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September Snow and attending a Multiple Completion

September Snow and attending a Multiple Completion

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:37 am

Munros included on this walk: Ben Nevis, Càrn Mòr Dearg

Fionas included on this walk: Druim na Sgriodain

Date walked: 17/09/2017

Time taken: 16.25 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 2973m

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This weekend we had been invited to a quite remarkable completion/achievement in Relative Hills terms: Norman Wares, with whom we'd been neck and neck in the Grahams race last year was completing his not only his Grahams, but his "Full House", 1000 Marilyn, 1200 Hump and 2000 Tump all on the same summit, Druim na Sgriodan. This is a man who likes numbers! It seemed appropriate to head up The Ben to climb Allison's 2 remaining Munro Tops in this area on the Saturday then attend the jamboree on Sunday.

Weather forecast was for snow and -2 degrees up the Ben - mid September :lol: Ah well. We had a very slow drive up on Friday thanks to some cycling event that we got behind around Bridge of Orchy all the way to Torlundy. It was disappointing to see the early evening sunshine be replaced by clouds and finally rain by the time we eventually arrived at Bunroy campsite. Patience is a virtue I'm attempting to cultivate. It was already dark by the time we had our tea and we settled down for a damp night with more than a hint of autumn chill in the air.

Saturday morning was dry at least, some cloud but fairly high up. We drove to the north face carpark at Torlundy and got ready for the off. A pair of winter gloves had found its way into the rucksack, fortunately. I hadn't approached the hills from here before - last time we'd done the Arete we had come in from the half-way lochan and scrambled up steep scree to the top of Carn Mor Dearg - this time we were taking a more gentle ascent up the back of Carn Beag. A very pleasant way to head to the Ben rather than forcing one's way through the crowds up the pony track - we saw 4 other walkers only on our way through the woods and out onto the hillside. We did notice some orange flags out marking the way - in fact thees continued right over the arete - some runners were doing the circuit.

The back of The Ben
ImageP1170398 by Al, on Flickr

To Carn Beag
ImageP1170399 by Al, on Flickr

Cliffs on The Castle
ImageP1170401 by Al, on Flickr

The way up Carn Beag has a clear, if boggy, path and takes a steady gentle incline. Over to our right the cliffs of The Castle loomed out of the clag. Snow began to fall as we reached Carn Dearg Mheadonach and continued as we descended towards the start of the arete. I was trying out new shoes today - Salewa Wildfire GTX which I had found so far to be an improvement on Salomon XA PRO in terms of grip, having a firmer sole, yet not sacrificing the comfort of the Salomons. How would they cope with wet rock on the arete? Pretty well actually although I was perhaps a little cautious as it was my first time wearing them. We paused for lunch half way along the ridge in a semi-sheltered spot and watched the snow fall around us.

Carn Dearg Mheadhonach
ImageP1170403 by Al, on Flickr

Onwards to Carn Mor Dearg
ImageP1170404 by Al, on Flickr

At the start of the arete - orange flags visible
ImageP1170407 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170409 by Al, on Flickr

I was disappointed that the views across the arete resembled those seen last time - ie clag. It is an enjoyable outing even if there's very little scrambling to do. Arriving at the end of the ridge we made our way up to the summit - I remembered this as being tough last time but felt straightforward today. The top wasn't that busy (for The Ben) and most folk seemed to have reasonable clothing for the conditions - we did pass a wee lad wearing a thin polythene poncho who looked utterly miserable and frozen. Snow coated the north facing sides of the boulders. But the clag had lifted and we had some views for a change. From the summit we headed over to the first of the 2 Munro Tops, both rather confusingly called Carn Dearg. A wee reminder that it's the 1221m point that's the MT, not the one a little further north with the big cairn on top. There were good views down Coire na Ciste to the CIC hut.

Mamores to the south
ImageP1170415 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170417 by Al, on Flickr

Yes, snow on the trig
ImageP1170419 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170422 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Carn Dearg #1
ImageP1170423 by Al, on Flickr

Coire na Ciste
ImageP1170425 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Dearg
ImageP1170428 by Al, on Flickr

From here we cut back to the path and descended a little too far on the zigzags, having to contour round to reach the shoulder of our second Carn Dearg, which is reached down a shoulder of boulders/scree between coires Ghaimhnean and Eoghainn. Not a very pleasant descent although the lack of clag made this easier. A grassy walk to the cairn then about turn, back up the scree til we joined the path. It was eerily quiet - for about 10 minutes we only saw 2 other folk. On the Ben on a Saturday? We continued down the track to the lochan, with more folk in view now including quite a few still coming up. By now the sun was out and it was a rather splendid late afternoon.

