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Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:09 am

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chlèibh, Beinn Dubhchraig, Ben Lui, Ben Oss

Date walked: 27/02/2016

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 1916m

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The weather runes had predicted that Saturday would have the best weather, so we decided unanimously on an early breakfast so as to make the most of it: the early fine spell the previous day on the Ben Cruachan round had really whetted our appetites for the snow covered hills. At 5.45 there had obviously been quite a hard frost in the night, and the lightening sky was beautifully clear as we set off shortly afterwards.

We had debated the best way to approach the round - either from the North East via the track from Tyndrum, or from the A82 on the North side, through the infamous boggy forest, of which I'd read much in various WH reports. Fortunately one of us had read somewhere that the North East approach was to be preferred because of the magnificant views it affords of Ben Lui. And thank goodness we took this recommendation! This is unquestionably the best approach.

Image20160227_072213. The first ethereal view of Ben Lui as we walk along the track through the wood.

Image20160227_073030. First real view of Lui. Wow! Is this the Himalaya I see before me?? We were just so glad that we took this route in - simply breathtaking.

Image20160227_073611. Moonset. We must have taken over a hundred shots of this iconic view. There are just no words for it... as we walked up the track there were long long stunned silences, punctuated only by regular camera clicks.

Image20160227_080841. And now the run is rising.

Image20160227_082634. Wonderful, from every angle and every distance. We start thinking about our route now. We know that the slopes in the corrie are probably not as steep as they seem from here, but some of us are seriously neurotic about avalanches.


Moreover, though Chris is an experienced alpine winter climber, Dr Frank's and my experience is limited. So we decide to follow the Allt Coire Ghaothaich up to the plateau at the entry to Coire Gaothach, and then strike up to the right to the ridge, and follow this to the summit. We are only briefly tempted by the thought of the Central Buttress, a wonderful picture of which we had been looking at last night :D .

Image20160227_093131. The walk up to the coire plateau was simply stunning (this looking North East towards Ben Challum). It's getting hot now, so we stop to strip off some layers, don the crampons, and practice a bit of self-arrest.

Image]RIMG0268. We could almost be on a glacier in the Alps... unbelievable!

Image20160227_093156. The snow conditions are really excellent: a hard crust for the most part, that reduces a lot of the usual snow walking effort.

ImageRIMG0266. Quite a long pull up to the top of Stob Garbh - but in these conditions we hardly notice...


Image20160227_103553. Topped the first part of the ridge (Stob Garbh) - can it get any better than this??? Ahead the ridge route we will follow. Magic - just magic.

Image20160227_103559. No signs of avalanche in the coire; but we're still agreed that it's better to be safe than sorry....

Image20160227_104353. In the far distance, centre picture, is Ben Nevis.

Image20160227_110028. Looking North East along the Connonish glen towards Ben Challum.


Image20160227_110105. Nearing the summit.


Image20160227_111140. Looking West North West towards the Cruachan group.

Image20160227_111302. Approaching the summit, with a quite impressive cornice in the foreground! Dr Frank now probably getting quite fed up with my neurotic admonitions to "stay back from the edge!"



Image20160227_112017. Looking back N West from the summit - more impressive cornices.

ImageRIMG0285. Got to get to the very very very top.....

ImageLooking West towards the Cruachan group, which we did yesterday.

Image20160227-113114. And a bit further round, Beinn a' Chleibh. Viewed from here, it looks like a plateau, but in fact there's a 150m climb from the bealach to the summit. The speedy descent from Ben Lui is a joy though!

Image20160227_113141. Looking South towards, I suppose, the Arrochar Alps.

Image20160227_122002. The Cruachan group again, this time from Beinn a' Chleibh.

Image20160227_122033. And looking back from Beinn a' Cheibh towards the back of Ben Lui. Impressive, yes, but nothing like as spectacular as the North East face.

Image20160227_130801. Many strange animal tracks as we contour around from the bealach between BaC and BL to the bealach between BL and Ben Oss. Anyone know what it might be? The tracks indicate an animal approximately rat-sized.


ImageIMG_3380. My kingdom for an Oss.... :-(

Image20160227_140016. Looking back toward BL shortly after the start of the ascent to Ben Oss. Distinctly less dramatic from this side.

Image20160227_140022. It's a goodly climb to the summit of Ben Oss - about 350m; but with this weather and these views, no-one is minded to complain!


Image20160227_143016. Zoomed....

Image20160227_144344. Looking back towards the BL-BO bealach from the ascent to Ben Oss.

Image20160227_144415. Not too far to the summit now...

Image20160227_150717. Ben Oss summit: Chris, Dr Frank, and another walker who'd ascended from the opposite direction. (My trusty Eurohike sac stealing the foreground!). Astonishingly on such a perfect day, the first of only four people we meet all day !!?

Image20160227_151636. Looking towards Beinn Dubhcraig from Ben Oss - Beinn Odhair and Ben Challum in the background.

Image20160227_151641. Descending Ben Oss on the way down to Beinn Dubhcraig.



Image20160227_154637. The pretty gentle undulating route to the summit of Beinn Dubhcraig. The weather is still absolutely perfect. Each of us is saying the same thing: this must be one of our best hill days ever.

However, the undulations would present quite a challenge for map reading and compass in heavy clag. We certainly needed to apply quite some care in route finding on the Ben Cruachan Horseshoe the previous day, for similar reasons. How easy it is to trust - wrongly - one's instincts, and not one's compass!!!!

Image20160227_155954. Looking back at Ben Oss in the middle distance to the left, and Ben Lui in the background on the right, as we approach the summit of Beinn Dubhcraig.

