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4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!


Postby Jaxter » Mon May 09, 2016 10:10 pm

Route description: Ben Lui and Beinn a'Chleibh

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

Date walked: 07/05/2016

Time taken: 10.5 hours

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 1800m

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Some of you may remember that back in October of last year, a certain supposedly magnificent mountain – Ben Lui herself, and I had something of a falling out. So when I was sitting with Hugh and Geoff at the meet in Gairloch and they were discussing tackling Ben Lui at the start of May, I believe my words were “you’ll never get me up there again” :lol: However, as the time drew closer, I changed my tune somewhat; if the weather looked really good I might be tempted to sample the famed views from the top of the “finest mountain in the Southern Highlands”.

Deciding that the weather was indeed looking fabulous, I prepared for the trip by climbing the five Orchy hills just two days before… :lol: so when I set off for Dalrigh I was wondering if I was making a terrible error of judgement in my fitness…

I met Hugo (borderhugh), Geoff (Tinman) and new recruit Chris (knuckledugger) at the car park, and also Michael who was sensibly setting off by bike to do our route in reverse in order to hit his 141 atop Lui. We promised to slash his tyres as we walked past the farm and he rode off looking slightly concerned :lol:

We were off
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We set off a few minutes later; the banter was flowing freely and the walk to Cononish farm seemed to go much more quickly than we had imagined. At the farm, we noted the bridge we were to come back over and I pointed out the mine workings that would work as a guide for the descent as the farm would not be visible from above. But that was all a very long way ahead.

The team assembles at Cononish farm
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At the top of the valley Lui was looking majestic, the top was clear, there was a decent coating of snow and the ridge looking particularly awesome. Rubbing my hands together with glee we continued along the track, climbing up and then dropping back down to the Allt an Rund which was crossed without incident.

Starting the climb
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From here the path into the Coire Gaothach was clear to the right of the burn. Initially grassy and muddy but becoming rockier as we climbed higher, the path climbed steeply up and the views backwards were wonderful. The summit of Lui, towering above us, was still beautifully clear but I was trying hard not to get my hopes up. That being said, I had already had better views from Lui than my previous experiences.

The burn had some lovely water features
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A quick stop to admire the views
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Hugh has been practising his posing
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Showing him how it's done
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Another attempt :lol:
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The banter was still going, and with Geoff struggling to get up a big step the temptation to make a joke about him getting his leg over was too hard to resist :lol: The four of us continued climbing; I kept an eye out for the path to the ridge as it was easy to miss – and indeed we nearly did miss it, despite there being a cairn and an arrow made of rocks. Stopping at the burn for a quick drink and refuel, we collected ourselves before the climb to the ridge. I made the others feel much better about what lay ahead by telling them it was a pretty brutal climb, but fortunately Hugh restored order by distributing jelly babies.

We set off and, as predicted, it was not easy. There were also some tricky parts where the path was covered in slippery wet snow and had to be avoided, meaning we had to clamber up some steep grass and rocky sections (we realised the snow should be avoided after Hugh, acting as guinea pig, got a little stuck – rather than helping, we opted to find a better route… :lol: )

Climbing higher amongst the impressive crags
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As we approached the ridge the wind, which had been steadily increasing as we climbed higher, let rip. I apologised to Chris who was standing behind me. It was also becoming a lot more blowy, and we pushed on for the ridge before stopping to quickly add several more items of clothing – I kept an eye out for Donald Duck but perhaps he was still in hibernation (those of you confused by Donald Duck need to look at the 1:25000 OS map!)

Come on Hugh!
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Looking up the ridge, it looked like we were definitely going to need the hardware out but given the sloppiness of the snow, crampons would be no use here. Despite the cold temperatures, we stopped for a quick refuel and to enjoy the magnificent views. I encouraged the boys to take in the views in the other direction as I had some business to attend to behind a sheltered rock before we attempted the ridge ahead.

Ahead...
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Ben Oss
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That out the way, we set off along the ridge, axes in hand and, in certain cases, hearts in mouths. We were accompanied initially by a debate about which direction to “do your business” in – into the wind or away from it? Did technique differ depending on gender? The question was never really answered as we were soon faced with a navigation decision.

