Walkhighlands meet - the less popular Glen Coe hills
by malky_c » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:53 pm
Munros included on this walk: Sgor na h-Ulaidh
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Maol Chaluim, Meall Lighiche
Grahams included on this walk: Meall Mor (Glencoe), Sgorr a'Choise
Date walked: 30/10/2010
Time taken: 9.5 hours
Distance: 23 km
Ascent: 2450mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Corbetts: Meall Lighiche, Beinn Maol Chaluim
Grahams: Meall Mor, Sgorr a' Choise
Date walked: 30/10/2010
Distance: 23 km
Time: 9 hours 30 minutes
Weather: On/off rain, hailstones, gusty wind, mainly in cloud.
This was the first time I'd ever met up with anyone on these forums, and was a great chance to put some names to usernames to faces! I travelled down on the Friday evening with Sanders, with the intention of camping at the Red Squirrel. The rain bucketed down the whole way, and I was very grateful to find there was a bunk free at the bunkhouse (due to a couple of people pulling out at the last minute and deciding to travel up on Saturday morning instead).
Saturday morning dawned better than expected, although having sampled a couple of the ales at the Clachaig, I felt slightly the worse for wear. Cuillin had been due to come down for the day and join me on the two Grahams, but had changed his mind after seeing the weather forecast (you made a good choice, as you'll see shortly!)
I set off from the bunkhouse at about 8:30, intending to use the footbridge near Signal Rock to the start of my route at the Gleann-leac-na-muidhe track. This was slightly frustrating, as Meall Mor (my first hill) was almost directly opposite the bunk house. Showing my usual rubbish navigation skills when confronted with forests, paths and fences, I turned off the old Glencoe road too soon, and was shortly crashing along the river bank with no sign of a path. I was right opposite the starting point here, so thought I'd use this mistake to my advantage by fording the River Coe. However, 2/3 of the way across, I was up to my waist in water with the most rapid section still to cross. I retreated fairly rapidly, glad there was no-one else around to see this act of stupidity!
I eventually picked up the path around signal rock, got to the bridge, then walked the half mile back down the A82 to get to the Gleann-leac-na-muidhe track. I left the track promptly to climb up the steep eastern slopes of Meall Mor. This made my head thump a bit, but it was exactly what I needed to shake off the beer of the previous night. The route was straightforward enough, but probably not so good for descent, as the gradient was relentless right to the summit plateau.
Looking up Glen Coe from the start of the ascent to Meall Mor:
Glen Coe again:
Back of Bidean, Beinn Maol Chaluim and Aonach Dubh a Ghlinne from Meall Mor:
The cloud moved in just before reaching the summit, and I had been hit by a short but heavy shower on the way up. I took a bearing and headed down to the col south of Meall Mor. This descent went on and on until I was below 400m again. At least it meant I was out of the cloud for a bit. I contoured Meall a Bhuige and headed for the sharp summit of Sgor a Choise.
Sgor a Choise:
Ballachulish and Tom Meadholin:
There was a surprisingly high deer fence across the ridge here, and as I was investigating how to climb over it, I heard a shout, and was pointed leftward to a hole in the fence by a figure descending the hill. When I got over to him,I discovered it was none other than Mountaineagle, who was doing a similar route to mine. We chatted briefly before carrying on, promising to meet up in the Clachaig later.
The rest of the ascent was steeper than I had expected. On the summit I was in the mist again, so I stopped for a quick bite hoping it would clear. It didn't until I left, at which point a quick break in the cloud had me running back up the last few meters to get some photos. Although I did manage, the cloud had partly moved back in before I got the camera out. Typical! Definitely want to revisit this one on a good day, as it is quite a rocky little peak.
Summit of Sgor a Choise:
Ballachulish from the summit:
From here it was down down down again, this time to 330m. It was becoming quite clear why this route had so much ascent in it! The col was very boggy, and there was some litter around (presumably left by whoever had put up the new deer fence on the forest boundary). I picked up a couple of things, but there was too much for me to carry. Messy buggers.
The climb up Meall Lighiche was steep and boggy, and about halfway up the hailstones started. They were probably only on for 20 minutes or so, but it felt like an eternity.
The back of Beinn a Bheithr from the ascent of Meall Lighiche:
At the summit I took a bearing and followed a line of fence posts and a faint path east. I almost went too far this way, as the path went over Creag Bhan and back down into the glen. Luckily I spotted some cliffs on my right and backtracked a few steps, finding the fence posts again. I was freezing at this point, so stopped to put a fleece and gloves on. Can't remember the last time I felt cold enough to need a fleece under my waterproof. Another steep descent (bit of a theme here) and I was at the Bealach Easan. Due to the hailstones and feeling rather cold, I have no real recollection of what Meall Lighiche actually looked like.
Looking up to Sgurr na h-Ualaidh from the Bealach:
I could have knocked the walk on the head at this point, but it was only lunchtime, so I thought I'd carry on some more. One of the handiest things about the route was the chance to escape to the glen after each hill. I knew I could get of Sgurr na h-Ualaidh easily enough if I didn't fancy doing Beinn Maol Chaluim.
