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Epic East Mamores

Epic East Mamores


Postby jupe1407 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:58 pm

Route description: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean, Mamores

Munros included on this walk: Binnein Beag, Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean, Sgurr Eilde Mor

Date walked: 08/07/2017

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 18.9 km

Ascent: 2030m

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The Mamores are a wonderful range of hills, and have featured in my hillwalking since my first foray up Ben Nevis in May 2012. On one of the few days the UK's highest peak gives up a summit view, I got a fantastic panorama of the superb and varied chain of peaks to the Ben's south, without having any actual idea of what they were :lol: Changed days indeed.

I've also been largely fortunate with the weather on these hills, having had glorious conditions on the Ring of Steall (second time round) and Stob Ban/Mullach nan Coirean. Saturday was no exception. After a week of scanning various weather websites, Saturday looked to be the best weatherwise, promising cloud free munros and a lot of wind. Pretty much bang on as it turned out.

Rob and I arrived at the Grey Mares Tail car park around 8:45 and set off walking shortly afterwards, immediately taking a wrong turn :lol: Thankfully there are a ridiculous number of paths here, so it's quite easily to right one's self and get back en-route. After some good height gain the views started opening out back towards Loch Leven and Kinlochleven.

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Back to Loch Leven

The path is excellent, and gains height gradually after crossing the main track which heads down to Loch Eilde Mor. We stopped for a quick bite to eat at one of the river crossings. My weapon of choice being a cheese-laden wholemeal wrap which would likely add to the predicted windy conditions later on. The path continues gradually uphill, skirting round the lower slopes of Sgor Eilde Beag, eventually arriving at the rather lovely setting of Coire an Lochain.

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Coire an Lochain & a distant Binnein Beag

From here the ascent of Sgurr Eilde Mor is pretty straightforward. There's a fairly easy path to gain the ridge, which then winds it's up scree and boulders, with an optional scramble on the way. The views were improving all the time too.

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Loch Eilde Mor & some Glencoe peaks

It didn't take long to gain the summit, which had terrific views of Binnein Beag and the Grey Corries. It was however extremely windy (the weather kind) so we didn't hang about long. I considered heading out onto the exposed path down from the summit to get the traditional shot of the Lochan from above, but the possibility of being blown into said loch from a great height changed my plans somewhat.

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Sgurr Eilde Mor summit views

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As close as i wanted to get....

The descent from this peak is well documented, and is a bit of a scree surf to say the least. I couldn't be bothered taking out the walking poles, but somehow avoided slipping onto my backside. Before long we dropped into the Coire and found a sheltered spot to demolish more food and look forward to losing even more height before ascending towards the rather interesting looking Binnein Beag.

The excellent stalkers path drops into Coire a'Bhinnein before slowly regaining height to the foot of the final ascent. There are a couple of boggy sections at the low point, but otherwise the path is fine and once the height is gained, there are great views out to the Grey Corries.

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A distant Stob Ban and the Easains.

From afar it looks like a horrifically steep scree-type affair, but actually a decent path heads up the nose to the summit, another fine viewpoint. The wind up here was ferocious (both kinds). Handily though there is a decent stone shelter so we were able to enjoy lunch before getting a couple of photos and descending back to the bealach.

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Binnein Mor from the summit of Beag.

We headed quickly back to the bealach. At this point Rob was feeling pretty rubbish and decided to head back to Coire an Lochain and back down to the car park. I was feeling OK and decided to carry on. Thinking I could cope with a 305m reascent and then what appeared an easy ridgewalk to the final summit. I started on a pathless trek below the enormous looking Binnein Mor, passing two small lochans (basically following Fife Flyer's route).

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This looks fun

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Binnein Beag, a tremendous little peak

After passing the lochans I was confronted with what looked like 200-250m of massively steep grassy ascent. My favourite. It was here I realised my arithmetical **** up of half an hour ago. 1130m minus 725m is in fact 405m. Oops. I carried on anyway, and made it up the slope quite quicky, although the angle of ascent just before the ridge required me to clamber up on my hands and knees at one point. :lol:

However I crested the ridge and noticed two things.

The magnificent views back to Binnein Beag and beyond:

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And that I still had a thoroughly annoying 200+ metres of ascent to the summit on a very windy ridge.

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The strong crosswind made for an interesting and rather slow ridgewalk as my thighs were still burning from my rapid ascent of the grassy slope. However this gave me a good excuse to stop and regularly take in the views, which were terrific.

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Ben Nevis fulfilling it's contractual obligation to be clagged when everything else is clear

Eventually, with slightly wearying legs, I made the rocky summit ridge and immediately spent several minutes trying to work out with massive rock was the highest point. I eventually decided to touch each of the "candidates" to be on the safe side.

