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Bagging the Mamores in a day

Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby The Kraken » Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:41 pm

Munros included on this walk: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Binnein Beag, Binnein Mòr, Mullach nan Coirean, Na Gruagaichean, Sgùrr a' Mhàim, Sgùrr Èilde Mòr, Stob Bàn (Mamores), Stob Coire a' Chàirn

Date walked: 11/09/2015

Time taken: 16 hours

Distance: 42 km

Ascent: 4000m

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***those who want to skip the transcript and instead watch a 5 min film, replete with amateur photography, videoing and overdramatic music, can do so by clicking on the below link***

Myself and Hill Bill, my munro bagging accomplice, are regular visitors to the WH website as we find it an excellent source of information to plunder ahead of our days out on the hills.  However, rather than constantly pillaging it, I thought it was about time I gave something back to the bagging community and, with that in mind, I now find myself typing up my first report.

We've both been keen walkers for a few years now but ever since a beast of a day in the Cairngorms in June 2014 (a 30 mile yomp taking in 7 summits) we've always had our eye on the big challenges.  The Mamores range appeared to fit that bill nicely and, having read a few reports on here (thanks!), we knew it could be done.  Furthermore, having spent most of 2015 adopting the scattergun approach and picking up singles and doubles, the Mamores would provide a welcome boost to our overall tally as we try to complete all the summits in the next few years (before we hit our mid-thirties anyway!)

A combination of work commitments, where we live, and our thirst for post-walk beers dictates that Saturdays are really the only days we can go walking. The result is that we cram all the driving and walking into one big day, getting up at what I like to call 'Pat Mustard o'clock’ (or 'very early in the morning' for those who don’t watch Father Ted) to ensure we're back in good time for a fish supper and a trip to the pub.  For the Mamores though, we thought a change of strategy was necessary and so after leaving work on Thursday afternoon we drove down to Kinlochleven and the MacDonold hotel which would serve as base camp, and a very fine one at that.  

We set off on Friday at 5am.  At around 5:45am (somewhere on the way up to the path that leads to Loch Eilde), the walk took a nasty little turn as I stumbled in the dark and fell into what can only be described as an unholy boggy mess.  Thankfully the gators managed to absorb most of the slop and so I carried on, reaching Coire an Lochain and then the southern slopes of Sgurr Eilde Mor which, after a leisurely amble, would have us on the summit in around 2hrs 30mins after departure. No views at the top but any prospect of immediately pressing on was dismissed until the customary photo of a misty cairn was taken.

Looking back to Kinlochleven

Misty cairn slot

Binnein Beag was the next target.   It was a good track down into the glen and back up which meant progress was swift as we headed towards the loch at 726m.  A short breather before the steep climb up to the summit, which was soon marked by tucking into the first pork pie of the day at around 8:45am.  It was at this point that I heard Hill Bill utter the first of many biblical references that I would hear that day, although his declaration of 'Jesus Christ' referred more to how he felt physically rather than anything more pious. I'm not sure what he had done but the general diagnosis was simply that his legs "just weren't working".  I asked if he could carry on and his “we can do this” response was more than enough for me. I knew from experience that it would take more than achy limbs before he called it quits and anyway, I assured him that now the two awkward outliers were out of the way, the domino effect would kick in and we'd polish off the main ridge comfortably.

Binnein Beag

That cavalier attitude was soon swiftly tempered.  Although there is no path marked between Binnean Beag and Binnean Mor, the route choice (when seen from the summit of Binnean Beag) seemed obvious: head for the lochans, up to the NW shoulder and then south to the summit.  Soon after passing the lochans however, I had what Hill Bill has since called my 'Charge of the Light Brigade' moment where I decided it would make more sense to take the more direct route up the gully to the east of the shoulder.  It was a costly decision on two fronts: firstly, the underground conditions were loose and slippery and the two steps forward / one step back scenario was eating into valuable time; secondly, and more gravely, whilst pausing for breath a sudden gust of wind resulted in Hill Bill losing his 'Come On You Reds' Aberdeen beanie which brought with it all sorts of curse words and bad omens about what that now meant to our team's prospects against Celtic the next day (we needn't have worried!)  With the wardrobe malfunction still leaving a bitter taste, we decided to be sensible and cut back onto the shoulder, eventually reaching the summit of Binnean Mor - relieved but behind our (admittedly loose) schedule and with another reference to the Lord duly noted.  

Towards Binnein Mor from summit of Binnein Beag

Relieved to reach the summit

Thankfully, things eased off from here and we scuttled our way across the gentle ridge to Na Gruagaichean to reach summit number 4.  At this point, we knew the maps could be packed away for the day as the weather had cleared to reveal in full glory what lay ahead of us - a magnificent sight.  