I'm pretty sure there is a path up this flank of Sgurr na h-Ualaidh, as I vaguely remember coming down it years ago. Couldn't see it though so I just went straight up the slopes of Corr na Beinne, zigzagging a bit to avoid outcrops. It was steep (really?). I eventually got to the summit of Sgurr na h-Ualaidh, where the wind was a bit fiercer. Still not the 50mph forecast though, so that was something to be grateful for.
Looking across Vixen Gully on the summit of Sgurr na h-Ualaidh:
I've done most of the Munros around Glen Coe multiple times, but Sgurr na h-Ualaidh only once before, when I was 14. I'd been with my dad then, and have vague memories of it being warm and sunny. Bit of a shame to ruin those memories! The next section had one of those lovely Munro phenomena - a path. I able to switch off for a bit and not worry about which way to go. There was even the odd break in the cloud, although it usually closed up before I could get my camera out.
I decided to carry on to Beinn Maol Chaluim. The ridge down from Stob an Fhuarain was really entertaining and quite fierce looking. No sustained scrambling as such, but lots of places where you had to lower yourself down small bands of crag. Again, it was a long way down. With the cloud clearing occasionally, I could see the crags blocking the way to Beinn Maol Chaluim. A couple of recent reports have mentioned the best way to skirt these, but I couldn't remember what they said. I thought I could see a scrambly route up the right hand side.
Beinn Maol Chaluim from Stob an Fhuarain:
Usually, the closer you get to these things, the more the route unravels itself. In this case, the closer I got,the more vertical, drippy and horrible the crag looked. It was clear I wouldn't be scrambling anywhere on it. Instead I opted for a contouring traverse to the north, to gain the north ridge. This took ages. While the distance and height gain were fairly moderate, everything (rocks, grass, scree) was just so greasy and slippy. I don't ever recall a time when I've had to put so much effort into not sliding onto my arse!
East ridge of Stob an Fhuarain:
Eventually I was on the ridge, from where it was a simple 10 minute walk to the summit. No views again, as the cloud came back down, and the rain was on again. I retraced my route down the N ridge.
Potentially Bidean was the final summit in this round, but that was just a pipe dream. Maybe if I'd had daylight to spare and the weather had been good I'd have included it, but as it was, there was no way I was going up there. I dropped into Coire Garbh on the west side of the ridge and followed the Fionn Gleann downwards. This was quite impressive, with Coire nan Cnaimh being very rocky, and the river going into rapids in places.
Coire nan Cnaimh, Stob an Fhuarain:
Lower down there were a couple of places where an awkward traverse had to be made above the river, but on the whole, the valley was OK to follow. Maybe it was boggy in places, but I was so wet by this point I couldn't really tell! Once I was out of the confines of the valley, I made a break for the A82, hitting it fairly close to the footbridge. On the way back I managed to find the correct path, and was kindly picked up by Mountaineagle (who happened to be passing), a short distance short of the bunkhouse.
A pretty tough day in the end, which was enjoyable in a strangely masochistic sort of way. Having had a run of good days out over the last couple of months, I was due some of this sort of weather eventually, and was quite pleased to have managed to get out anyway. The whole thing left me with a satisfied feeling that meant I didn't feel the need to walk anywhere on the Sunday (another night in the Clachaig may well have assisted that feeling as well )
As for the rest of the weekend, it was a hoot. It was great to meet everyone after reading so many reports on here, and a good change to the usual daytrips I seem to do. A big thanks to Stretch for making it all happen, Sanders for giving me a lift down and to eveyrone for being good craic.
by Merry-walker » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:16 pm
all on a hang over too
by skuk007 » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:45 pm
by mountainstar » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:22 pm
Good to meet you, even though you're too good at the Welsh pictures etc.
by HighlandSC » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:41 pm
I did stop and eye up Meall Mor this morning...
...but never went for it. I blame lack of time, but sore legs and a post-clachaig head were factors! Ended up stopping at various points in Glen Coe and Etive for short wandering and photography. (and along the way stopped referring to my phone (correct time) and used the car clock (still an hour ahead! )
by Cuillin » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:55 pm
The cloud base didn't look too bad but I thought this said it all:
malky_c wrote:Due to the hailstones and feeling rather cold, I have no real recollection of what Meall Lighiche actually looked like.
Really sorry to duck out of the meet but hope to come along to the next one.
by Stretch » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:18 pm
by malky_c » Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:45 pm
Cuillin - I have to admit that when I set out, I didn't think I'd get that far round. You'll have to let me know when you do these, as I'd like to do Sgor a Choise in particular again in better conditions and at a more leisurely pace. As for the SAS, I doubt they'd be so stupid as to try wading the river to save a few minutes . Cloud base varied.It came down on Meall Lighiche, which combined with the hailstones made it rather forgettable.
by kinley » Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:54 pm
As for river wading
Great to get a chance to catch up face to face. Enjoyed our conversation