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Beinn Heasgarnich

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:08 am
by yokehead

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This hill is usually climbed in a circuit along with Creag Mhor. However, I like Glen Lochay and on previous visits I’ve thought that Ben Challum looks like a good proposition from this side so I decided that one day I’ll climb Creag Mhor followed by Ben Challum to give a different sort of an outing. Today then, Beinn Heasgarnich was a single Munro expedition for me and a longer lie in before I set out!

The weather looked promising with early mist and blue skies showing from time to time and I was hopeful for a repeat of the weather yesterday. I drove up the high road after Kenknock Farm that heads to Glen Lyon and parked just off the track that leads to the top of the pipeline and onwards down Glen Lochay (as described in the walkhighlands route). I had planned my route as a clockwise circuit so headed out along the track down the glen. The bright start to the weather didn’t last, grey clouds had come in and I’d only been going for 15 or 20 minutes when there was a shower of rain so I was expecting a claggy navigation exercise to come. I met a walker coming the other way, he’d set out along the glen on the lower track and decided to cut short his day when the weather worsened. As he put it, he ‘didn’t fancy walking off a cliff’, it looked like he was travelling light so maybe a good decision at the time but he might have been kicking himself later... After about 3.5km of fast progress on the track my route was to turn north west for a direct line to Stob an Fhir-Bhogha at the southern end of the Heasgarnich plateau.

leave the track & head for the skyline

So at the small dam on the Allt Badour I left the track to follow the west side of the burn initially using sheep tracks to climb up through the small gorge. The slope was gentle at first and there was a steeper section in view with the lip to a plateau at around 700m, it was typical Scottish mixed ground with wet patches but nothing really unpleasant. I headed for the point where a stream flowed over the lip and where there was a bit of snow, a magnet as usual. Next to the stream there was a small crag and at the base of it I found yet another sheltered made to measure seat for a bite, hungry again. Whilst I ate, the cloud base, which had been just above me, started to lift and break up and by the time I’d finished my indulgent 30 minute break the change was remarkable. Blue skies were appearing but better yet, air clarity was much better than the haze of yesterday. A well-timed stop it turned out to be with the weather superb for the rest of the day.

plateau lip, stream and lunchtime crag

A mini bit of snow climbing took me up onto the plateau where I went to look at the stream as it went over the edge, not a dramatic affair but nice all the same.

stream flowing into Glen Lochay

There was a blustery wind here. The view to Creag Mhor and Ben Challum opened up and I was keen to see the snow situation on the east face of Creag Mhor for a future excursion. My target of the Stob was also visible now and I was pleased to see some good patches of snow awaiting me. I set out for the summit using a snow covered line where possible and even found a couple of short steeper sections amongst the crags, there’s always something if you look for it. As I climbed, my great friends the Crianlarich hills became visible once again and I could see where I’d travelled on them.

Ben Challum, Creag Mhor, Stob an Fhir-Bhogha

Crianlarich mountains

snow slope

I reached the summit of the Stob after a satisfying final 200m climb and looked along the ridge to Heasgarnich.

Heasgarnich ridge

The wind was quite a bit stronger here so after some hasty photos I set out; there were still large snow banks on the ridge. It was just over 1km to the cairn with wonderful views of the mountains in all directions and with the wind blasting me quite hard from the left.

Bridge of Orchy mountains

yesterday's hills Sgiath Chuil & Meall Glas

Meall Ghaordaidh left, Tarmachan & Lawers in distance

After another few photos I carried on a bit from the cairn to have a look at the north corrie, Coire Heasgarnich; it is quite magnificent with views down to upper Loch Lyon with the Bridge Of Orchy Munros beyond. The corrie headwall is actually quite steep and looks like it would make a good snow climb, there was a large unstable-looking cornice however. Also a place to be wary of in mist, the snow slope here is gentle but quickly steepens and a slide would be hard to arrest. The ridges around the corrie look good too, one day a walk in to summit Heasgarnich from the Glen Lyon side would be a good wheeze I suspect; there’s just so much scope.

Heasgarnich north corrie, Loch Lyon & Beinn a'Chreachain

Not wanting to slide into the corrie, I headed back along the ridge a bit before turning to the east on the return leg of the journey. Looking down into Coire Ban Mor I was chuffed to see a ton of snow awaiting my pleasure and even a partially frozen lochan. At the edge of the small plateau I could see a group of skiers well below me who were joining up the snow patches in their descent, not bad when this snow had fallen 2 weeks ago. From here there was a wonderful snow gully to heel plunge down, the snow not being quite hard enough for crampons. After this I kept to the snow for as long as possible, watching and listening for hidden burns.

looking back up the descent route

This bit of fun led me most of the way to Creag na h Achlarich, instead of skirting it completely I crossed it at the northern end giving a short section of enjoyable steep ground to descend toward the east.

descent fun

The terrain now consisted of pools, bog and peat hags as I made a direct a line back to the car.


After the route finding through the bog there was a short ascent before I started to descend the slopes that led me to the track just west of where I’d parked, looking at the sunset colours along Glen Lochay.

Glen Lochay sunset

Re: Beinn Heasgarnich

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:28 am
by cjwaugh
Another nice report Yokehead :)

Re: Beinn Heasgarnich

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:13 am
by maddjock
how are you going to get through the summer once the snow melts completely... :lol:

Re: Beinn Heasgarnich

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:29 pm
by yokehead
Yes I have considered this, some people only walk in summer but I may end up being a winter only walker if I'm disappointed with summer conditions. Sun, warm breeze, no coat? uuuuurrrggghhh! :lol: :lol: