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Morning Mist to Blazing Sunshine on Ben Cruachan 4
by garyoppolis » Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:00 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chochuill, Beinn Eunaich, Ben Cruachan, Stob Daimh
Date walked: 17/10/2015
Time taken: 8.999 hours
Distance: 26 km
Ascent: 2000m11 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I've been eyeing this one up for a while and only decided on it at the last minute when I saw how good the weather on the west coast was supposed to be for Saturday.
I ended up going clockwise; wanted to get the road walking out of the way at the beginning and the met office suggested the possibility of a bit of cloud later in the day and I definitely wanted to get the view from the summit of Cruachan.
There's a lot to be said for going the other way though; as I was coming off Eunaich I was a bit gutted I wasn't seeing the sunset over Mull and the sea. Not only that, the slope of Sron an Isean would probably make an easier ascent than descent.
Sunrise near Castle Farm
The turn off to the dam is signposted St Conan's Road and is a pretty gentle grade all the way up. As you climb, the views of Loch Awe open up.
There were a lot of linesmen working who must have got out of bed a while before I did.
Before long the dam is reached and you get your first view of the summit of Ben Cruachan.
I saw a few folk heading off up from the western end of the dam as though to climb Meall Cuanail; the path up to Cruachan however starts off from the end of the land rover track, following a burn up to the bealach. This is the point where you get your first view out to the west. The last pull up the ridge alternates between a path and picking your way over some large boulders but there's nothing too complicated about it.
The views in all directions from the summit are pretty astounding. Everything to the north and east is mountainous whereas the ground to the south falls away to low hills and Loch Awe snaking its way into the distance.
View North, and the obligatory zoomed view of the Ben
The summit was busy: a couple who overtook me on the way up to the bealach shot off along the ridge shortly after I arrived, their poles flashing like heliographs as they Nordic-styled their way off into the distance. A girl in bright pink sunglasses arrived next, not-quite-but-almost dragging her friend behind her, and then - I'll admit I was a bit surprised - proceeded to point out pretty much every summit within sight. Not long after came a fellow in *shock horror* a pair of jeans. Half my water gone - 2 litres isn't enough in that kind of heat - I set off along the ridge.
The slabs, which you come to not long after leaving the summit, are of reasonably "grippy" rock (my ignorance of geology is something I keep meaning to remedy but never seem to get round to). They're no problem at all in the dry and probably wouldn't prove too difficult in the wet. Wouldn't fancy it with ice on the ground though.
The top of Stob Daimh provides the first view up what the OS calls Strath of Orchy - which sounds like an improbable name to me.
looking back at Cruachan
I stopped for my sandwich here, feeling a little shaky and wondering if I should call it a day or keep on as planned. There were two women on the other side of the cairn who were doing the same. One offered the other a sip of her 20 year old Aberlour and I kicked myself for having left my hip flask at home; an 18 year old Laphroaig would have been a fair trade but as all I had to offer was Kendal Mint Cake I thought better of imposing myself. We were joined by an white haired chap in t-shirt and Ron Hills - a look I've seen a lot of and wonder if, in time, it'll replace the wolly jumper and bobble hat as the uniform of the Wise Old Man of the Mountains.
The girl with the pink sunglasses and her friend turned up just as the salt from my sandwich was hitting my system and my internal harmony was slowly being restored - don't neglect your salt levels, especially on sunny days. After a quick chat it turned out she's at least as accomplished a mountaineer as I am (book, cover, and all that) and thought it was worth going for since I was already up there - the climb from Castles Farm apparently being a steep and unrelenting slog which I'd have to tackle if I left them for another day.
At this point it's worth making some mention of the descent from Sron an Isean to the bealach. It's been remarked on by others but it bears repeating: it's steep and slippery.
The steepness isn't all that bad in itself; I've done steeper and not fretted.
The slipperiness isn't too bad either; I've done slipperier and had no reason to worry.
Together though, they're absolute murder. A steep slope isn't a problem provided you can be sure of your footing before transferring your weight to the downhill foot. This is not the case for most of the way. Picking your way down takes a lot of care to make sure your next foothold doesn't skite off downhill underneath you.
I reached the bealach and, second wind very much in effect, started up the slope to Beinn a'Chochuill. I'm very pleased I kept going.
worth the effort
It's steep, but compared to what you've just come down the footing is a sheer joy. The summit is rounded and grassy and offers excellent views in all directions.
The summit ridge is a pleasant chance to stretch the legs out and the last ascent of the day isn't too taxing, the well defined path making the going fairly easy.
looking back to the bealach
The descent to Castle Farm is comfortable enough on the ridge itself but is very steep where the path turns off to drop onto the farm track, making for a taxing end to the day. From there, it's a simple stroll back to the parking.
I managed it with a minute to spare before the nine hour mark, which I was pretty chuffed with.
I'll finish with these photos taken during the final descent.
by prog99 » Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:45 pm
garyoppolis wrote:I saw a few folk heading off up from the western end of the dam as though to climb Meall Cuanail; the path up to
That was us, we were off doing the various tops.
garyoppolis wrote:The slabs, which you come to not long after leaving the summit, are of reasonably "grippy" rock (my ignorance of
Think I saw you hunting for a parking space first thing?
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by garyoppolis » Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:51 pm
Could hardly believe the weather, easily the best day I've had all year.
I had a suspicion it was granite but I honestly don't know enough to exclude all the other possibilities.
by andygunn23 » Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:42 pm
Cheers for all the advice!!
by Alteknacker » Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:58 pm
I still have the Eastern-most 2 to do, and this gives plenty of reason to do them and the Cruachan 2 again.
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