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:shock: :shock:
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Chris still smiling
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Looking ahead, up the ridge, I thought I remembered the path sticking to the crags, but there were what looked like footprints going diagonally across the snow, and we decided to follow these as a slip near the edge would most certainly end very badly :shock:

Next we needed a guinea pig – Geoff and Chris put Hugh and I in front, so it was between us to fight it out. Always up for a challenge, I took the lead and went for it, kicking steps for the 3 dwarves behind me. The snow was fairly wet and easy enough to kick steps in, so there was no real difficulty other than the burning feeling in my legs, possibly a result of the 2600m of ascent two days previously….

Chris in action
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What a view
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Me kicking steps
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Looking back down
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We reached the next section of the ridge and took a few minutes breather. Seeing some serious scrambling ahead, I opted for the more waterproof of my 4 pairs of gloves (better to be over-prepared!). Making sure the rest of the team were ok – they were convincing with their chorus of “yes” – we looked ahead. I could see a set of prints along the top of a big bank of snow, but it looked very close to the massive drop, and I had a feeling it might be the top of a cornice so opted to take the option to the side – at least a slip there wouldn’t be fatal, just embarrassing!

The snow here was very wet and full of holes – there were rocks sticking out in places and it was difficult work getting across to the next section of ascent as every other step ended up thigh-deep.

Ahead to some scrambles
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Eventually better snow was reached and I looked ahead for a quick route plan. There were some very awkward moments – scrambling up snow, over and round rocks and then more snow, but eventually there was a small number of flat rocks where I paused to make sure the others were doing ok (and for a breather – Lui was making it difficult for us today!)

The team still smiling
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The team in action
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With the team reassembled, I continued up the final ascent – ice axe definitely required here – and pulled myself over the top, letting out a giant woop! It was a real feeling of success, and the sense of satisfaction from having beaten the elements was so wonderful – as were the views that were now able to be enjoyed.

Geoff and Hugh coming over the top
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As the others climbed over the top, there was definitely a collective sigh of relief to be heard, but I think we were all marvelling at the awesomeness of the mountain. Seeing the cairn, there was also a certain amount of excitement until I pointed out the next cairn around 50m further along the ridge! We made for it and I was finally able to enjoy the famous views from the top – I had beaten Lui’s curse at last, on an absolutely fabulous day, with some wonderful people (and Hugh) and in wintery conditions too. I felt on top of the world!

Geoff and Chris approaching the summit, Cruachan behind
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Looking back down where we had climbed up!
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Back down to Cononish
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Lui pose - this was after I nearly destroyed the cairn :roll:
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Chris on a cairn
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As the views were so great, and we felt we had earned it, we indulged ourselves in a lunch break. Geoff made us all laugh by pulling out a flask of Bovril, as well as his wee man (you have to walk with him to see it ;-) )

Hugh tried to show off his manliness by posing on a very exposed rock, and by then we were all ready for the off.
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Ice axes away and poles back out – insert pole lengthening joke here – I had a good laugh at Hugh who started to make the same mistake I had made the first time I was up here. Calling him back and pointing out the correct path, we made a collective decision not to trust him with any more navigation!

Towards Beinn a' Chleibh
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Now on the correct path, we headed steeply downhill towards the bealach below Beinn a’ Chleibh. This was hard work on our knees so when I spotted a big snow patch, I decided it was bum slide time – wheeeee!!

Geoff demonstrated the less dignified 'legs akimbo' bum slide which was well on the way to causing a minor Avalanche as well as much hilarity.

Chris demonstrating the bum slide
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And Geoff
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Back on our feet, we made it the rest of the way down before Hugh decided to leave his pack behind. The rest of us decided it would be easier to take the whole thing than to remove what we needed, so continued with the weight training. Despite looking completely insignificant from Ben Lui, it was a steep wee climb up the well-established path up to Chleibh.

Just before the summit, we met our friend Michael from the car park – he had been storming along and had only Lui left to go. After a quick chat, we wished him well and pushed on.

The climb to the summit was mercifully short and we reached the cairn amidst a debate as to whether it was the summit or not. I was pretty certain and even checked the map, but better safe than sorry, Geoff checked his GPS against the grid reference he had written down for the summit. It matched!

Posing on top of Chleibh
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Lui from Chleibh
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Admiring how huge Lui still looked in comparison to the 3rd smallest munro, we enjoyed some views towards Loch Awe and Ben Cruachan before returning to the bealach.

After a quick stop to tighten up boots, we began the traverse – this was the only part of the walk that I hadn’t done before, and also the bit I was least looking forward to. After a lot of traversing at Bridge of Orchy two days ago, my ankles were dreading it but it turned out not to be as bad as I had expected.

