A wee twist on Beinns an Dothaidh and Dorain
by rockhopper » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:19 pm
Route description: Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh, Bridge of Orchy
Munros included on this walk: Beinn an Dothaidh, Beinn Dorain
Date walked: 19/12/2010
Time taken: 6.8 hours
Distance: 16 km
Ascent: 1376mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I had originally planned to go on Saturday but family commitments and Christmas haircuts got in the way. Fortunately, for once, I think the weather may have been better on the Sunday after all. With a lot of ice and poor weather warnings, I decided to allow longer for the drive up the A82. As it was, there was hardly any snow at the side of the road all the way from the start of Loch Lomond up to Bridge of Orchy. I had a pleasant, easy drive up listening to various Led Zep tracks and Mike Oldfield’s Ommadawn before arriving at the car park beside the Bridge of Orchy hotel. I didn’t really want to set off until just after 8am so had time for a short snooze before getting ready to go. There was snow in the car park which made me a bit worried about whether I could get up the slope to the road at the end of the day….but decided to meet that problem when I came to it. I can remember it being cold but not as bad as I was expecting.
I set off in the dim predawn gloom and headed up to the train station, which as usual was well lit, where I walked through the underpass, through the gate and up on to the track. In the distance, I could see my targets and it looked a fairly straightforward gentle uphill stretch for most of the way. On the way up, I met two other guys going the same way but further up they headed off in a SE direction as if towards the crags on Beinn Dorain. The path came and went in the light snow covering but it was usually fairly obvious as I headed East towards the bealach. The main problem was that the stones and loose rocks on the path were very slippy and icy – not so bad on the way up, but, as it turned out to be the case, a lot worse on the way down.
The gradient got steeper and I was slipping about a lot as I got further up and had to stop to put on my crampons just before I reached the bealach. Up to this point, the tube from my Camelbak water bladder was frozen despite being covered in insulated tubing – I tried to break up the ice in the tube but the bite valve then broke in two. Having no way to stop the water flowing if I had managed to de-ice it, I decided to leave it frozen and resorted to my flask of coffee – dehydration was less likely to be a problem in the cold weather (water bottles for sub zero in future ).
I got up to the bealach where I could see through to a rather frozen looking Loch Lyon and backwards to the hills on the other side of the A82. I had decided to walk up Beinn an Dothaidh first as I had a mind to come back down Beinn Dorain via Meall Garbh subject to the weather and having sufficient time. I had come up the track with almost no wind at all but on the exposed bealach it was now quite windy and cold so I headed off up NE to the right of the initial set of crags.
There wasn’t a lot of snow and I was only occasionally knee deep in some drifts. Occasionally the wind would gust and I’d get clouds of snow whipping across my face (maybe spindrift ?). Other than that, it was a straightforward walk up to the near the top. However, just then the wind whipped up strongly and I was finding it harder to see so decided to head straight for the main summit. Then, just as quickly as it started, it stopped and I could see clearly again – I changed direction and headed for the 1,000m left top to get views over Beinn Achaladair and Rannoch Moor.
I then walked back east to the main, middle top at 1,004m.
Beinn an Dothaidh has three tops so I then headed off SSE towards the third one at 993m as it wasn’t far away.
From the approach to it, it looked like a small peak and it afforded good views down into the glen and towards Beinn a Chuirn and Beinn nam Fuaran.
From there, I took a more direct route SW back to the bealach. As before, some snow drifts were up to knee deep but nothing really difficult and I was soon back at the cairn on the bealach. Just at that point it suddenly got very busy as another 6 -8 walkers appeared up over the edge from the track. One guy came over to stand beside me at the cairn trying to get shelter from the wind as he proceeded to put on his new crampons. I watched him for a wee bit as he looked puzzled, unable to decide how they fitted. He had a look at mine but that wasn’t any use to him as my crampons are late 1980’s Salewa with two sets of straps – when I pointed out to him that he had his the wrong way round and was trying to put his heel into the toe piece he said that he had bought them some time ago and hadn’t tried them out yet. He was part of a group which was climbing Beinn an Dothaidh – I wished him well and headed off almost due south up Beinn Dorain.
Again the track appeared and disappeared in the snow and it was also frequently rocky. I kept my crampons on despite this as I guessed it would be a lot worse without them. The going was fairly easy and a bit further up I could see the ridge and the approach to Carn Sassunnich. On the way, I passed another smaller cairn on the edge of the ridge. I actually found the walk up Beinn Dorain easier than the walk up Beinn an Dothaidh.
There was some deep snow to the south of Carn Sassunnich and from there it was an easy walk up to the real summit of Beinn Dorain. On the final approach, I was conscious of not getting too near the edge especially in the snow drifts but it wasn’t long before I got to the top.
The are excellent views all round and I managed to take a short, basic video although the wind was making it a little tricky.
