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Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!

Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!


Postby roscoT » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:44 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: 25/03/2017

Time taken: 8.75 hours

Distance: 26.1 km

Ascent: 1809m

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For 2 years now, those 4 red dots on the map between Crianlarich and Dalmally have been goading me to turn them blue, but for various poorly-justified reasons (fitness levels and weather etc) I have never been able to oblige. Fitness levels now up, and a weekend of wall-to-wall sunshine - it would have been frankly rude not to!

An early rise left me regretting the 8 mile run followed by beers and takeaway the night before. 3 hours and 5 toilet stops later, I was pulling into the already busy car park at Dalrigh, not, if i'm honest, feeling totally up for a full day's walking. A gentle start along the track from the Old Church got some motivation into my legs, along with the stunning views to the mirage-like Meall Odhar, Beinn Chuirn and then, finally, glorious Ben Lui herself. I told myself I would take the long walk out to see how I felt, and turn back at the foot of the Ben if I didn't feel like it - good to get out in the fresh air nonetheless. 9.30, and it was already very warm - hydration was going to be important if I was to manage this classic round of 4.

ImageP1040023 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageCaledonian Pine by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040027 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageFirst view of Lui by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040029 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageNortheast corrie by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Passing Cononish Farm in just my t-shirt, the massive alpine hulk of Ben Lui became more intimidating with each step closer. Still, barely a cloud in the sky - the haze of the spring sunshine making the cold of Winter seem like a distant memory (until, that is, you looked up!)

ImageBen Lui and Ben Oss by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageAllt Eas Anie from Cononish by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040035 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageSpot the people by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The view and the conditions were far too good for me to say no to this challenge, dickie tummy or not, and so I started with the aim of ascending into the corrie and cutting right to reach Stob Garbh, then climb the corrie rim to the summit of Ben Lui. An 800m climb all-in - how tough could it be?

Imagefrom the bottom by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageCononish glen, Ben Challum and co by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040043 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The answer was quite! The heat was an issue on the initial climb into the corrie bowl and in passing a father and son I was asked if I had crampons. I had said yes of course, although it seemed unlikely I would need them. How wrong I was!

ImageP1040044 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040045 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageFrom Stob Garbh ridge by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The climb from the corrie to Stob Garbh was a tiring one, not least due to my poor route-finding. Eventually, however, the ridge was reached, accompanied by a distinct chill in the air. The views from here were simply stunning in every direction, not least the view ahead. The central gully looks very impressive from here - truly majestic, not sure why you would want to endure the bogs from the other side when the alternative is this?

ImageP1040047 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBen Lomond by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageGlen Coe and Nevis panorama by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageCruachan hills by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imagezoomed by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imageview ahead to summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040056 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Caught up with a group of three guys and had a long stop for some food, water, and to apply a few more layers. It was properly cold now, so hat, gloves and face mask were needed. Had a wee chat with the guys about the conditions and what not, but also agreed on the need for crampons and ice axe for the route ahead, which initially involved a dodgy looking traverse over snow which, due to the previous night's clear skies, was now hard glittering ice...this was going to be fun!

ImageFinal ascent, traverse visible right to left by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

I watched the first guy shoot over the traverse, albeit with fairly unsteady hands, but the other 2 seemed less certain - turned out one of them was wearing crampons on a hill for the first time! So I plodded on ahead and cut some steps with the axe for them to follow. The ice was absolutely solid and I wondered how the guy ahead had managed it - one slip or misplaced foot and you were definitely a goner! :shock: Anyway, despite some shakes, I managed - the toughest part was over, but not out of the woods yet - a right turn leads on to a narrow ridge, again plastered in ice, luckily some footsteps left from the previous day, however frozen over so not a great deal of use - more axe work and holds needed. Great stuff!