While Hugh and Geoff were discussing whisky, I had the opportunity to catch up with Chris who turned out to be sound as a pound – I love that you can meet people through Walk-Highlands that you would probably never encounter otherwise, but turn out to be the most wonderful company.

There was a small amount of miscalculation somewhere here – I’m going to blame Hugh because he was in the lead - but we ended up gaining height where we should have been losing it, so we came out 100m higher than the bealach, looking down into Coire Laoigh and across to the impressive looking Ben Oss.

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the bealach
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Slightly frustrated to be having to lose height, we made our way down to the bealach where we could see a path heading up the long ridge towards the summit of Oss. At this point Geoff demanded a fuel stop so we found some sheltered rocks as it was windy; after the jokes about clotted cream and scones we were disappointed to see him eating chocolate, albeit out of a Tupperware container! I shocked the group by eating an Aldi imposter of a caramel wafer and Hugh informed us all in some detail of how oaty bars get stuck in the back of his throat. Poor Chris was struggling to answer a message from his other half – “Are you ok?” “I’m surrounded by crazy people” would probably have instilled panic back home…. :crazy: :shock:

Breaktime over, we set about the long climb up to Beinn Oss. Hugh, trying to exert his position as alpha-male, set off at a pace and soon managed to lose the path. Trying to remember where it was from before, I managed to lead the rest of us on an easier trek and eventually picked up the path again which made the climb easier. Most of the way was not difficult but our legs were feeling tired by this point so we took our time. We met a couple of guys who were coming down from Ben Oss who said they were going in reverse – we looked worriedly at our watches until we realised that they were doing the traverse through to the A85 so didn’t have the long walk back to Dalrigh.

Across the Lui, still clear, from part way up Oss
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Geoff and Lui
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The last 50m to the summit were rocky and there was a wee bit of easy scrambling involved. It was very windy again here so jackets were back on and we all approached the summit together.

Lui looked incredibly impressive from this angle too (not sure she has a bad side) and the views down Loch Lomond were lovely too. I pointed out Beinn Dubhcraig, our fourth and final summit of the day and Chris looked at me in abject horror, before realising that I was pointing at the nearer summit rather than something a lot further away!

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After organising a group shot, we got moving. The descent wasn’t too bad, and a patch of snow invited another bum slide which ended badly when I continued sliding onto wet grass and ended up with a wet backside. Feeling slightly cranky, I saw Hugh ahead of me climbing up an extra summit that I thought we could avoid and suggested giving the others a choice – he ignored me and the rest of us figured we might as well burn off a few extra calories too.

There was a bit of bog-hopping required as we reached the bealach, but all made it across unscathed. The climb ahead of us was the last steep climb, and we lost some layers and refuelled before setting about it. Here Chris was asked when he started doing munros; his answer - yesterday! Respect massively increased,we continued towards the two lochans and from there the climb up the ridge towards the summit of Beinn Dubhcraig was straightforward.

Our final top for the day required some celebration so we had a quick sit-down in the shelter and enjoyed the wonderful views to the South. Unfortunately, I realised that I had forgotten to top up my snack supply after the Orchy marathon and was dismayed to discover that I was out of munchies.

Hugh victorious atop Beinn Dubhcraig
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Looking across Oss to Lui
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Lovely view down Lomond
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We were a long way from the car so it was time to plod downhill, and plod we did as we were all knackered! Returning towards the two lochans, we cut off to the right just beforehand and headed down the grassy ridge. It was at least fairly comfortable underfoot at this point and we made fairly steady progress.

Lui
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Feeling Hugh wanting to fly off down to the left too early, I kept us to the ridge until we were in line with the mine workings. At this point we had to take the plunge and started going steep downhill.

A view to make it better
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Another one
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It was hard going here as there were lots of big rocks and the ground was getting more slippery and boggy. We wound our way down through this maze until reaching a ravine and having to follow it down a little to find a crossing point. Waiting to guide Chris and Geoff across, we enjoyed the views across to Lui who was looking very fine in the evening light.

Looking back up to Chris and Geoff behind
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The farm now visible
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Now that the team was back together, we continued down the difficult terrain – the others agreed on several things such as the assassination of Trump (opinions varied on Nicola Sturgeon) and that this wouldn’t be much fun to ascend either – I assured them that they were correct on this count at least, having been up this way before. Better than squelching through thigh-deep bog though!

