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Dubhchraig & Oss via Fiarach - Winter Calling (Day 2)
by Graeme D » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:57 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Dubhchraig, Ben Oss
Date walked: 25/09/2010
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 20 km
Ascent: 965mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I still had sleep in my eyes and the wind chill was making them stream to the point that I could barely see a thing. I spent a few minutes stumbling around like a half blind drunkard taking some photos before my fingers froze solid and I had to beat a hasty retreat back to the sanctuary of the tent to brew up for some coffee .
An hour later, still wearing all my bits and pieces, I had had breakfast of chopped fruit and yoghurt (slightly crunchy around the edges after spending the night in the awning!) washed down with two mugs of coffee, had scraped the ice off the tent and was fully packed up and ready for the offski. 8.15am - Dubhchraig and Oss here we come. Let's roll!
We dropped down off the summit of Fiarach and across the wide peat hag and lochan studded moorland plateau towards the crags of Creagan Soilleir which then plunge down into the broad bealach of Cruachan Cruinn. In warmer temperatures this could be a bit of a bogfest, but the freezing temperatures of last night have made the peat hags and the spongy bogs distinctly crunchy if not exactly frozen solid. Great for walking on this crisp Saturday morn!
At the foot of Creagan Soilleir I stop for 10 minutes to remove my long-johns, put on a lighter base layer and ditch the wind cheater. I decide to keep fairly far across to the left and swing around to approach Beinn Dubhchraig from a more southerly direction rather than a more direct approach up what looks like steeper south eastern slopes.
As we descend towards the streams, someone has clearly decided that things are going too well this morning and a little bit of misfortune is required to keep me on my toes. On a tricky down slope I go into a full-on ass skid through a patch of gloopy green slime with the consistency of wallpaper paste. The seat of my pants and the green stuff are only in contact for a couple of seconds but it's long enough! Ah well.... the Lord giveth us this fine morning in the hills and then He taketh away one's dignity! Just as well I'm 99.99% certain that I'm the only person for miles around as I drop my drawers and use my long-johns to wipe down myself, my underwear and my trousers. Even still, for the next half hour or so my shorts cling stubbornly and somewhat uncomfortably to my skinny ass until the breeze and the strengthening sun dry them off sufficiently for them to let go.
As I climb up the southern flanks of Beinn Dubhchraig (still steep, and getting steeper as I climb towards the crags, although less steep I'm sure than the direct line from the corner of the forestry), amazing views start to open up of the Crianlarich hills to the south east and Loch Lomond and the Arrochar peaks to the south. I make a few unscheduled stops to soak it all in and at one such stop, perched atop a large slab of rock with a straight view 180º right down the twisting trench of Loch Lomond, I send a text to Kevsbald to enquire as to whether he made it out as planned into the Arrochar Corbetts ( although sadly his reply confirmed that work commitments had left him firmly grounded this weekend).
After a good 20 minutes of just sitting there enjoying the sun and the views, I continued onwards and upwards through the rocky crags before emerging just to the right of and below the summit. The views now also extended northwards to the Tyndrum and Rannoch hills and beyond towards Glencoe, while over to the west, Ben Oss and the massive bulk of Ben Lui behind it dominate the skyline.
We have the summit to ourselves and I hunker down behind the sprawling wind shelter cairn for a first lunch comprising largely of Morrison's "The Best" mini salami bites. Very tasty. Lucy seemed to like them too!
Then it was on down the rocky path to the lochan studded bealach between Coire Buidhe and Coire Garbh before swinging south to follow the path along the south eastern flanks of Oss.
Again, this was a slightly longer ascent route but looked like it would be less steep. In any case, it was a beautiful day for an extended walk and we still had plenty time before we were required back in Perth.
The ascent up the southern flanks of Ben Oss seemed a lot less demanding than Beinn Dubhchraig had been and it wasn't long at all until we popped out onto the summit plateau a short distance south east of the cairn. A lone walker was just leaving the cairn as we came into sight of it, and another (who turned out to be none other than Rockhopper) appeared a short while later - the only two people I was to clap eyes on from leaving the car until almost back at the car later that afternoon.
Ben Lui looks even more grand and imposing from here, and the views beyond that over Loch Awe and the Cruachan group are breathtaking.
Once I have taken all the photos I want, I leave the summit to Rockhopper and nip a short distance down to the west where I find a sheltered little nook and settle down for lunch number 2 - this time it's some kind of Moroccan cous-cous concoction (again courtesy of Morrison's) washed down the the remaining beer left over from last night, which was still nicely chilled after a night outside the tent and today spent in a backpack at altitude. Now, that's what I call a lunch!
Maybe I spent too long sitting with my beer in my little nook with a view, but when I got ready to leave and glanced both at my watch and the map, time seemed to have marched on and I still had quite a bit to do. On the ascent of Ben Oss I had seen what looked to be a path skirting the mountain some distance below the summit and heading west towards the head of Coire Laoigh. However, for the first time today really, I decided to take a direct line and whack straight down the steep (very steep!) western slopes of Ben Oss. I knew just by looking at it that it was going to be a knee shattering descent, but it also looked perfectly do-able. Whether or not it was actually any quicker than going via the head of the coire or not, I don't know. I certainly slowed down considerably after having three times in quick succession stepped onto what looked like a perfectly huge and stable slab of rock only for the thing to slide right out from under me, almost taking me with it. Although I made it down in one piece, and it is perfectly do-able, I can't say I'd actually recommend it as a descent route!
Once down into the coire, the path along the Allt Coire Laoigh is initially quite good and dry although as it approaches the confluence with the Allt an Rund and the River Cononish, it begins to degenerate badly and I decide it is worth doing 500 metres or so of whacking across very rough ground to reach the track near where it starts below Ben Lui's huge corrie.
Now I can get my head down and up the pace a bit back along the track to Dalrigh, with thoughts of tonight's curry and a few pints of lager to spur me on.....
by rockhopper » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:24 pm
I've never tried this type of camping but you're definitely doing a great selling job...although I think I'd want to wait until warmer weather before trying it
by kevsbald » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:26 am
i'm busy this weekend but already have Friday the 8th booked off for a wild camp in the Cairngorms - cannae wait and your report just whetted by already sizeable appetite.
by kinley » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:34 pm
Excellent route - must admit linking that Graham with the munros had eluded my attention. I may have to borrow your route
Enjoyed the report and the photos - cheers
by LeithySuburbs » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:48 pm
by Merry-walker » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:05 pm
bet ya loved it,
Graeme, this looks a fine trip, one I would love to do, but would need some fine company. I tend to talk to myself an awful lot which tends to get tedious when ah I have is mysel to listen to. (dog-face doesnae input much, shes busy wi the hares)
by JB likes a beer » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:29 pm