There was cloud in the distance and it looked like the weather may not stay as good for the rest of the day but should be fine for a wee while. Accordingly, I decided to go back down via Meall Garbh instead of just repeating the ascent route. When I got back down to Carn Sassunnich, I headed NE down the long easy slope of Meall Garbh before turning NW to head back towards the bealach.
The slopes down from Meall Garbh were steep and rocky in places but there was enough snow to allow me to get down to beside the two small and very frozen lochans….I’m not sure how easy these slopes would be in summer though without snow and crampons.
The walk back to the bealach was a bit harder and longer than I’d hoped due to having to cross up and down over a number of small ridges but I decided that was easier than going lower down then climbing back up the bealach. I did pass a very frozen waterfall to my left on the way.
Once at the bealach, I headed back down the normal track. I twice heard shouting coming from the Beinn Dorain crags south of the track; I could see two climbers on the crags and I think one further up. I shouted up to them to see if they were OK but as they didn’t seem to be shouting for help and were still moving, I kept on down the track.
Around 2pm, the weather finally closed in and it started to snow. Fortunately I wasn’t far from the train station at this point; looking back up hill, I could only just make out the outlines of the hills. I kept my crampons on initially as it was still very slippy but this was very tricky due to the loose stones and rocks. Going off the track helped a wee bit. Further down I had no option but to remove them with the rest of the way trying avoid all the icy bits and thinking to myself that it was a pity that both Tiso Glasgow stores had been sold out of my size in microspikes last week.
Back in Bridge of Orchy, the hotel had a sign up saying it was closed until nearly the end of the year. I had another drink of flask coffee in the car and managed to get up the hill out of the car park with only one small sideways slide. Looking back on the walk, the hardest part was the walk back down the track from the bealach. I then had a nice drive back down Loch Lomond while finishing off Ommadawn and going on to some Pink Floyd. Great end to a nice day.
You took some fantastic pictures with picture 12 the best. Great looking waterfall too. Sounds damn cold and icy so well done on getting out.
by Stretch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:18 pm
by rockhopper » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:26 pm
Ho ho ho stretch - hadn't spotted the bow but it did make part of the route anti clockwise which always seems to work better for me
by seamus0 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:43 pm
Great report! Excellent photos! Especially like the video, starting to get itchy feet just looking at it. Im flying up from the south on 27th and this was the route I thought would be a reasonable bet of being achievable. What was the drive like on the road and how long did the route take you? Im planning on staying in the bunkhouse which also opens on 27th (well hopefully!)
Good timing on the report!
I saw that Meall Garbh ridge and quite fancied that one myself. I also visited all the summits on Dothaidh - seemed wrong not to I was surprised noone else on the hill did...
I have to say though that I can't understand anyone wanting to drink cold water in the temperatures we've been having - can't you just carry two flasks or something? I will only drink warm drinks in winter (including at home) as I believe cold ones have too much of a cooling effect on your body. If I really wanted a cool drink, I'd just eat some (clean) snow or suck an icicle but it's rare I do...
- mountain coward
rockhopper wrote:Ho ho ho stretch - hadn't spotted the bow but it did make part of the route anti clockwise which always seems to work better for me
Funnily enough, that was about the first thing I did notice on the report!
- mountain coward
by rockhopper » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:17 am
The drive up Loch Lomond from Glasgow was fine as there was hardly any snow/ice around the road - I've got more snow still on the road outside my front door in Glasgow ! It was very early in the morning and would probably get busier later on - more traffic on the way back down in the afternoon. Total time was just under 6hrs 50mins but that includes about 2 hours of stoppage for food, drinks, photos, crampons etc per my GPS. The ascent was 1,376m (although GPS incorrectly stated 1,640m as I need to update the software). If it was summer and longer days it's possible to add other hills in the area on to the trip but for a winter's day with just under 7 hrs between sunrise and sunset this was enough for me. I don't go that fast and like to stop and look at the scenery.
Hope you have a great time - look forward to hearing how you get on.
by rockhopper » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:09 am
I'd read your report before I want up to Bridge of Orchy when you mentioned this. I actually thought the left 1000m top had better views and the right 993m top looked more interesting as it formed a peak that seemd to hang in the air as I approached it. The middle real summit was relatively featureless by comparison.mountain coward wrote:I also visited all the summits on Dothaidh - seemed wrong not to
It's a habit I have from using camelbaks for cycling and being used to sipping as I go regardless of the weather and not wanting to stop to get bottles/flasks out. However, you're right that it makes less sense in this weather - I'm off to get another 1l stainless steel flaskmountain coward wrote: I can't understand anyone wanting to drink cold water in the temperatures we've been having - can't you just carry two flasks or something?
by Gable Gable End » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:26 am
by rockhopper » Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:19 pm