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Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui

Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui


Postby dav2930 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:28 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Lui

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

Date walked: 27/01/2019

Time taken: 14.8 hours

Distance: 26.9 km

Ascent: 2124m

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1. 27/01/2019 Garbh Bheinn from Loch Leven
6km, 815m, 5 hours

Driving up from Cumbria on Saturday 26th January, the South and West Highlands, as far as the scudding clouds and drifting rain allowed us to see them, were looking unusually bereft of snow for the time of year. This was especially disappointing in view of the white covering that the Lakeland fells had received only a day or two before. Even in the high corries of the Black Mount, as we crossed Rannoch Moor, there was hardly any snow to be seen.

The forecast for Sunday was for brighter spells between showers and turning colder, though rather windy - gusts up to 60mph on the summits. Also a chance of some snowfall overnight: all well and good, but new snow meant unconsolidated snow - either just a pretty sprinkling like icing-sugar, or, if of any depth, stuff that you walk in rather than on.

When morning came the rain was lashing against the window of the Corran Bunkhouse, so we were in no hurry to get ready for the off. Eventually, after a leisurely breakfast, we decided to drive to Glen Coe village then along the south shore of Loch Leven to see how things looked. If it was awful then we'd continue to Kinlochleven and spend the day in the Ice Factor; but if it didn't look too bad then we might just have a wander up Garbh Bheinn, a fine looking Corbett that neither Karl or I had been up before.

It was getting on for 10.00am by the time we reached the small parking area by the bridge over the Allt Gleann a' Chaolais, but there were some patches of blue sky and a few of the surrounding tops were visible. So we got kitted out and headed up the track.

P1010422.JPG
Starting up the lower slopes of Garbh Bheinn


We ignored the cairn marking a boggy track up to the ridge, instead following the main track in the glen for a while before striking left up the slopes to meet a neat track which led between the crags onto the ridge.

P1010428.JPG
Am Bodach, Stob Coire a' Chairn and na Gruagaichean


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Pap of Glencoe from the ridge


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Shapely hill ahead, summit hidden


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Beinn na Caillich across Loch Leven


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The Pap


As we began ascending the steep higher slopes, following a good zig-zag path often filled with powdery snow, the wind became ever stronger, stopping us in our tracks at times. The views back down Loch Leven were amazing.

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Aonach Eagach


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View down the ridge to Loch Leven


There wasn't much in the way of shelter on the summit, so after taking in the views and a few photos, we headed back down.

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Mamores from summit of Garbh Bheinn


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Aonach Eagach from summit


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Starting the descent


The little hollow between the summit and the lower top was quite sheltered, so we stopped for a bite and some coffee before continuing down the ridge and back to the car. It was easier going down as the wind had abated somewhat. An excellent hill for a short day!

The forecast for the next day (Monday) was for gentler winds but prolonged snow showers and extensive whiteouts, so we decided to head for Fort William. As it turned out the weather was beautiful until about 2.30pm, when the hills disappeared under a blanket of snow-filled cloud.



2. 29/01/2019 Ben Lui from Tyndrum
20.9km, 1309m, 9.8 hours

A lot more snow had fallen overnight. The forecast was for heavy snow showers, but also some bright spells and only light winds. We decided to drive down to Tyndrum and have a look at Ben Lui. We were up at 6.00am and, after clearing the car of frost and snow, off by about 7.15 (a bit late really). The drive down took longer than anticipated as the snow ploughs and gritters had been struggling to keep the road over Rannoch Moor clear. We parked at the Green Welly and set off walking by 8.40 - rather later than we'd have liked. The snow-laden cloud base was very low, but at least there was no wind, and the landscape was a veritable winter wonderland!

P1010440.JPG
Winter wonderland on the path to Tyndrum Lower Station


We crossed the railway at the lower station and headed up through the plantations to Glen Cononish. The view of Ben Lui was obscured by low cloud. Conditions were relatively benign, but it didn't look very inviting to be honest.

P1010441.JPG
Ben Lui disappearing into the snow-clouds, from Glen Cononish


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Looking back down the glen


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Beinn Oss


When we reached the river crossing we were tempted to turn back. Was it worth negotiating the snow-covered stepping stones if, in all likelihood, we'd be crossing back over again before long? We decided to carry on, just in case things improved and for want of anything better to do.

P1010444.JPG
The burn issuing from Coire Gaothach


As luck would have it, just as we entered the corrie the cloud began to lift from Ben Lui. Most encouraging!

P1010445.JPG
Entering Coire Gaothach, cloud clearing off Ben Lui


Despite all the fresh snow, the Central Gully was looking lean, and the fact that the snow was so fresh meant it was too soft for good climbing. So we settled for the NE ridge.