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Eventually we crossed a fence and picked up something resembling a path, then over a bump we saw the bridge! We were all happy to see it, and Geoff expressed his joy by giving it a kiss. No-one is ever that pleased to see me!

No river crossings, yay! :D
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Lui from the bridge
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Across the bridge, we walked another few metres to the track and it was a straight forward walk out from there. We realised that we couldn’t remember much of the walk in – testament to the quality of the banter!

We arrived back at the cars dreaming of baths, beds, dinners (well that was me anyway, I can’t speak for the others…) It was so late that I was craving pub food before driving home so was trying to tempt the others out too. Geoff was up for it and we had a very enjoyable meal in the Rod and Reel – their mince and tatties is as good as I remember – so thanks for keeping me company!

Thanks to all the team for having me and my terrible banter along – I am not sure I’d have repeated Lui on my own but I had an amazing day out and didn’t mind at all that I couldn’t add any more blue blobs to my map :lol:
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Jaxter
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby Tinman » Tue May 10, 2016 11:55 am

Excellent report Jackie, you definitely got it right on the third attempt (both the walk and the report). Good weather, good company and a dam fine walk.

As for me I am so pleased you didn't mention how s**t scared I was whilst climbing up the snowy part of Ben Lui. (I did check when I got home; my wife knows exactly where the life policies are kept. Not sure why.)

As for the Rod and Reel, for my part I would highly recommend the fish and chips which were excellent.

Until the next time.....

Geoff
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby Knuckledragger » Tue May 10, 2016 8:46 pm

Fab report Jax. Not sure if I was smiling or grimacing.....

Geoff - thanks for organising a stunning day in the hills, it really was a treat. Unfortunately I managed to lose the viewranger data somehow, but in summary: it was a long way up, a long way along, and took a long time!

Apologies for slowing everyone down, and more importantly, thanks to you all for keeping me motivated during what was as tough a day in the hills as I have had in a long time.

Got home to stew and sympathy - and no job list! Just as well really, as I was as stiff as a board on Sunday morning (easy now......)

Will be up for another jolly on either Fri 20th/Sat 21st if anyone is interested!
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby Borderhugh » Tue May 10, 2016 8:56 pm

Good one Jackie :clap:

Well done to Chris for ticking off these 4 on his 2nd day of munros. That was a biggish day.
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby Alteknacker » Tue May 10, 2016 9:48 pm

Glad you got lucky at last. :D It's a wonderful place.

I had 3 goes at one round before I got good weather, and it's very frustrating!!
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby Jaxter » Wed May 11, 2016 10:45 pm

Tinman wrote:As for me I am so pleased you didn't mention how s**t scared I was whilst climbing up the snowy part of Ben Lui. (I did check when I got home; my wife knows exactly where the life policies are kept. Not sure why.)

Ah well a cheeky wee bribe can go a long way :wink:


Knuckledragger wrote:Apologies for slowing everyone down, and more importantly, thanks to you all for keeping me motivated during what was as tough a day in the hills as I have had in a long time.

Got home to stew and sympathy - and no job list! Just as well really, as I was as stiff as a board on Sunday morning (easy now......)

Was great to have your company :D I'd never make such a crude comment.... :lol: :lol:


Borderhugh wrote:Good one Jackie :clap:

Well done to Chris for ticking off these 4 on his 2nd day of munros. That was a biggish day.

Definitely :clap: :clap:


Alteknacker wrote:Glad you got lucky at last. :D It's a wonderful place.

I had 3 goes at one round before I got good weather, and it's very frustrating!!

Ah yes it was your winter trip there that made me think I had to see it. So really all this is your fault! :lol: :wink:
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby 2manyYorkies » Thu May 12, 2016 12:12 pm

That's a great walk, I did it last October on my own. I remember the drag up Ben Oss seemed to take ages and didn't involve much of a path.
I descended thought the Caledonian Forest which was boggy but beautiful, and the river fording was easy.
Interested to see you've "gendered" Ben Lui to female, I've always gone with him as a he ....!
Great report :clap: :clap:
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby dexyweescot » Thu May 12, 2016 12:52 pm

Great post guys! im looking forward to my bike hike and ride at Lui so hopefully enough snow
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Re: 4 on 4 - Lucky Lui at last!

Postby perr » Fri May 13, 2016 6:22 pm

Well done - you do write good reports!
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