Image20160227_162151. On the summit of Beinn Dubhcraig, with the glory that is the Highlands in winter, near and far before us....

Image20160227_162206. What could be more perfect??

Image20160227_165608. After a pause in the late afternoon sun to soak up the sunshine and the vista, we head down the North flank of the hill, before turning North West towards Tyndrum.

Image20160227_165612. Ben Challum and the other hills above Tyndrum catch the evening sun as we descend. The snow extends surprisingly low down the hill; we take off the crampons at perhaps 500m elevation.

Image20160227_171816. The path down through the forest is pretty boggy in places, and would be a pretty horrible way to start the day if one were to do the round clockwise starting at Beinn Dubhcraig.

There's a footbridge shown on the map near the confluence of the Allt Gleann Auchreoch and the River Fillan that we plan to cross, followed by a quick sneaky sprint over the railway bridge. Unfortunately the "footbridge" turns out to be two rusty RSJ beams, about a metre apart. After some discussion we decide on different ways of crossing, Chris and Dr Frank via stones in the Allt, me crab-wise across the "footbridge", arms on one beam, legs on the other. Both methods work, and after a short stroll on the West Highland Way, we're back in Tyndrum for a visit to a building of cultural, architectural and historical interest where it just so happens that they purvey refreshing drinks.

We were so overpowered by the experience of Ben Lui that, on the following morning, instead of a short walk around Loch Lomond before heading south, we instead opted to walk up the track towards Connonish again, to experience that amazing visual hit of the Ben Lui North East face once more before we leave.

Image20160228_092425. Looking along the West Highland Way towards Ben More and Stob Binnein.

Image20160228_092536. Beinn Dubhcraig in the morning light. This is what we saw in the final stretch back to Tyndrum, but it was too dark to get a decent pic.

Image20160228_093234. Magnificent Ben Lui in the distance.

Image20160228_101150. As you can see, we none of us could stop feasting our eyes and clicking our cameras...
Last edited by Alteknacker on Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:08 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby Jaxter » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:20 am

Stunning pictures!!! :clap: Lui is a beauty. Despite having been on that summit 4 tines, I've still never had the famef views, so good to know they do exist :lol:

Totally agree - best hill days ever :D
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby ancancha » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:28 am

A fantastic day I'm sure you will cherish, the photos are tunning, and agree with the sentiment, Lui is a handsome mountain, especially wearing white on a blue sky day 8)
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby Jock McJock » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:06 am

Your pics are stunning, what a day! And people ask why we do this eh?? Thanks for sharing :thumbup:
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby weaselmaster » Wed Mar 02, 2016 8:20 am

Great conditions for it, Alteknacker - I see you haven;t lost your taste for short winter walks :wink:
Good to see what that route looks like in winter - unfortunately my attempts to do it/part of it in January didn't have quite the same outcome.
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby Petr Dakota » Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:04 am

As you said: "Perfect winter walking" :clap: and I'm glad you had the perfect winter conditions 8) :D
Good effort all 4 in one route in winter, :clap: but not surprising me as it's your standard :lol:
Great views, great photos, great weather and great conditions :clap: 8) :clap: 8) really glad you got one of the beautiful days for it, especially when coming here from so far away...
As I always says good planning and preparation is more than half of the trip's success :wink: Well done mate ! :clap: :clap: :clap:
That weekend was really great both days saturday and sunday, clear day, great visibility, all the hills incl. summits clear all day...unfortunatelly I was working all weekend, :( :crazy: :? but atleast I was driving my lorry on sunday in this area, enjoying all the beauty incl. the one short view of Ben Lui from the distance - of Tyndrum road :D 8)

1. Ben Lui & Ben Oss in moonlight.jpg

A lot of people on the hills on sunday...
All the best and many more trips like this ! 8) :clap: :D
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby jupe1407 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:29 am

I was looking forward to reading this one Alteknacker. Absolutely superb. I'm definitely not jealous at all :lol: :clap:
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby gman » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:11 pm

Looks great, Ben Lui has an alpine feel from that direction. Heard at the weekend that the ridge on the left of the corrie is a nice grade I climb, your photos have put me in the mood. I'll be cheating and bringing a bike, though. :lol:
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby rockhopper » Wed Mar 02, 2016 2:08 pm

Superb :clap: a great way to spend such a cracking day. Would agree with the approach via Cononish as it gives the developing view of Ben Lui as you head along the track - cheers :)
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby scottishkennyg » Wed Mar 02, 2016 2:18 pm

A1 AK. Cheers Kenny
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby jmarkb » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:32 pm

Fantastic shots of a great day out! :D

I think the animal tracks are a bird - ptarmigan is the most likely suspect given the location!
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby litljortindan » Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:02 pm

I do like the snowy blue sky pictures but I like the south facing ones more. What a day.
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby roscoT » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:20 pm

Simply stunning, well done :clap:

Would love to do this round, just maybe not in the snow quite yet!
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:06 am

Jaxter wrote:Stunning pictures!!! :clap: Lui is a beauty. Despite having been on that summit 4 tines, I've still never had the famef views, so good to know they do exist :lol:

Totally agree - best hill days ever :D

Thanks. I had little to do with the pictures, apart from pressing the button: the hills and the weather did all the work! Real pity that you haven't managed to get up there in decent weather. Sometimes persistence pays off though: I only managed to catch the Wasdale Horseshoe in good weather on my third attempt!

I guess you must have had an similarly brilliant day on Binnein Mor. Unfortunately I can't see any of your pictures (ditto with TeaAndPies' report) - I've put a query in to Paul, because it's clear from the comments that others can.
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Re: Perfect winter walking - Ben Lui Round

Postby Collaciotach » Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:08 am

Superb :clap:
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