ImageP1040059 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imagelooking (spot 2 at top of traverse) by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

A few more minutes of concentration and a couple of steep steps up and, suddenly, I was gladly on the summit plateau :D A chat with the guy that had gone ahead confirmed that the traverse was indeed 'mega dodgy'! He looked at me as if I was an idiot when I said I was hoping to do another 3 munros before the end of the day. His supposition wasn't too far off the mark...
Whatever the hill or the route taken, I think everyone who was above a couple of thousand feet last weekend can attest - it was absolutely worth it!

Imagenorth summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imagecornices at the summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imagenorth summit from Carn Mhuirich by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imageinto central gully by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBen Oss, Dubhcraig and Crianlarich hills by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBen Lomond, Loch Lomond and Arrochar Alps by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBig Ben by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imageto Beinn a Chleibh, Cruachans and west coast in the distance by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imagesummit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageSummit panorama by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Had a couple of sandwiches at the top and soaked in those views - some of the best I have ever seen. Could'v easily stayed here for a while, but time was marching on. My sluggishness had meant I had already taken 3 and a half hours to this point - my target of 8 hours and the prospect of finishing the round in daylight seemed increasingly more unlikely. For now, though, it was a relaxed walked over to Beinn a'Chleibh, stretching out the still stiff legs after the shock of the Ben Lui climb.

ImageTowards Glen Fyne by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3719 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imageback to Ben Lui by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3721 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBeinn a'Chleibh summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Didn't hang about at the summit this time as I knew it was going to be a long and fairly taxing walk in the heat to the day's next target, Ben Oss, from here. A few people on the hill but I had actually expected it to be busier. Views west to the Cruachan massif and the inner hebrides were stunning.

ImageIMG_3724 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3727 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

I retraced my steps back to the bealach, then made a right turn to traverse the slopes above Coire Aonaidh. Heading southeast, I tried to stay on the 700m contour line all the way to the foot of Ben Oss. This was the second instance of bad route-finding of the day, as it meant an almost constant descent and reascent of countless mini valleys, and a lot of rubbing on my right foot due to the slope. Views to the right helped keep me going, and after an age I was finally looking up at Ben Oss.

Imageacross the slopes by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBen Oss by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Met a group here with a couple of dogs and had a quick chat, before filling up on water and eating some more food - as much as I had been enjoying the day, the 400m climb ahead did not fill me with delight. Struggled to find a decent route, but stuck to my guns to the right after the first initial climb, then left closer to the crags for the second half. Eventually, footsteps in the snow were picked up and followed to the summit. Ben Lui looks truly alpine from here - I have never seen a mountain in Scotland that looks so different from different angles. From here, it seemed improbable to me I had scaled it only hours before.

ImageLui by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The flat expanse between the Lui range and Glen Fyne lay splayed out behind me in the sunshine, the patterns of snow patches acting as guts. Only a Suilven-like Meall nan Tighearn and the distant Beinn Bhuidhe punctuated the flatness.

ImageIMG_3736 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The cold breeze which had chilled me to the bone over on Ben Lui was nowhere to be seen now, profuse levels of sweat now covering me. It was with some relief that the small summit cairn of Ben Oss came into view :D

ImageLui again by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageGlen Fyne and Beinn Bhuidhe by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imageto the summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imagecairn by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Imagesummit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

A short break here, and tiredness was really starting to hit me like a ton of bricks, thoughts moved towards a warm bath, a glass of wine and a hot dinner. But how could I possibly be grumpy with views like these???

ImageBridge of Orchy hills by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3749 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The final peak of the day, Beinn Dubhcraig, seemed tantalisingly close at hand, slouched in position above Loch Oss, but reaching it involved a semi circular route via the bealach 300m below - the final leg was underway :D

ImageBeinn Dubhcraig and Loch Oss by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3755 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3756 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3756 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageLoch Oss by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBen and Loch Lomond by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

An initially steep ascent from the bealach eventually levels off, giving a less taxing final approach (although every step was taxing for me by this point!) to the summit, where a gorgeous view of Loch Lomond revealed itself. The sun was now setting, but remained as brilliant as ever - only the 'golden hour' now to look forward to.

