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Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers


Postby AlexFrood » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:19 pm

Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Ben Lawers, Meall a'Choire Leith, Meall Corranaich, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh

Date walked: 03/01/2015

Time taken: 17 hours

Distance: 16 km

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The Alarm set for 4:30am went off waking me from my sleep in the back of my van, and gave my mate a quick kick waking from his sleep on the vans double bed. I got the table down from the wall, set gas heater on it to warm the vans interior for a bit, got the jetboil out and poured two tins of all their breakfast into it. A quick check of my phone reminded me that the Ben Lawers car park is the only Mountain car park I can thick of that has full signal on EE and 3G Internet, sent my other mate A quick facebook message who was in the van park next to me to wake up. From there sat back and waited for our breakfast to cook and had no idea how long on a day we were in for.

Our plan was to do all the Ben Lawers Munro’s apart from Beinn Ghlas as we had crawled to the summit of that the day before but that another story. Having two vans gave us the option of a noncircular route, which is especially helpful for trying to do then Ben Lawers Ridge. After a bit of shuffling around and faffing we had my friends van at the finish line after Meall Greigh and headed back up the mountain pass in my van to get to the start point for the first munro of Meall a’ Choire Léith. However the last 4km of the road to the start point is 500m+ above sea level an now covered in snow. lucky for me I had my new toys of Snowsocks for the van’s tyres. We stopped, spent 2 minutes putting them on and surprisingly they worked really well, still was a nervous moment driving a rather heavy van on a winding snowy mountain pass. We reached our starting location no problem.

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But there time we started on the hill it was about 6:30am and still dark, The plan was to reach the first summit for sunrise. So we set off into the darkness following the vague paths and snow covered heather. We made are way toward Meall a’ Choire Léith via Coire Gorm and coming onto the ridge at the Bealach, from there we headed north to the first summit of the day. We made the summit of Meall a’ Choire Léith just as the sky started to turn golden behind the distant Beinn Galas and Ben Lawers.

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From there we headed south back down the track and then overward toward number two, Meall Corranaich.

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The 3km walk will stick with me for a long time, Ive never seen a sunrise that good before and healthy covering of snow on every mountain you can see in every direction, it was just one of those days.

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In my group had one of my friends I've done a lot of walking with in the passed and we have never had it that good before, my other was new to winter walking and well what a special way to start.

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We marched on into the rise sun we finally made the second summit. From there we had a quick summit stop and a pork pie. We decided we would put the walking poles away and get the Crampons and Ice axes out for the next bit of the decent towards Beinn Ghlas was a little steep.

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After a fun wee while of picking are ways down the mountain side we came onto the Bealach between Meall Corranaich and Beinn Ghlas. normally you would head up Beinn Ghlas from here but because we had been up there the day before we decided to skip it and just contour around to the next Bealach for Ben Lawers.

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After a wee bit of a cold walk in the shadow of Beinn Galas we emerged into the glorious and welcome sunlight but there its was a rather easy walk up the scoured slopes of Ben Lawers where we saw the first people of the day. The walk would've been easier but throughout the entire day that summit alone was the one which had the high winds battering us on the way up. We had a quick summit stop, few chats to people on the summit and warning about the descent from the next summit of An Stuc.

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Rather worryingly by this time we looked over at An Stuc from the summit of Ben Lawers and noticed the shadows creeping up it. We realised how long we had been going and how far we still had to go.

As we have been warned about the descent we decided it would be best to make haste towards the next summit so we can at least do the descent in daylight. We thundered down from Ben Lawers taking the top of Creag an Fhitich on the way and raced up the side of An Stuc racing the slowly creeping sun.

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We made the summit of An Stuc decided to skip the normal summit through break ahead on the other side. However when you're walking along the top of An Stuc it just seems to suddenly and abruptly end in a sheer drop. That's because it does, so we sat down and got our axes and crampons on. I elected to go first and slowly edged towards the seemingly vertical drop, luckily the snow was rather consolidated and further and further I creeped forwardI saw that in fact it wasn't a vertical drop, just a really damn Steep one. Although it looked rather intimidating it actually wasn't too bad, pretty like down climbing a broken up grade 1. I took point and had my experienced friend taking the rear with less experienced taking the middle. Although the down climb appears that it's extremely long it actually wasn’t, from the angle we were looking straight into the bottom Lochan nan Cat which was 450meters below the summit of An Stuc, in fact our route later on curved on the Beach between An Stac and Meall Garbh which was only 150m below the summit.

