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Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Breaking trail on Binnein Mor


Postby dav2930 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:30 pm

Route description: Binnein Mor and Na Gruagaichean, Mamores

Munros included on this walk: Binnein Mor, Na Gruagaichean

Date walked: 31/01/2019

Time taken: 10.75 hours

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 1711m

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Our day on Ben Lui had brought Karl and myself late back to the Corran Bunkhouse where we were staying. We didn't relish preparing for an early start the next morning, but, on the other hand, the forecast was quite good and we didn't want to miss an opportunity. As it turned out, it was sleeting quite heavily, so we used this as a convenient excuse to have a rest day :wink: We went to Ballachulish for coffee and cakes, then on to the Ice Factor at Kinlochleven, where we amused ourselves on the climbing wall, consumed copious mugs of tea, and checked out the forecast for Thursday 31st. The staff at the desk helpfully offered to print out an update for us. We could hardly believe our eyes as we scanned it: no precipitation, 20 - 25 mph winds on summits, 90% chance of cloud-free Munros! :o Couldn't ask for better than that. However, with a considerable build-up of fresh snow, we knew that whatever we did was going to be hard work. Our safest bet, and best chance of getting anywhere, would be to keep to the ridges as much as possible, so we decided on the Mamores - Binnean Mor and Na Gruagaichean, starting from Kinlochleven. We may well be defeated by the sheer exhaustion of endless wading, but given the forecast, it was worth giving it a go.

Next morning we were up at 6.00. Quick breakfast while the car defrosted and we were off to Kinlochleven again, just a short drive away. We parked at the MacDonald Hotel and set off walking by 7.40. The sky was virtually cloudless, but surprisingly there was a brisk breeze. Our chosen approach, up the West Highland Way then along the road to Mamore Lodge, was a bit counter-intuitive, since it begins in the wrong direction and is a lot longer than the path leading directly towards Loch Eilde Mor. But from previous experience we knew the latter to be badly eroded and a bit of a slog. Whether our circuitous evasion was worth it remains a moot point, I guess. Anyway, the snow on the Lodge road had been compacted by the passage of vehicles, and two or three 4x4's passed us as we walked along. The rosy glow of the morning sun began to creep onto the mountain tops.

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Morning sun on Am Bodach


Eventually all the vehicle tracks stopped and we ploughed our way through the virgin snow, following the line of the buried road. At the high point of the road, the path to Coire an Lochain and the eastern Mamores goes off the left. We were looking out for it, but of course it was nowhere to be seen under the thick blanket of snow, and the only footprints to be seen were our own. So we forged our own route. This was where the hard work started!

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Deep snow leading to Sgor Eilde Beag


We were glad when we reached the burn, as the path on the far side of it was visible, as was the distinctive diagonal rise to the shoulder of Sgor Eilde Beag beyond it. The going was least arduous on the wind-blown raised parts, where the underlying vegetation poked through. Elsewhere we were wading up to our thighs. It was slow, hard going.

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At the Allt Coire nan Laogh, looking south to Buachaille Etive Mor.


But the views were so breathtaking that the effort hardly seemed to matter.

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Loch Eilde Mor and Rannoch Moor


Eventually we reached the end of the rising traverse path and it was time to hit the steep slopes of Sgor Eilde Beag. The steepness made for even harder work. It was certainly a relief when the gradient eased off and we reached the top. And again, the views made it all worthwhile.

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Sgurr Eilde Mor from Sgor Eilde Beag


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South-east from Sgor Eilde Beag


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Karl on Sgor Eilde Beag, the Glencoe peaks behind.


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Zoom in on Glencoe peaks


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Na Gruagaichean


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Buachaille Etive Mor and the Black Mount


It was realtively easy going from Sgor Eilde Beag to the south top Binnein Mor, which we reached at about 12.40pm. The views now opened out to the north.

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Ben Nevis from the south top of Binnein Mor


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Binnein Mor from the south top


We left our rucksacks by the cairn on the south top and headed out along the splendid, corniced ridge to Binnein Mor's summit - Karl's 50th Munro. The ridge was too beautiful, interesting and exhilarating to feel like hard work.

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BM south top and the ridge to Na Gruagaichean, from summit of Binnein Mor


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Sgurr Eilde Mor from Binnein Mor


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Binnein Beag and the Grey Corries, from Binnein Mor


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The summit ridge of Binnean Mor, looking north


After taking in the incomparable views we followed our own footprints back along the ridge to the south top, where our rucksacks were waiting for us.

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Ring of Steall


Our next priority was to stop for food and drink. We thought we might find a sheltered spot along the ridge a bit, but the best we could find was in the shade and not very sheltered; with hindsight we'd have been better off stopping at the south top. Not to worry. We had a good view of the ridge up to Na Gruagaichean, and thought it looked narrow and exposed enough to warrant getting our ice axes out - an axe and a pole seemed the best idea.

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The ridge to Na Gruagaichean


The snow on the ridge was incredibly deep and we sank well up to our thighs. Plunging the shafts of the axes as far down as they would go gave some security, while the poles added a bit of stability. It was very slow, exhausting work, but satisfying too. It was past 3.00pm by the time we reached the summit.

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Binnein Mor from summit of Na Gruagaichean


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NW top of Na Gruagaichean from summit


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Coire a' Bhodaich


The descent to col between the two tops was quite steep, with loose snow on slabby rocks. An awkward and fairly exposed bit near the bottom had us donning our Microspikes. The climb up the other side was quite steep too!

When we reached the NW top, the sun was sinking behind the mountains and the shadows gathering in the corries. We began the descent of the easy west ridge, heading towards the sunset.