Na Gruagaichean.jpg
Na Gruagaichean

Views opening up.jpg
Views clearing to reveal route ahead

We walked towards Stob Choire a' Chairn, taking the path that skirts around its NE base en route to An Gearnach which would be our half way point.  We took the opportunity to dump the bags at the foot of An Garbanach.  Although we were only lightly armoured for the day, shedding the rucksacks was a welcome respite and made it a little easier to scramble along the rocky, exposed but altogether thoroughly enjoyable ridge to the summit of An Gearnach. Superb 360 degree views at the top, with Ben Nevis and the rest of the hills in this range looking exceptional.  After a quick bite to eat, we retraced our steps, collected the bags and made for the short pull up to Stob Choire a' Chairn - summit number 6 and a very welcome psychological boost.  

Ben Nevis.jpg
Ben Nevis from summit of An Gearnach

Panoramic Views.jpg
Panoramic views

Am Bodach was up next and soon after reaching the summit (we touched both cairns just to make sure) we were joined by the first walkers we had seen that day.  They thought we were mad but before we scarpered, they asked if we had enough supplies and so we took them up on their kind offer of a nectarine (I can't remember your names but if you're reading this - many thanks) We marched on from Am Bodach and over the top of Sgurr an Iubhair (sadly stripped of its Munro status) before dropping down to the Devil's Ridge.  Despite its name (and Muriel Gray's efforts to make it sound eerie in a Munro Show clip I found on YouTube), the ridge is not too bad, although I accept that may be a different matter when wet, windy and clagged in. While a little exposed it is not technical (I found the scramble along An Gearnach more tricky) and the so-called 'Bad Step' can easily be avoided by taking the path that drops a little to the east.  The summit of Sgurr a' Mhaim was an important milestone – it was my 100th Munro and I was soon joined at the summit by Hill Bill who extended his congratulations.  We ate our nectarines.

Am Bodach.jpg
Am Bodach

Sgurr an Iubhair, Devil's Ridge & Sgurr a' Mhaim.jpg
Sgurr an Iubhair, Devil's Ridge and Sgurr a' Mhaim

Sgurr a' Mhaim.jpg
Sgurr a' Mhaim

It was now 5pm and, while fading light would not be an issue as long as we were on the West Highland Way, we agreed that we should aim to be coming off the last summit at 7pm.  The next Munro, Stob Ban, looked both inviting and intimidating.  We scampered down the zigzag path to the loch, where I refilled the water bladder (throwing in a couple of chlorine tablets), scoffed some jelly babies and made for the ascent.  We made good time, reaching the summit around 55 mins after coming off Sgurr a' Mhaim.  This time, the congratulatory roles were reversed - this was Hill Bill's 100th Munro and he marked the occasion by impressively devouring a pork pie and muttering several expletives in one fluid motion.

Stob Ban.jpg
Stob Ban

The last part of the ridge was the walk to Mullach nan Coirean. This is straightforward enough – and I’m sure pleasant at other times - but it was still a slog and a case of keeping the head down and pressing on.  We eventually reached the large summit cairn, surprised to slink in ahead of our 7pm slot and so with a little time on our side we took a breather to savour the views and take some pictures. A great feeling - and now all that was left was to get off the ridge and back to Kinlochleven.

Looking back to Stob Ban and Sgurr a' Mhaim

Back along MnC.jpg
Looking back from near the summit of Mullach nan Coirean

Very content.jpg

It was not an enjoyable descent by any stretch of the imagination. As we headed south down the slopes alongside Allt a' Choire Charaich our quad muscles felt like they were on fire.  Our expectation (more hope I guess) that upon reaching flat ground our pain would ease proved futile and we began what would be a long 4/5 mile trudge back to the hotel. Only the occasional glance to the brooding heights above to our left offered any form of respite. We finally reached the MacDonald hotel just after 9pm – shattered, relieved and ready for some much needed refuelling.

All in all, we had taken around 16 hours to complete the Mamores range, an epic day out and safe to say our toughest walk to date. After a well-earned rest on the Saturday, on Sunday we were back on the bagging trail, heading west to Ballachulish to take out the Beinn a’ Bheithir duo (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=58113). This rounded off a terrific long weekend before we made the journey back to the north east.

