ghabhar began to come into view and what a big complex lump it is. The ascent from the bealach became almost scrambley but once up on the ridge we enjoyed the lovely level walk across an arete to the final pull up to the summit. We reached Stob Ghabhar's summit close to the book time of 4 hours 10 mins but couldn't see how we were going to complete the next 12 km in 2.5 hours and we sure were proved right.

The route from Stob Ghabhar is over rough, rocky broken ground and it took a couple of hours just to get to Bealach Fuar-chaithaidh where we wondered how the hell we were going to climb the 400m up a precipice to Clach Leathad. Meanwhile this was a great spot - probably the most remote part of the route with long views to Rannoch Moor in the east and to Buachaille Etive Mor in the west. Getting close to the precipitous slopes in front of us, they did, as ever, become less steep but it was still a long hot slog before we gained the the summit of Clach Leathad (and it's not even a munro) - almost 8.5 hours gone! Now it was a pleasant stroll over to Creise, dumping our rucksacks at the end of the arete over to Meall a Bhuiridh on the way. I had done these two before on the occasion of Cathy's final munro but this time I got to see the view!

We were getting a bit tired now and although the climb across the arete isn't too hard we were certainly pretty knackered by the time we were on the final top - Meall a Bhuiridh. Which was like nothing to how knackering the 748m of descent was, down what the White Corries Ski Centre laughingly call a footpath. Getting to the cars at 8pm - 12 hours after setting out!!

I reckon the route is about 21km and I worked out about 1707m of ascent and 1605m of descent, so applying Naismith that's about 5 hours for the distance and 5.5 hours for the contours so 10.5 hours plus rests pretty much gives us the 12 hours, and certainly a long way over published time of 6.5 hours!

There was no time to risk a return to the Clachaig before it stopped serving food in fact we just made last food orders at the Kinghouse.

Anyway we all agreed it was a bloody good route (apart for the final mess of the ski area) and we were pretty chuffed that as a group of '60 somethings' we are still able to do it!

It took me a few weeks to get round to writing this walk into my Munro Log and I was somewhat surprised to discover that the route described in the SMC Munro Guide as the Clachet Traverse does not include Stob a Choire Odhair and in fact begins with a direct ascent of Stob Ghabhar by its south ridge. So that's when I decided we had done the Clachet Traverse Max - mind you adding this extra onto the guide books route should still have made it about a 9.5 hour journey - but then we like to take our time and enjoy the scenery!

As you can see from the photos it remained a bit hazy but it was a warm mostly windless day.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pondbug1/sets/72157649032035431/
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Last edited by Pondbug on Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Pondbug
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Re: Clachet Traverse Max

Postby Dave Hewitt » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:34 pm

Pondbug wrote:I reckon the route is about 21km and I worked out about 1707m of ascent and 1605m of descent, so applying Naismith that's about 5 hours for the distance and 5.5 hours for the contours so 10.5 hours plus rests pretty much gives us the 12 hours, and certainly a long way over published time of 6.5 hours!

Interesting outing - fine bit of country as you say. But in terms of the timings, you're working out Naismith wrong: the "contours" side of the equation doesn't include anything for descent, as the downhill stretches are included in the distance side of things.

So for the figures you give, 21km equates to about 4hr 30min (just over 13 miles at 3mph in old money), while 1700m of ascent is about 2hr 50 min (30 mins for each 300m or 1000ft). To get Naismith's time you just add those two components and ignore the descent, which gives 7hr 20min. The guidebook time of 6hr 30min you quote does seem to be a bit on the brisk side (although less so if it omits the first Munro), especially as Naismith's Rule itself is reasonably brisk and there's plenty of rough ground on the Blackmount), but it's not massively wide of the mark.

For comparison, the last time I went round that circuit, taking in the same four Munros and starting/finishing at the same places, was with a group of friends in mid-May 2012. This was in deteriorating weather - reasonable until Stob Ghabhar but a mix of windy, wet and snowy thereafter, with poor and quite arduous snow conditions underfoot on various of the higher slopes. Not everyone did the full circuit, and those who did then headed down from the last summit in separate ones and twos, but I was last to finish and took 8hr 10min all told, of which 1hr 40min was devoted to lounging around - so 6hr 30min was spent on the hoof in late-winter conditions.

You're right about the main col in the middle of the range - it's a great spot. Oddly, you can get a mobile phone signal here (Vodafone, at least), despite being quite hemmed in at the col and with no obvious lines of sight to nearby-ish civilisation. I needed to text a friend (and friend of this forum) who had been intending to come along the east ridge of Clach Leathad and meet us at the summit, and rather unexpectedly got a signal at the pass without any problem.
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Re: Clachet Traverse Max

Postby Ian Johnston » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:42 pm

Hi Pondbug,

What a super outing! the Blackmount is a really great bit of hill country. As Dave points out, there's no allowance in Naismith for descent, even when it's pretty vertiginous..... I've long since given up on book timings as a guide for my own walks, I always find some viewpoint of interesting rock/flower or whatever and spend time just being in the place rather than pushing on at pace. It's quite liberating!

On the subject of timings though, my long-time favourite guidebook (and still one of the very best in my opinion) is Irvine Butterfields "High Mountains" guide. The timings he gave are certainly not for the faint hearted, and neither are some of the routes! I was lucky enough to meet Irvine and in conversation about the book mentioned that the timings were challenging (I was a fit 30-something then). He gave me a wink and a knowing smile.......

Kind regards

Ian
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Re: Clachet Traverse Max

Postby Silverhill » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:10 pm

This is a great classic walk, good choice! :D It’s one of my favourite traverses and also took me 12 hours. In addition to what the others said, when you are walking with a group it’s always slower than when you are on your own.
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Re: Clachet Traverse Max

Postby JimboJim » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:40 pm

Maybe you are an "L" of a bit short of the Clachlet Max? :wink:

Jimmy
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Re: Clachlet Traverse Max

Postby Pondbug » Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:13 pm

Hi Folks,

thanks for the comments.

Yes Jimmy I seem to have dropped an L somewhere along the way - I've fixed that now to avoid making others as confused as me.

I realise Naismith doesn't add on for descents, we have got into the habit of adding on for very steep descents, which I think is OK but I accept shouldn't be applied to all descents.

Anyway we are very much of the don't rush it persuasion, taking lots of pauses for photographs, to observe wild life, take in the view, over and above resting of course.

cheers
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Re: Clachlet Traverse Max

Postby JimboJim » Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:55 pm

Sorry for being so pernickety, Pondbug, just seems to happen automatically. Not so accurate when it comes to my own reports.
I have only managed them in their pairs and they were great hikes, but one day, would be good to give it the max! Well done!

Jimmy.
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Re: Clachlet Traverse Max

Postby Pondbug » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:04 am

No worries JImmy - I'm not averse to a bit of pernickityness myself - :)

And, does anyone know why it's called the Clachlet Traverse?

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Re: Clachlet Traverse Max

Postby JimboJim » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:22 am

Pondbug wrote:No worries JImmy - I'm not averse to a bit of pernickityness myself - :)

And, does anyone know why it's called the Clachlet Traverse?

Dave


Aye, good question - where's Clachlet? Could be a new thread there - mountain conundrums/riddle's/mystery's?
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Re: Clachlet Traverse Max

Postby nigheandonn » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:26 pm

Clach Leathad (in the middle) used to be the Munro before they decided that Creise was instead.
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Re: Clachlet Traverse Max

Postby Pondbug » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:51 am

nigheandonn wrote:Clach Leathad (in the middle) used to be the Munro before they decided that Creise was instead.

Simples... when you know - thanks nigheandonn
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