P1010446.JPG
Back down Glen Cononish towards Tyndrum


In the back of the corrie at the foot of the straightforward slope leading up to the NE ridge, we put our poles away and got our axes out, put on wind-proofs and donned crampons. With the snow being so soft and powdery, it was debatable whether crampons were a help or a hindrance. It was certainly awkward underfoot going up the steep slope, but on the ridge above, the extra security of crampons outweighed the slight awkwardness.

P1010447.JPG
Karl on the north-east ridge


As the ground steepened towards the summit, the rocks were encrusted in ice, so we were glad to have our crampons on.

P1010449.JPG
Looking up the final slopes of the NE ridge to the summit


The cairn on the north top was suddenly reached and the sun was shining through the mist. It was a good moment, but unfortunately short-lived, for by the time we reached the summit the mist had closed in again.

P1010450.JPG
On the summit, looking back to the north top


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Karl on the summit


We wasted rather too much time wondering whether or not to take in Beinn a' Chleibh. This was my fault, as I hadn't been up B a' C yet so was keen to bag it. As we made a tentative foray down towards the col, the mist darkened and it began to snow. The time was getting on, so we decided to give it a miss and head straight down Lui's SE ridge. From the col we dropped into Coire Laoigh and stopped for some sustenance in a heavy snow shower. We then began the long, tortuous haul down the valley back to the river crossing.

P1010452.JPG
Looking back to Ben Lui as the cloud clears at twighlight


By the time we hit the landrover track down to Cononish it was getting dark, but we were on safe ground so were able to enjoy the emerging constellations in a clear night sky. We noticed what appeared to be a few tight clusters of twinkling stars which were too clear and discrete to be distant galaxies, so, as in the nursery rhyme, we wondered what they were :lol: We threw around a few predictable conjectures, like alien spacecraft, until finally settling for the theory that they were single stars, the light from which was being refracted by the atmosphere or ice crystals to appear as several stars. But we had little clue really, and were content just to speculate on the mystery of things. :think:


Before we knew it we were at Cononish and then keeping our eyes peeled for the gate to the Tyndrum track on the left. To preserve our night vision we resisted using our head torches, until I tried to take a photo of the stars, failing miserably, and needed some illumination to get the camera back in its case :roll:

It was getting on for 7.30pm by the time we reached the car, which needed clearing of snow and frost. Another slow drive over Rannoch Moor ensued and when we finally arrived back at the bunkhouse it was about 9.30. A long day, then, but worth every minute.


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dav2930
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Re: Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui

Postby mamoset » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:49 pm

Slightly different conditions to the sweltering heat i encountered on Ben Lui last year :lol: but still looks like you enjoyed it :clap:
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Re: Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:07 am

Given the weather prognosis, it looks like you got pretty reasonable conditions!! Hope we get as good in Glen Shiel next week.

Isn't the view of Aonach Eagach inspiring from the north side???
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Re: Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:08 am

Given the weather prognosis, it looks like you got pretty reasonable conditions!! Hope we get as good in Glen Shiel next week.

Isn't the view of Aonach Eagach inspiring from the north side???
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Re: Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui

Postby dav2930 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:06 pm

mamoset wrote:Slightly different conditions to the sweltering heat i encountered on Ben Lui last year :lol: but still looks like you enjoyed it :clap:


Hi mamoset. It was undoubtedly more comfortable than sweltering heat! Shame we missed the summit views, but it was good to get up there and we had a great day. Better than mooching about the tea shops/pubs! :)

Alteknacker wrote:Given the weather prognosis, it looks like you got pretty reasonable conditions!! Hope we get as good in Glen Shiel next week.

Isn't the view of Aonach Eagach inspiring from the north side???

Hi AK. Yep, it could have been a lot worse! In fact on Ben Lui it was really quite pleasant. On Garbh Bheinn we were having a good look at Aonach Eagach - inspiring as you say, and tantalising! Hope you get some decent conditions for your Glen Shiel trip - all the best mate. :)
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dav2930
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Re: Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui

Postby rockhopper » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:00 pm

Challenging conditions but a decent result in the end for your trip up north :thumbup: Going up Garbh Bheinn, the views backwards are good as they open up the higher you get - cheers :)
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Re: Garbh Bheinn / Ben Lui

Postby dav2930 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:43 pm

rockhopper wrote:Challenging conditions but a decent result in the end for your trip up north :thumbup: Going up Garbh Bheinn, the views backwards are good as they open up the higher you get - cheers :)

Hi RH and thanks. I've seriously neglected the Corbetts; Garbh Bheinn felt every bit as big as a Munro and showed what I've been missing! :)
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dav2930
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