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Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby leftfootleashed » Tue Nov 04, 2014 2:56 pm

Route description: Bidean nam Bian

Munros included on this walk: Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire Sgreamhach

Date walked: 20/10/2014

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 12.7 km

Ascent: 1459m

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Despite being Scottish to all intents and purposes, my mother is (was) yet to climb a Munro. Obviously it would be rude to reveal her age, but it starts with a 6 and this isn’t the first time. Hence, my Christmas present to her last year was a promise to take her up her first Munro, but it was late October before we took the long drive north. Arriving in Glen Coe late on Monday, in the dark and rain and wind, is a disorientating experience, even for someone who’s visited before. I was concentrating so hard on the road that I completely missed the turn-off for the Clachaig and the hostels, and was at Glencoe village before I knew it.

Keeping a nervous eye on the mountain weather forecast over the weekend had me doubting any chance of making a safe ascent of our planned peak, Bidean nam Bian (in at the deep end!). But Sunday’s forecast offered some hope: it would be windy on top, but not too windy; rainy, but not without let-up; cloudy, but with a chance of it lifting at some point. And a positively balmy 3-5 degrees at 900m.

Monday morning’s weather laid its cards on the table, the rain lashing against the hostel windows as we ate as much porridge as we could handle and watched the outline of Aonach Eagach slowly take shape in the lightening dawn.

Ready for the off

In the layby on the A82 we waterproofed up before either of us could give any real thought to backing out, and headed across the lively river, up Coire nan Lochan and into the cloud. We established a good steady pace, stopping regularly to take a breather and watch the cloud swirl through the ever more distant valley. A herd of deer eyed us with caution and disappeared over a small ridge.

Looking back into misty Glen Coe

Rain was falling fairly constantly, though not heavily. When we reached the turning-off point for the recommended route up onto the ridge, on looking back we found the cloud had lifted enough to allow the sun to gently beam down Glen Coe, giving sharp definition to the hills opposite. On the right track and cheered by the sight of blue sky, we made for the ridge.

A rare sunny moment

It may have made us over-confident, however, as we lost the path, found it again, and lost it entirely, taking a circuitous route up. Gaining the ridge coincided with finding the path again, and also with a break in the rain, and hence a quick sandwich break for us.

The northern buttresses rising into the cloud

Nearing the top of Coire nan Lochan

Sheltered in the lee of the ridge, we layered up to face the gusts we knew would be coming over the top and headed on. The route quickly starts to get scrambly and is steep in places. Although I couldn’t see more than 30 feet, I knew the drop off the buttresses on our left was sheer and long, and so was erring on the side of a right-ward course. Too right-ward it turned out. Without a clear path into the rocky section I realised I had led us off course and we were below the ridge to the north where the lack of an obvious path was making progress unnecessarily difficult. We struck straight up to the south and sure enough regained the ridge, which presented us with a steep rocky scramble ahead. If my mum was worried at this point she didn’t show it, and was happy to press on. I confess I was getting nervous – two navigational errors, albeit small, the weather now dismal, another steep scramble and I was unsure how near we were to the summit of Stob Coire nan Lochan.

A few minutes later we reached a cairn marking the summit. I explained to my mum that although we were at 1115m, we weren’t on a Munro, something I maybe should have mentioned before! Relieved to have made the summit, but not wanting to hang about, we set Bidean in our sights – though not literally, for reasons that will probably be obvious by now.

Not a Munro: Stob Coire nan Lochan

In contrast to the previous peak, we almost missed the summit of our target Munro on a path which bypasses it a few feet below. Noticing the cairn though, we used the shelter of this leeward path to prepare ourselves: cameras and hip flasks were dug out of rucksacks.

On the summit of Bidean nam Bian

We made a quick toast on the summit, and compared notes. Although enthusiastic, neither of us are particularly knowledgeable when it comes to whisky. I suggested her Glenlivet was more peaty than my Glenmorangie. Over the wind, she agreed that my Glenmorangie was more peaty. We concluded that both were whisky, and that we probably shouldn’t have too much before we made the slight left down into the bealach above the lost valley.

Flushed with the exhilaration of ‘bagging’ the peak – or maybe it was the whisky – we skipped lightly over two or three minor humps along the ridge before identifying the entrance to the steep red chute that would lead us down into the Lost Valley. It’s not often one is within a few hundred yards of a Munro, and it seemed remiss not to pay Stob Coire Sgreamhach a visit, even if some of those yards were vertical. By now we were getting the hang of it: find the cairn, photo, nip, descend.

Dropping into the valley, we took advantage of a cloud break to have one of our own, eating sausage rolls on a flat rock looking down from the top of the valley towards the Glen Coe road. Although we could see it (briefly), we knew it would be another couple of hours before we were back down there but that the feeling of accomplishment would bear us there lightly.

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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby dogplodder » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:43 pm

Well done both of you and big congratulations to your mum. :D That was a tough first Munro - especially in those conditions! :clap:
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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby Sgurr » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:49 pm

Good for your Mum. Has she done mountains in other countries? She doesn't seem put out by the experience at all. Only 281 to go, and she looks as if she has plenty left in her.
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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby razzah » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:23 pm

Wow - well done! :clap: I was over in Glencoe about that time - took one look at the 3 sisters and headed east where the weather was finer :roll: So impressed your mum tackled this as her first munro and in those conditions too!
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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby Silverhill » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:28 pm

Well done to your mum, and well done you for taking her! :D
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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:30 pm

This may have been your Mum's first munro, but I guess she's a pretty hardened hill walker to have taken this in her stride :roll: :D , and to have thought of bringing the hip flask in the first place :lol: :lol:

My congratulations to both of you :clap: :clap: but the way I read this you did both Bidean nam Biam and Stob Coire Sgreamhach so shouldn't that be 2 munros ticked?
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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby leftfootleashed » Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:43 pm

Thank you all! I was pretty impressed her too. She's done a fair amount of walking in this country but nothing like this.

It was touch and go with the conditions, but I think we made a sensible decision in going. Much worse (e.g. the day after with the tail end of the hurricane coming in) and I would have called it off.

Yes, we did bag two Munros - Bidean was first, but only by an hour or so!
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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby The Rodmiester » Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:38 am

Excellent report there leftfootleashed , and well done under those conditions! :clap: :clap: Glad both you and Mum had a great day, pity no views to speak of :( Just goes to show age is not a barrier, but weight certainly is. Pleased to see your Mum obviously leads a very active and healthy life judging by your photographs. Maybe a few more whiskies at the Clachaig afterwards? :D
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Re: Bidean nam Bian: Mum's First Munro

Postby Johnny Corbett » Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:16 pm

Yeah good stuff and well done to your mum, especially with the conditions not being perfect. Bideans not the easiest either. :clap:
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