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Next we headed up the summit of Meall Garbh in the dying light on the day making the summit for Last light. By that time it was time to get a head torches out. Realising we only had one more summit to go, after studying the map realising we still had a third of the actual distance left to travel.


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After a few hours of walking in head torch light we finally made the last summit of the rather flat Meall Greigh. Once again awarded with great views of a different type this kind. It was clear skies and a full moon, we could look back and see the Ben Lawers Ridge glowing in white moon light on its white snow.

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From there was only a 4Km walk down to the finish line, We finally made it to the finish line and my friends van at 10pm. We had the silly idea that the adventures for the day were over, they weren't or at least mine wen’t.

We took the van back up to the main Ben Lawers carpark we had awoke many hours before, however there was the small issue of returning to my van. That 4km snow covered mountain pass have now magically transformed into 4Km of black ice. My friend in his van adopted the true Top Gear vehicle leadership style of your on your own mate, and he turned in for the night. So i headed up the ice cover track with my friend who kit was in my van, unfortunately he felt rather ill about 500 meter in and turned back to sleep in the other van.

I Then walked lonesome ice road finally arriving at my van at midnight. Deciding there's no way I'm moving it anywhere tonight in these road conditions I was benighted, well after a nice long lie in to about 11 o'clock in the morning and the road had thawed, I decided to make my move and get out there, within a few minutes of leaving I was met by some very nice police in a 4x4 coming up the road who were rather interested how I even got up there .

Very long and interesting day, My friends headed home and I decided a quick stroll on another Munro.

I don't usually write trip reports this long or detailed but it was a great day I hope you've enjoyed the photography and little story, apologies for the spelling and grammatical errors.

Cheers
-Alex Frood
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AlexFrood
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby litljortindan » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:55 pm

Great report and pictures. Snowsocks rule. Might even have been ok on the ice?
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby Collaciotach » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:12 pm

Grand day out and photos :clap: :clap: :clap:

Good tale :D
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby sonic » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:18 pm

Brilliant walk report mate, that was bad timing on my part lol. We were just leaving the house at the point you started your walk, was a lovely day. :)
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:01 am

Great report, and smashing pix, especially the ones in the dark. :clap: :clap: :clap: You had some wonderful weather.
Write more, write more.......!!!

I still have this one to do but it's in the plan for 2015.... With a bike to get to the start in the morning....
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby canofirnbru » Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:49 am

That looked like a great day/night out :-D
Quality photos too!
Cheers
Stevie.
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby hopper68 » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:22 am

Good report and some crackin pics. My mate and myself done from Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh and descended An Stuc in November there was snow on the summits... Thanks for sharing
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:42 am

Brilliant photos - great trip really enjoyed reading that :clap: :clap:
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby AlexFrood » Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:18 pm

Cheers for the comments guys. I've got a few more reports to write, I am trying to finish my WML this season so I'm living in my van going where the snow is and photographing each day. So there is a lot more to come. If you see a bright yellow van in a car park this winter feel free to say hi.
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby Silverhill » Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:51 pm

Brilliant, what a day, what a walk! :D 8) I did the traverse in summer and thought that was epic.... :lol:
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby yellowbelly » Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:54 pm

Great report and pics. About time we had some real adventure "nutters" on here! Keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to your upcoming outings.
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:54 pm

Blue skies and snow covered ridges are perfect combination for photos and you've got some good ones! Admire your guts as the day went on and you ended up ice-bound in the van. 8)
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Re: Cracking but Long day/night on Ben Lawers

Postby AlexFrood » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:52 pm

The ice-bound van wasn't too bad, I had alot of room with only me in it for once, as well as a gas fire to keep it toasty and got to watch the sunrise down the glen in the morning. however there was not much food left in it.
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