Carn Dearg #2
ImageP1170430 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170432 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170433 by Al, on Flickr

We followed the path past the lochan, once again losing all the other folk and made our way down over boggy hillside towards the weir on the Allt a'Mhuillinn, sometimes finding a track, sometimes losing it in bog. There's an easy enough crossing just south of the weir and I was pleased to find that I still had dry feet when we got back to the trail through the forest. Some fine evening views over Fort William to the layers of mountains behind, beginning to turn different shades of blue as the evening fell. It had been quite a long day - 9.5 hours but enjoyable. Returning to Bunroy we had an early night although were disturbed by inconsiderate drunken folk returning from the pub around 12 who seemed to find everything thighslappingly funny.

ImageP1170437 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170440 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170442 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170445 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170446 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170448 by Al, on Flickr

Sunday - dry morning and looked as if it would be a good day - most unusual for a completion. We left early, having to be at the Corran Ferry for 9. There were various folk assembled waiting to cross over, none of whom I'd met before. Some were from the Nevis Walking Club but there were other luminaries including Dave Gibson and martin Richardson present, with Rick Salter, Rob Woodall and Alan Dawson joining us en route. Three Marilyn completists in the one place (and a few more nearing that feat). It was pleasing to meet some others that had Simms as their main target and of course to realize that we are not nearly as crazy as many folk seem to think (depending on the company being kept, of course).

The hill was one that we'd done in trying circumstances - Allison's back had been very sore and I remembered it as a claggy day with rivers in spate, snow still lying in the upper regions. Whereas today there was sunshine and views. We walked along the road to the graveyard, cut alongside a very noisy field of cows up onto bracken clad slopes alongside Coire na Cille. We made a fair pace for a completion party - a few more stops than if we'd been alone, but opportunity to chat to folk. Up to the trig point on Sgurr na h-Eanchainne where we all stopped for an early lunch - more determined beings like Rob Woodall fidgeting a bit at the rest stops. Good views west to Jura, and the cliffs of Garbh Bheinn rose impressively - that's a hill to do again sometime soon.

Our hill in backdrop
ImageP1170449 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170451 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170453 by Al, on Flickr

The mighty Garbh Bheinn
ImageP1170455 by Al, on Flickr

Towards the summit
ImageP1170457 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170459 by Al, on Flickr

We continued on to the summit where much hilarity ensued, whisky consumed and cake eaten. Alan Dawson arrived along with his mountain measuring machinery and proceeded to dismantle the cairn to take an accurate reading, giving a lesson on the aesthetics of cairn building at the same time. He likes to let the true top of the mountain see the light of day, after having been covered under a pile of stones for a (long) while then maybe rebuild a cairn that is in keeping with the hilltop - using flat stones for a stable build, eschewing white quartz if the rest of the hilltop isn't quartz and choosing the size of cairn - or maybe deciding no cairn at all if there's a natural outcrop. Some in the party were less enthusiastic about removing cairns, others saw cairns themselves as vandalism. Myself, I do like a cairn that's right for its setting.

ImageP1170460 by Al, on Flickr

Norman, about to complete his 6 lists (and other things)
ImageP1170461 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170465 by Al, on Flickr

Alan Dawson dispensing instruction on cairn management
ImageP1170469 by Al, on Flickr

Norman on the true summit
ImageP1170471 by Al, on Flickr

and this is how you measure a hill...
ImageP1170475 by Al, on Flickr

We set off downhill, leaving Alan to finish taking his measurements (and he had another 3 tops to measure before joining us in the pub) - much drier a descent than last time though still steep. Maclean's Towel was subdued today - not the raging torrent we'd had to cross last time. A steep and slippy descent on grass to the mast followed, then onto track by Ardgour House and into the Ardgour inn where a drink and buffet were waiting - Norman even managing to cope with veggie/vegan requests :D Back across on the ferry at 5 after a good day spent in enjoyable company. I was left with the feeling that I need to up my game somewhat in terms of hills (Shhh - don't tell Allison :lol: )

Maclean's Towel a mere dreep
ImageP1170477 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1170478 by Al, on Flickr
Last edited by weaselmaster on Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: September Snow and a Multiple Completion

Postby Borderhugh » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:33 pm

Upping your game! You are having a laugh! You 2 are hill androids! :D
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Re: September Snow and attending a Multiple Completion

Postby Sgurr » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:04 pm

Was sorry I couldn't make the compleation, partly because I'd have liked to meet some hill legends, but mainly because I was sitting next to Norman at the RHB Dinner (the first we have ever attended) and it felt very unsocial not to cancel and come too. So nice to see what happened. As you say, amazing weather for a compleation where the forecast usually goes from bright sun, via white cloud to three raindrops issuing from black cloud as you fret.
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Re: September Snow and attending a Multiple Completion

Postby battie72 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:39 pm

You're lucky I'm not allowed to swear on here! :roll: :roll: :roll:
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Re: September Snow and attending a Multiple Completion

Postby Norman Wares » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:21 am

Superb report on your activities on both days. Great photographs too Al. Glad you enjoyed Sunday.
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Re: September Snow and attending a Multiple Completion

Postby Collaciotach » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:24 pm

Spotted you pair when i came off the Corran ferry at 9 am on my way to SFRS course in Aberdeen. I recognized you from photos :wink:
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