ImageDubhcraig summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageOss and Lui by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageTyndrum and Beinn Odhar by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageNap time? by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Considered having a nap on the summit, but I may not have woken up, so pushed on to begin the long descent to the car, heading northwest then northeast into the shade and towards the woodland far below. Eventually, when the edge of the woodland is reached, there is a confluence of streams into attractive waterfalls. Very boggy and (for the umpteenth time) route finding was not easy.

ImageIMG_3772 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3775 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The hills all around were glowing red by this point, the contrast between shade and light illuminating the caledonian pine in a way I had never seen before. I ended up on what I thought was the wrong side of the burn, the right-hand side, but which I would later find out was actually the better way to descend.

ImageIMG_3777 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3778 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3779 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3780 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3781 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3782 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3783 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3784 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

After crossing the burn higher up and descending further through the woodland for what seemed like an age, I reached the confluence of the River Cononish - only problem being I had forgotten in my tiredness that the bridge was out! Due to all the snow melt, a dry crossing without retracing my steps a long way was clearly impossible, so after finding a decent crossing area, I waded in up to my knees. This turned out to be a wee blessing in disguise though - the freezing cold water soothing my burning feet. The last kilometre or 2 back to car was sent in relative squelchy comfort, looking back on a sunset over a group of hills I wouldn't forget in a hurry.

This felt like as much of an adventure for a day walk that i'd ever had. I spent the 2 and a half hour drive home in a bit of a trance, and needless to say I was sleeping before my head hit the pillow not long after!

Imageno bridge by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3787 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBen More and Stob Binnein by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageIMG_3789 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
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roscoT
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Re: Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:43 pm

That looked stunning Ross - another group of hills I've still to get to.
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Re: Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!

Postby teaandpies » Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:27 am

A decent day out by the looks of it. Not long to go before you hit the ton!

I myself was trapped at work trying to avoid acknowledging that it was nice outside :(
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Re: Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!

Postby Mal Grey » Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:48 am

Fantastic, that was quite a day!
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Re: Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!

Postby roscoT » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:08 pm

Gordie12 wrote:That looked stunning Ross - another group of hills I've still to get to.


Cheers Gordie - definitely save them for a clear day!

teaandpies wrote:A decent day out by the looks of it. Not long to go before you hit the ton!

I myself was trapped at work trying to avoid acknowledging that it was nice outside :(


Yeah not long buddy, doing a lot of running this year so the hills might have to take a back seat (unless I combine the 2 of course :shock: )

Gutter a bit last weekend, see you've been doing a power of walking around Bridge of Orchy though :clap:

Mal Grey wrote:Fantastic, that was quite a day!


Thanks Mal, I was absolutely gubbed after it I have to admit :lol:
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roscoT
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Re: Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!

Postby teaandpies » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:32 pm

roscoT wrote:
teaandpies wrote:A decent day out by the looks of it. Not long to go before you hit the ton!

I myself was trapped at work trying to avoid acknowledging that it was nice outside :(


Yeah not long buddy, doing a lot of running this year so the hills might have to take a back seat (unless I combine the 2 of course :shock: )

Gutter a bit last weekend, see you've been doing a power of walking around Bridge of Orchy though :clap: quote]

It's something to aim for now. It'll be criminal not to do the ton this year :crazy: I think I might try and reach it myself...I wish petrol was free :?

The BoO Munros handed my ass to me on both outings :shock: :lol:
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Re: Ben Lui 4 - Worth The Wait!

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:13 am

Just read this - don't know how I missed it when it was first published. Some really superb pics :clap: :clap: :clap:

What a fantastic day you had for it! I had not dissimilar conditions the previous year - this round takes a lot of beating when there's covering of the white stuff like this!
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