walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic

Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic


Postby simcc » Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:29 am

Route description: The Ring of Steall, Mamores

Munros included on this walk: An Gearanach, Binnein Beag, Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean, Sgurr Eilde Mor, Stob Coire a'Chairn

Date walked: 22/04/2018

Time taken: 12 hours

Distance: 25 km

Ascent: 2300m

14 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

This will be my first walk report on here, while I been around for quite a bit. But I felt taking on one of my Munro-bucket list warranted a report.

The Mamores! They’ve been on the list for a bit, so as I had the opportunity to come over (I live in The Netherlands btw) for work earlier this week, I thought this would be a good chance to add a couple of days to the itinerary and enjoy these glorious hills. The forecast throughout the week had shown positive Celsius temperatures on the summits, so it seemed that winter was passing and I was hoping enough snow would melt to be able to give this a good early summer season go. The plan was to get up to Kinlochleven by 2-3 PM and do the lot in a day and a half. Now I know some crazy folk out there try and do the whole ridge in a day (a very long day). But I didn’t fancy the pain and conditions were forecasted to be mixed (both weather and ground). So, a day and a half it was going to be.

I flew into Edinburgh on Saturday morning nicely on time, but then had a horrendous wait at the car hire (well over an hour). Also, picking up supplies took longer than expected. This all led to me getting into Kinlochleven not much before 5 PM. But seeing as Saturday was showing Scotland to be able to be a place of sunshine, I wasn’t going to let this deter me. So off I set determined to walk until sun down and make the most of the good weather (and also reduce the distance for day 2).
So off I went…

Some great views back over Loch Leven on the way up.
IMG_20180421_173705415_HDR.jpg


Coming up to Coire an Lochain, the first major snow remains could be seen close up, with the Lochan still covered in ice and snow.
IMG_20180421_185428069.jpg


So, passed that all and headed up to Sgurr Eilde Mor. Great views to be had there, especially of my next target, Binein Beag.
IMG_20180421_193857944.jpg

IMG_20180421_193949475.jpg

IMG_20180421_194018018_HDR.jpg


By this time, it was already getting pretty late and I was constantly trying to guess how far I could get in the remaining light. At this point I thought the top of Binnein Beag by 8:30 PM could be doable.
As I passed the Lochan at the foot of Binnein Beag, I dumped my pack before heading up, this was to be my overnight camp location. Finally got to the top of Binnein Beag about nine-ish. A bit of a stoney slog, but good all the same. The sun had already gone and going back down, it was getting pretty dark.
IMG_20180421_211745739.jpg

IMG_20180421_211835023.jpg


Then time to set up camp, refuel and get to bed… finally at about 11 PM I was ready to sleep.
IMG_20180422_073050406_HDR.jpg

IMG_20180422_074203888.jpg


The next day started at 7 AM in good spirits. The weather was still not bad, but I knew worse was forecasted. Set out at 8:15-ish and almost directly met one of the only people I was to see all day. A chap heading up to bag a single Munro that he was missing: Binnein Beag.
IMG_20180422_085347896.jpg


I pondered the best route up the North side of Binnein Mor, as the gully was all filled with snow, as so was much of the rest of it. I finally settled on a route from the East. Half way up I realised to my annoyance and disbelief that I had forgotten to fill up my water bottles… how stupid can you be!? I was heading for the stream when I met the chap lower down, and after the nice chat, had forgotten that I was en route to water. Luckily, I found a waterfall further along, and filled my water up at the top of that… a pretty cool place. But I was relieved, because I was high enough that there were no surface streams any more.
IMG_20180422_084645693.jpg
waterfall


So, on and upwards to Binnein Mor. Before long I had my head in the clouds and the drizzle had set in. Visibility was very poor, often below 50 metres. The ridge was still pretty snowy for long sections. I actually missed the top in the heavy cloud cover and noticed about 30-50 metres later when I started to descend again against my expectations. A quick check on the GPS confirmed I had already ‘bagged’ it (I never use GPS to navigate, but I do like to sometimes confirm locations, esp in poor visibility).

IMG_20180422_094613632.jpg

The next section to Na Gruagaichean was more of the same: rain, sleet, wind, patchy snow and cold.

IMG_20180422_101104048.jpg

IMG_20180422_101720914.jpg


To Stob Coire a Chairn, again much the same, although less snow, which probably makes sense as it’s at a lower altitude and it’s the position in regard to the dominant winds and North.

By this time I was really hoping to bump into someone and felt a bit miserable. WHAT!? This never happens to me on mountains, even when I’m soaked through and tired, as I was now. I knew that the only thing keeping me warm was the fact I was moving and that movement was just about producing enough warmth to counteract the conditions.
IMG_20180422_115800896.jpg


Coming down off Stob Coire a Chairn towards An Gearanach, I spotted two people walking in the same direction a couple of hundred metres ahead of me. I saw them a few more times, but after An Gearanch, they proceeded North to Glen Nevis, while I turned back.
Over to An Gearanach (and the top An Garbhanach) is where things started falling apart (although the conditions had already started that earlier). The scramble on the way there was fine and enjoyable. BUT, by the time I hit the summit I was cold… The pace of movement cant be sustained when scrambling and I wasn’t producing enough warmth any more. Heading southward again, back to the main ridge, I realised that I was in that area before one gets in trouble. I was soaked through, had just changed into a spare set of clothes, but the weather was doing its best to soak these too. I was on my last pair of spare gloves, and was starting to move less well. I noticed this on the scramble back down.