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The airy summit ridge

Binnein Mor is a superb viewpoint on a good day, and as the WH route planner says, Binnein Beag looks tiny, almost like a Graham or something from this height :lol:

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Binnein Beag

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Coire an Lochain

Not wanting to hang around too long in a cold and rather annoying crosswind, I headed along the ridge to the 1062 point, from where the ascent of Na Graugaichean looked a decent prospect.

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Towards Na Gruagaichean

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Back to the superb Binnein Mor

The ridgewalk to Na Gruagaichean thankfully proved straightforward and not particularly taxing, and before long I was standing on the summit of my final Mamore.

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Summit of Na Gruagaichean

There was a terrific view here towards Kinlochleven and Loch Leven so I decided to move out of the wind to blitz the rest of my food. I had made good time up until this point, and this is an excellent spot for a snack :lol:

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A superb final viewpoint

Unfortunately I think i sat down too long as my legs felt awful when standing up again :lol: However I packed up, deployed the walking poles for the first time today and set off in eager anticipation of a steep, pathless and grassy decent. Happily to section to Leachd na-h'Aire is good, thereafter there is a steep path with zig zags down to a boulderfield before completely disappearing for the rest of the descent.

The remaining 500+ metres of height to be lost is down extremely steep, mostly wet grass, heather and moss. I tried to be clever and spotted a wee grassy ridge which looked a decent walk down for the last 200m of descent and indeed there were signs of a path on it. Annoyingly for me, this was an old unused path which led straight to a deer fence. I then had to follow this fence through ferns, mud and generally dreadful terrain for about 20 minutes to make the track. I compounded this by missing the shortcut path to Kinlochleven, ended up walking up the landrover track for too long and had to cut down to the path from 100m above it over treacherous ground, and more ferns, which put the tin hat on what had been an absolutely purgatorial descent.

I eventually made it back to the car park, tired, but very pleased with the day's walking. These are great hills indeed, although there must be a better way off Na Gruagaichean :lol:


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jupe1407
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Re: Epic East Mamores

Postby Driftwood » Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:06 pm

Ah, those paths around Kinlochleven! Welcome to the club of those who started (and in my case ended) this walk with some unplanned diversions along their many miles :lol:

Some great views (and weather, excepting the wind), I've also been lucky on my walks in the Mamores, or maybe just save them for clearer days. There are some fine ridges up onto Binnein Mor (I went up the northeast one, which'd be even less suitable in strong winds), which really does stand head-and-shoulders above its little sibling and near neighbours.
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Re: Epic East Mamores

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:09 pm

Driftwood wrote:Ah, those paths around Kinlochleven! Welcome to the club of those who started (and in my case ended) this walk with some unplanned diversions along their many miles :lol:

Some great views (and weather, excepting the wind), I've also been lucky on my walks in the Mamores, or maybe just save them for clearer days. There are some fine ridges up onto Binnein Mor (I went up the northeast one, which'd be even less suitable in strong winds), which really does stand head-and-shoulders above its little sibling and near neighbours.


I take it the NE ridge is the scrambly route? I did consider it, but the wind put me off, although I would likely have been sheltered from it for a good chunk of the route.
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Re: Epic East Mamores

Postby Fife Flyer » Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:41 pm

Enjoyed that JP, with your usual fantastic photo's :clap:
Agree about the final descent off NG, done it twice and two different routes and am convinced there must be a better way down. Binnein Mor is one of my favourite hills and offers superb views all round.
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Re: Epic East Mamores

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:55 pm

Fife Flyer wrote:Enjoyed that JP, with your usual fantastic photo's :clap:
Agree about the final descent off NG, done it twice and two different routes and am convinced there must be a better way down. Binnein Mor is one of my favourite hills and offers superb views all round.


Thanks Martin :D

I don't think there's a better way off it unless you head up to the NW top and take a path from there, but it's miles away. This possibly explains why my Cicerone Guide ties it in with An Gearanach and Stob Coire a'Chairn :lol:
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Re: Epic East Mamores

Postby Driftwood » Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:32 pm

jupe1407 wrote:I take it the NE ridge is the scrambly route? I did consider it, but the wind put me off, although I would likely have been sheltered from it for a good chunk of the route.


Yes, or at least it's a semi-sustained scramble. I think grade 1, though it looked easy enough to work around on either side.
More than half of the height gain is just steep grass and stone (very similar to the way onto the NW ridge you took), then there's a long relatively-level shoulder before the stepped quartzite scramble up to the summit ridge of Binnein Mor.
I was lucky to have a dry day, with no more than a welcome breeze, though I might have had different opinions of it (or crawled my way up the slopes further around!) in more "interesting" conditions. And there's at least one more promising-looking ridge the next-one-around (on the east side) that two others went up at about the same time as me. They didn't describe that as a scramble, but along with the NW ridge it looked a tempting option to me.
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