Now it's time to find the next challenge.
Last edited by The Kraken on Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:06 am

Wow, good effort! That's a loooooooong day...
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby Ranger » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:59 am

Epic test of endurance! :clap: Took me 6 visits across 8 years to claim all the Mamores Munros :lol:
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby prog99 » Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:56 pm

Good stuff, been meaning to do this at some point.
Other longish suggestions that I've done (if slightly shorter) are
Glenshee munros on both sides of the ski centre.
Drumochter 6 which is better than it sounds
Both sets of 4000rs over separate days
And the fisherfield 6
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby Silverhill » Sat Nov 14, 2015 10:19 pm

Wow, you’ve set the bar high for your next challenge! The Mullardoch round in a day?
Well done, what an achievement! 8)
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby AnnieMacD » Sat Nov 14, 2015 11:09 pm

That's a great first report but an even greater achievement. I imagine the last few miles at the end of the day must have been the worst! Well done!
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby davetherave » Sun Nov 15, 2015 1:45 am

Very well done to the both of you.
Done a very similar route about 6 weeks back but under much better weather conditions. ☺

Makes for a tough day does that ridge.
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby simon-b » Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:27 pm

Very well done, getting all 10 in a day. A great range of mountains.
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby dav2930 » Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:19 am

That's a seriously big walk, more in terms of cumulative ascent than distance (though that's big enough!). 2000 - 3000 metres in a day is plenty for me; I think I'd find 4000 too much. I'm not surprised your quad muscles were 'on fire' towards the end - but the pain fades away while the achievement remains always! A fine range of hills to have traversed. :clap: :clap:
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby dogplodder » Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:07 pm

I've had several forays into the Mamores and still haven't done all these. Couldn't go as fast as you and even if I could I like to enjoy the character of each hill which is better done at a more sedate pace. But a great feat of strangth that you pulled it off! :clap:
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby Mountainlove » Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:40 pm

:clap: :clap: Brilliant effort! Those looong days are the ones you won't forget. So whats next Mullardoch 12 or the North Glen Shield Ridge 12 ? The latest one isn't that well known, but great fun . Here is my report from a few years ago...http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=34078
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby Hill Bill » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:12 pm

Thanks for all the positive replies people, it was a epic day out and will live long in the memory.

The Kraken and I are craving the 'bigger hit' now and there are whispers 'The Mullardoch 12' will be the showcase event of 2016. Watch this space!!

PS - If anyone finds my 'COYR' wooly hat drop us a message!!
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby The Kraken » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:52 pm

Folks - thanks for your kind words and suggestions as to potential other challenges. Very much appreciated. I've responded to a few specific comments below.

prog99 wrote:Good stuff, been meaning to do this at some point.
Other longish suggestions that I've done (if slightly shorter) are
Glenshee munros on both sides of the ski centre.
Drumochter 6 which is better than it sounds
Both sets of 4000rs over separate days
And the fisherfield 6

Thanks prog99 - all good suggestions. We've yet to do the Fisherfield so we'll keep that in mind. The 4,000s are ones we've regularly spoken about too - no doubt fuelled after the big day in the Cairngorms!

Silverhill wrote:Wow, you’ve set the bar high for your next challenge! The Mullardoch round in a day?
Well done, what an achievement! 8)

Thanks Silverhill. The Mullardoch dirty dozen has been mentioned in passing. I'll have to research it more but it does look an absolute epic and one that would raise the bar a notch or two...

Mountainlove wrote::clap: :clap: Brilliant effort! Those looong days are the ones you won't forget. So whats next Mullardoch 12 or the North Glen Shield Ridge 12 ? The latest one isn't that well known, but great fun . Here is my report from a few years ago...<span class="skimlinks-unlinked">http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=34078</span>

Thanks Mountainlove! Cracking report and certainly a route I'd not previously thought of doing all in one go. Decisions, decisions!...
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:52 pm

Grand day out, and glad you had good weather for it. I was tossing up between this ridge route (albeit from the Glen Nevis side) and the Ben Nevis/Aonochs/Grey Corries a couple of months ago, but in the end went for the latter (WR published in these pages); and on the day the Mamores looked absolutely brilliant from that North ridge (WR published in these pages).

As for challenges, apart from the North Glen Shiel Ridge that ML mentions, and which I've had in mind for some while; and the Mullardoch Round (that's really quite a long day, and there have been a few WRs published on it) you might want to consider the 9 Munros from Creise to Ben Starav. It's a really brilliant ridge walk, that I did in June (WR also published).

Keep truckin'
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Re: Bagging the Mamores in a day

Postby ayrshiretiger » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:14 pm

Just came across this. Did the same in 2014 but taking 18 hours so well done on your 16 hours! Planning a repeat this May, weather permitting...we had that long walk back to Kinlochleven in the rain and don't fancy that again!
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