This was the point when I decided that it was time to be sensible and put ‘emergency plan A’ into effect: find the quickest way off the ridge and back to the car. I was adamant I wasn’t going to be a mountain rescue call-out victim, just because I still had to tag some more hills (which I probably couldn’t make by sun down anyway, due to the slow going as navigation in the sometimes dense cloud was taking longer). It was about 1 PM by this time.

I decended South by Allt Coire na Ba, and between two and three hours later reached the car park again (4 PM-ish). On the way down, as I exited the cloud and things got warmer, you find yourself questioning the necessity to ‘cop out’. But I kept reminding myself of the conditions higher up and forced head over heart that I had made the right decision. As the saying goes: the hills will always be there another day.

A little later I also realised that this could be a blessing in disguise, as when I do return, I will hopefully be able to enjoying the views! :wink:


PS: if anyone happens to find a black & yellow buff on Meall Ghaordaidh, it’s mine! ;). I lost it the day after.
Attachments

apr2018.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

simcc
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 52
Munros:96   Corbetts:1
Joined: Aug 10, 2015

Re: Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:20 am

Superb first day - just a pity about the weather on the second - it's such a visual treat when the weather is fair! Wonderful place you chose to camp - I noted this when I did the round in May last year. Nothing beats a night on the mountains in fair weather!

I also had lack-of-water troubles when I did the round - very easy to forget, and as you say, there's precious little water up on the ridge.

I'm sure you made the right decision to come off when you did: if one can't warm up when one's moving, I think that's definitely a warning sign. Also a good decision because it means you'll have to come back, hopefully when the weather's a bit better!

Interesting that you say you were eventually soaked through - wasn't your waterproof gear "waterproof"?
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 2692
Munros:167   Corbetts:29
Hewitts:205
Wainwrights:78   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

Re: Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic

Postby Phil the Hill » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:20 pm

Interesting contrast to when I was up there the summer before last and camped in Coire an Lochain.

Sounds like you made the right decision to bail out. The Mamores are always worth another visit.
User avatar
Phil the Hill
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 331
Munros:261   Corbetts:26
Grahams:5   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:137
Wainwrights:58   Islands:8
Joined: Sep 22, 2010
Location: Wallington, Surrey

Re: Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic

Postby the bearded wanderer » Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:58 pm

Sometimes you just need to know when to stop. Safety first. I attempted pretty much the same last July and only managed 4 leaving the Ring of Steall etc for another day. I camped in the exact same place and even in horrible weather it’s a fantastic spot. I had bad weather and equipment failures but was happy with my first proper wild camp. I wasn’t so happy with my trudge down Glen Nevis to get the bus home :lol:
the bearded wanderer
 
Posts: 7
Munros:54   Corbetts:1
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:4   
Islands:3
Joined: Jan 3, 2017

Re: Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic

Postby simcc » Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:32 pm

the bearded wanderer wrote:Sometimes you just need to know when to stop. Safety first. I attempted pretty much the same last July and only managed 4 leaving the Ring of Steall etc for another day. I camped in the exact same place and even in horrible weather it’s a fantastic spot. I had bad weather and equipment failures but was happy with my first proper wild camp. I wasn’t so happy with my trudge down Glen Nevis to get the bus home :lol:


It is indeed a fabulous place!
I considered coming up Glen Nevis, but in the end chose the approach from the South, as I believe Glen Nevis can get very boggy.

And indeed safety was my concern. I did find myself questioning if it was really necessary to pull out as I trudged down the glen. But when that pendulum of risk starts swinging, then it's often best not to wait to see where it stops, just in case. :wink:
simcc
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 52
Munros:96   Corbetts:1
Joined: Aug 10, 2015

Re: Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic

Postby the bearded wanderer » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:37 am

I got the bus and started from Kinlochleven and planned to do the ten over two days. Had to face reality very early when my backpack broke but had it all went to plan I wouldn’t have camped at that beautiful spot. So i guess it was meant to be.

Aborted a winter walk in February and on the route down everything cleared and doubted my decision - but as with yourself it was the right call at the time. The hills ain’t going nowhere
the bearded wanderer
 
Posts: 7
Munros:54   Corbetts:1
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:4   
Islands:3
Joined: Jan 3, 2017

Re: Mamores ridge: mixed fortunes & avoided an epic

Postby yokehead » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:28 pm

A grand report and you have described the atmosphere and your thoughts very well. For sure you made the correct decision in knowing when to stop, yes it is so easy to question it once you're down, warm and safe, but there's always another time and a reason to return!

I have a soft spot for Na Gruagaichean and even have its snowy atmospheric ridge as my screensaver, from a memorable trip a few years ago when I was fortunate in being able to gain its summit but had to abort my planned continuation to Binnein Mor. But I was there again last year and what a fine place this is.
User avatar
yokehead
 
Posts: 697
Munros:68   Corbetts:9
Grahams:1   
Hewitts:87
Wainwrights:23   
Joined: Nov 13, 2008

14 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: chasmcc, Heffalump777, martin.h, rockhopper, Sunset tripper and 27 guests