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Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:46 am

Route description: Garbh Bheinn, Loch Leven

Corbetts included on this walk: Garbh Bheinn (Loch Leven)

Date walked: 06/11/2017

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 7 km

Ascent: 829m

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You can take Panther off the hills, but you can't take hills out of Panther's head. Especially when her birthday is coming!
Mother nature decided to give me an early gift and delivered some snow for me to celebrate on the higher ground. I didn't really expect the white stuff in the first week of November, but weather forecast for Sunday was decent, so we decided to visit a half-day Corbett neat Kinlochleven. I always thought it was too short a walk for summer time and kept this route for winter conditions, despite the hill being very steep :? Having done it now I can say, for anybody with a pinch of experience, it's a perfect November treat :D :D :D
Garbh Bheinn looks so steep and formidable from any direction, but there is a breach in the fortress up Torran na Crann ridge. I remembered somebody say that the bottom half of the climb was a quagmire but it didn't put us off. The morning was cold so we packed extra layers of clothing just in case - proved useful later on!

The route starts from the bridge on B863, where there is a rough layby for 3-4 cars. The ascent is straightforward if very boggy. On the descent we took a detour to Gleann a'Chaolais:

Track_GARBH BHEINN LOCHLEVEN.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I was surprised to see snow on higher ground. A bit worried 'cause we didn't pack crampons, but as we found out later, there was no ice under the snow, just a nice, crispy layer of fresh white stuff. That's how I like it!
Mamores white in the morning:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 001.JPG

We started up the obvious path which soon became a muddy trench, so as soon as we could, we left it and headed straight for the steeper section. It was easier to walk up wet vegetation than to drown in mushy tatties. Yuck.
Looking down to the road and Loch Leven:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 005.JPG

We were gaining height quickly till we reached the first rocky section. Here, we met the path again, as it passed below the crags. It must have rained the previous night 'cause the ground was waterlogged, water dripping down the slopes - and the muddy path was a nightmarish experience. We had a few near misses, balancing on mushy tatties, before emerging on somewhat flatter ground... I didn't like the whole experience at all and neither did Kevin. Indeed, he suggested we should try finding an alternative route of descent. Anything to avoid this gloompy-squelchy haven! :?
Not happy at all... Steep, wet and "strictly come mud balancing"... Mam na Gualain ridge in the background:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 011.JPG

The path (more a boggy stream that day) and the view west. Despite the splodgathon, we knew that we were in for a treat. And the best was yet to come!
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 018.JPG

The Torran na Crann ridge consists of a succession of rocky lumps and bumps. The path becomes a bit drier higher up and it avoids all difficulties. The sight of snow near the summit cheered me up :D
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 020.JPG

As we marched on, we met another walker on his way down, he confirmed our suspicions that conditions higher up were good, a decent path up the steeper section and only a dusting of snow, no ice.
As we traversed the ridge, my attention was drawn to the unnamed waterfall cascading down the slopes on the other side of Gleann a'Chaolais:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 029.JPG

View down along the ridge, Pap of Glencoe prominent to the left:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 041.JPG

Having passed a boggy dip, we faced the steepest section of the climb. There was a well-worn path and the ground became dry underfoot - at last! I didn't even mind the acute angle...
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 050.JPG

...and some scree here and there... as the views were worth the effort! the sun came out and we knew we were heading up for all the beauty of winter wonderland :D
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 058.JPG

Mam nan Gualain and reflections in Loch Leven:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 060.JPG

Zoom to Pap and Beinn a'Bheithir behind:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 066.JPG

The path up the steep section bypasses three rocky bluffs, one could attempt scrambling up directly as they don't look that difficult but we didn't fancy anything too brave (or stupid) when the rock was wet and slippy. Higher up we entered the snow zone and suddenly the world transformed into winter wonderland :D
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 079.JPG

We took a short break on Stob Coire Sgoilte for some panoramas. To the north of us, the Mamores proudly presented their white-topped summits:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 078.JPG

Another Garbh Bheinn on the opposite side of Loch Linnhe - still to climb one day:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 082.JPG

At the moment we concentrated on reaching the summit of "our" Garbh Bheinn. The snow was soft underfoot and I was ready to sing Jingle bells :lol: :lol:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 088.JPG

Aonach Eagach entered the stage... Seeing it so close and covered in white reminded me, we still had this monster to defeat (gulp)...
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 089.JPG