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Sun setting behind Am Bodach


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Alpenglow on the Grey Corries


From the col we followed the line of the stalker's path, visible under the snow, which cut back sharply into the depths of the corrie. Probably it would have made more sense to have taken a more direct line down into the head of the valley, but we rather slavishly followed the snow-filled path, even when it began rising. The snow here was deeper than ever, a real wading job, which of course was very time-consuming. By the time we got down to the floor of the corrie, the light was fading fast. Fortunately the high albedo of snow meant we could see well enough to get ourselves down to the path in the floor of the valley - though by a much steeper route than we ought to have taken.

Eventually a wooden barn-type structure emerged out of the gloom, signalling the gate that led to the road we'd walked up. Full circle.

Back at the Hotel we had a chat with our mate behind the bar and ordered veggie haggis, neaps and tatties and a Dark Matter rum each, all of which went down remarkably well. We were both knackered, but well pleased with a long and superb day. :D


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dav2930
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby mamoset » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:46 pm

It looks so impressive with a full snow covering, and your pics do it justice dav, nice 1 8)
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:48 pm

Amazing photos of wintery hills - down here in Strathearn theres'no real sign of winter at all :lol:
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby ScotFinn65 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:50 am

Amazing pictures. Thanks for taking the time to write it up and share such beautiful pictures.
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby dav2930 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:32 pm

mamoset wrote:It looks so impressive with a full snow covering, and your pics do it justice dav, nice 1 8)

Thanks mamoset, very kind of you. Have to say that I've rarely seen it like that - really magical. Can't claim much credit for the pics - I just aimed the camera and pressed the shutter button! :lol:

past my sell by date wrote:Amazing photos of wintery hills - down here in Strathearn theres'no real sign of winter at all :lol:

Thanks Tony. They were amazing conditions. Seems incredible that, not so very far away, you missed out on all that white stuff! :)

ScotFinn65 wrote:Amazing pictures. Thanks for taking the time to write it up and share such beautiful pictures.

Thank you Scot for your kind comments. It was a pleasure to write the report and if the pics give pleasure to others then I'm well rewarded! :)
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby rockhopper » Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:02 pm

Superb :thumbup: So much better than your Ben Lui day, conditions like this make trips worthwhile - cheers :)
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby dav2930 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:55 pm

rockhopper wrote:Superb :thumbup: So much better than your Ben Lui day, conditions like this make trips worthwhile - cheers :)

Thanks RH. Yes indeed, this day alone made the whole trip worthwhile. The effort involved will only keep it etched in my memory all the more. :)
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dav2930
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby Graeme D » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:22 pm

Stunning - especially the shot of Sgurr Eilde Mor from Sgurr Eilde Beag, 8)
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:48 pm

Your report reminds me of the time I sat on the south peak of Binnein Mor, with the ridge to Na Gruadaichean clear but the one to the Main peak in mist. after a short stop we headed towards the former. It was only on the descent beyond that I felt something was wrong, got out the compass and found we we headed due North :( . The mist had switched ridges while we ate. :lol: It was a long way back :( I'm sure I'm not the only one to have made a similar mistake :lol: They say that when you reach a peak you should put down a pole pointing in the direction you want to continue. it's VERY good advice :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby dav2930 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:39 pm

Graeme D wrote:Stunning - especially the shot of Sgurr Eilde Mor from Sgurr Eilde Beag, 8)

Thanks Graeme. I think that one's probably my favourite of the bunch too. :)

past my sell by date wrote:Your report reminds me of the time I sat on the south peak of Binnein Mor, with the ridge to Na Gruadaichean clear but the one to the Main peak in mist. after a short stop we headed towards the former. It was only on the descent beyond that I felt something was wrong, got out the compass and found we we headed due North :( . The mist had switched ridges while we ate. :lol: It was a long way back :( I'm sure I'm not the only one to have made a similar mistake :lol: They say that when you reach a peak you should put down a pole pointing in the direction you want to continue. it's VERY good advice :lol: :lol: :lol:

It's amazing how easily mistakes like that can be made - you wouldn't think it possible, would you, 'till it actually happens! A similar thing happened to me once on Striding Edge, of all places. It was a misty day and I sat down for lunch on a sheltered ledge about half way along. When I set off again, instead of continuing in the same direction, as intended, I somehow managed to set off back the way I'd come, encountering several parties coming the other way. It wasn't till I got nearly to the end of the edge that it dawned on me what I'd done. How could I have been such an idiot?, I asked myself as I turned around and retraced my steps (again), keeping a respectful distance behind the others to avoid the embarrassment of having to explain why I'd been going in the opposite direction. The pole idea is EXCELLENT advice! :lol:
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:38 pm

"incomparable views" - well beyond any adjectives. My CEO asked, "What are you grinning at?" and that was just your photos. What it must have been like in reality... :D :shock: :D

Not a bit jealous, since we had to call off our long-planned trip to Glen Shiel due to a health issue in one of our numbers' family...
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Re: Breaking trail on Binnein Mor

Postby dav2930 » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:44 pm

Alteknacker wrote:"incomparable views" - well beyond any adjectives. My CEO asked, "What are you grinning at?" and that was just your photos. What it must have been like in reality... :D :shock: :D

Not a bit jealous, since we had to call off our long-planned trip to Glen Shiel due to a health issue in one of our numbers' family...

Thanks AK! Nice to think the pics brought a smile to your face, that's made my day! :D
Sorry to hear you had to call off the Glen Shiel trip - that must have been disappointing. Hope the health issue for the person concerned isn't too serious.
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