The final 100m of ascent can be as easy or as difficult as one wishes. The easiest way is to avoid the rocky pinnacle to the left past a small dip in the ground or one can scramble over it. The path avoids the direct scramble but still one has to take a few awkward, handhold-requiring steps up the right side of the pinnacle. Which way did we choose? Guess what. Ha ha ha.
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 090.JPG

We somehow managed to clamber our way over the pinnacle, carefully checking every step. In summer time, dry conditions, it would be nothing, but the snow made everything slippery. A nice rush of adrenaline though :lol:
Looking back at the pinnacle:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 107.JPG

Panorama north - the Mamores in their full glory:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 105.JPG

Past the pinnacle, the rest of the climb is formality:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 110.JPG

We took countless stops for photos of this magnificent landscape, so much nicer with the cover of snow:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 115.JPG

On the summit, as we wandered about, in places we sank into fresh, soft snow up to our ankles:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 117.JPG

Birthday Panther happy on the summit of her 133th Corbett :D
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 150.JPG

We spent some 20 minutes on the top despite the cold, simply couldn't get enough of the winter wonderland. Garbh Bheinn is a fantastic viewpoint and the white topping on the hills just made the landscape more magical - like icing on the cake :D
Loch Eilde Mor and eastern Mamores:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 122.JPG

Western Mamores (Ben Nevis in cloud):
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 134.JPG

The iconic view west along Loch Leven:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 153.JPG

Lucy the Lamb posing on the top of her 55th Corbett:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 167.JPG

But it's Aonach Eagach that steals the show... We were mesmerized by the rough beauty of the knife-edge ridge, the dark bare rock contrasting with the virgin whiteness of fresh snow. Simply stunning:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 140.JPG

2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 141.JPG

Climbers on the AE ridge. There are always a few madmen about :wink:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 139.JPG

There are 3 cairns on the small summit area, Kevin of course had to check each one with his GPS and eventually passed his verdict on which one was the highest... Lucy didn't argue :wink:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 178.JPG

We snapped photos till our fingers went numb, then eventually started descending back to Loch Leven. We skipped the pinnacle by taking easier ground to the right (as we descended) and continued down past the line of snow, still admiring the grand views in front of us.
More Loch Leven reflections:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 180.JPG

To avoid the wet, waterlogged slopes on the northern end of Torran nan Crann, we dropped from the col at 400m straight into Gleann a'Chaolais, where we could see a stalkers track leading back to the road. The slope was steep-ish but nowhere near as wet as the initial path, mostly grassy. I'd recommend this detour as a safer option of descent in slippery conditions.
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 183.JPG

We reached the track just below the waterfall:
2017-11-05 garbh bheinn lochleven 188.JPG

Finally, it was easy if squelchy walk back to the road and the layby by the bridge :D Just short of five hours (including stops) of fantastic fun. Well, maybe apart from the squelchy trudge at the beginning, but it was a small price to pay for all the treats higher up :D
Fingers crossed weather holds for the following weekend. We'll be re-visiting Ben Tee and meowing all over Laggan :lol: :lol: :lol:
Last edited by BlackPanther on Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Postby rockhopper » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:42 pm

Certainly is a good hill for a winter's day :thumbup: Think I was lucky as most of the boggy sections were frozen over, just needed to watch and not slip. You got me thinking about the pinnacle - had a look back and saw that I'd avoided it, maybe due to the amount of snow banking round it - cheers :)
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Re: Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Postby Graeme D » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:54 pm

This gives me a real sense of deja-vu! Almost four years to the day since I did Garbh Bheinn with Old Danensian in almost exactly the same sort of conditions. :D
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Re: Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:12 pm

What a fabulous looking day!

Hopefully I'll get a week of similar conditions when I next get up there, hopefully Feb or March. After all, we've had similar good weather on at least 5 weeks of the 25 or more we've done in winter up there!!!! :lol:
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Re: Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:35 pm

Thanks everybody :D It was a superb day and happy to share the pleasures of our first wintry outing :D

Maybe "pinnacle" is an overstatement, it's more like a rocky outcrop, and yes it is very easy to avoid. I just liked the sound of the word :lol:
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Re: Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:04 pm

Wow! That looks great winter walk, I think we might wait until the bog is a frozen though :lol: Superb pictures.
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Re: Garbh Bheinn: winter season open!

Postby katyhills » Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:35 pm

Lovely jubbly :D
Enjoyed seeing those pix.

It's a great hill for autumn/winter time as it's not a long day, so no need for a mega early start on dark mornings!
I did it in January this year, on a glorious day. There was less snow than you had! Nice wee bit of scrambling, although you can avoid it if you don't fancy it, and cracking views too. Wh at's not to like :D
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