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Answering the call of Brother Louie

Answering the call of Brother Louie


Postby BlackPanther » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:35 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chleibh, Ben Lui

Date walked: 12/05/2019

Time taken: 8.75 hours

Distance: 24.5 km

Ascent: 1331m

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One day in early May, we were sitting on the summit of Beinn Mhic-Mhonaidh, looking south to Ben Lui and wondering about possible route choices for this Munro. Kevin has done it before, but for some unexplained reasons he didn't add Beinn a'Chleibh. Maybe because he climbed Lui on a cloudy day and the sidekick Munro didn't really look like worth the hassle. So we both still heard the call of brother Lui :D

The most popular route from Glen Lochay was a no-no. We wanted a challenge, not a long slog up boring slopes. Having previously climbed Beinn Chuirn from Glen Cononish, we really fancied the eastern approach via Coire Gaothach. Plus, I knew that there was a plane crash site somewhere on the eastern/south eastern side of Ben Lui and I was eager at least to locate it for a future re-visit and detailed exploration.

Needless to say, we had a grand day, the Cononish route up Ben Lui is simply stunning, especially Coire Gaothach. The only problem, if you want to add the sidekick, it's awkwardly placed unless you're doing a traverse from Tyndrum to Glen Lochay, but you'd need two cars for that. We had to return to our starting point (Dalrigh) so for us, the only option was to return over Ben Lui. We made things slightly easier by contouring the slopes at 800m to avoid the extra reascent, but this option would not be advisable in misty conditions (easy to get lost and end up above vertical crags) or on a wet day (it's steep). In good weather though, one can sneak around the northern side of Ben Lui, carefully picking way between crags and cliffy bits. It saves nearly 300m of ascent :D

Track_BEN LUI 12-05-19.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We started from our favourite car park in this area, in Dalrigh, and followed WHW for a short time, before joining the track into Glen Cononish. It has recently been upgraded, looks like the gold mining inside Beinn Chuirn is now going on full steam ahead :D
The track into Glen Cononish, Beinn Chuirn on the horizon:
2019-05-013.JPG

The track can be cycled all the way into the glen, to the base of Ben Lui, but we didn't bother taking bikes as 6km is not long enough a walk in to justify it (at least for us). We enjoyed the sunny morning as we marched west to meet another "mental face" in our Munro journey...
Brother Louie is calling...
2019-05-016.JPG

We were mesmerized by Coire Gaothach, wondering which way to the summit would be the safest? The right-hand side of the corrie seemed easier and we could work out a line of possible attack. I was pleasantly surprised by a neatly constructed path on the lower slopes.
It has hardly even started and I'm already losing it... What will happen higher up???
2019-05-017.JPG

As we gained height, the path became a bit more "untidy" and wet in places, but it was still easy to follow, and with the perspective of what was waiting above... I was hard to stop!
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Looking down to Glen Cononish from the bottom of the corrie:
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Once into the corrie, I had a good look around, searching for any signs of the plane crash, but couldn't see anything. It's obviously out of sight from where we are, Kevin said, maybe we'll spot it from the summit?
We didn't even consider the Central Gully (that's too hardcore for me!) but the slopes on the right looked promising, steep but grassy:
2019-05-020.JPG

Higher up we even spotted a path but preferred to stay on the grass to the left side of the wide gully, it was less eroded. Soon we reached the rocky ridge about 200m below the summit:
2019-05-022.JPG

The final climb to the top was very entertaining. A reasonable path can be followed, there is no serious technical stuff (a couple of larger steps, not even qualifying as real scrambling). In winter condition it would be more difficult, but on a good day like we had, heyyya, I was hopping up the rocks like a very happy bunny!
The summit can be seen to the very left:
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Looks scary but it's misleading. This ridge is fun!
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Though I must admit, that looking down into Coire Gaothach made my guts twist!
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More fun on the final ascent:
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We were now close to the northern ridge, which is the main route up from Glen Lochay side. Ben Cruachan popped out from around the corner and we could see fellow walkers making their way up the other route:
2019-05-031.JPG

Some people have already reached the top, we wouldn't be first today!
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In the mist it would be easy to mistake the northern top for the summit, but the highest point is placed on the edge of a big drop, a sensational spot to pose with :D
2019-05-038.JPG

Looking east to Beinn Chuirn and all the Orchy Munros & Corbetts:
2019-05-035.JPG

Ben More and Stob Binnein, the only two hills still holding on to snow (not for long though!). They are still on our to-do list and I'd be happy to keep them as our final duo, but Kevin stubbornly insists on climbing them as soon as we get a chance.
2019-05-036.JPG

There are so many superb views from the summit area of brother Lui, I found it difficult to pick the best photos for this report. To the east/south east, the vertical drop into Coire Gaothach, with Ben Oss in the background:
2019-05-042.JPG

The lower top from the summit and the northern views behind:
2019-05-044.JPG

Our second target, Beinn a'Chleibh:
2019-05-045.JPG

Kevin posing on the summit crags. Not happy, I've caught up to just one Munro behind him! Guess which one?... :lol: :lol: :lol:
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With Lucy (Munro no. 106) on my 249th Munro, the last big "celebratory" number before compleation just one away!
2019-05-054.JPG

I studied the ridge creating southern side of Coire Gaothach and wondering if this could be a possible scrambling route to the summit, for another day maybe?
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The Arrochar Alps:
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Ben Cruachan and friends, here comes another option for the final Munro. Of course, it is very possible that Kevin will drag me up this one on the next available sunny weekend :lol:
2019-05-046.JPG

The summit was crowded by the time we finished our sandwiches, no wonder, weather was excellent and it was a Sunday. Most people came from Glen Lochay side (we only saw two other walkers taking the Coire Gaothach). I understand that the Lochay route is easier and more convenient for adding the sidekick, but sadly, it misses the true grandeur of brother Lui. It is worth adding the extra distance/ascent to see the best side of this mighty mountain!
To escape the crowd gathering around the sumit cairn, I took my small camera and wandered thoughtlessly a short distance along the rim of the corrie. And then, I saw it, in a grassy gully below:
2019-05-057.JPG

The sad remains are of Lockheed Hudson T9432 which crashed on Ben Lui on the 15th April 1941. The plane collided with the summit crags of Ben Lui in bad weather. The crew of four men died on site. A substantial amount of the aircraft still remains in the gully, as no recovery attempt was made, due to a large rock face next to the site.
Image2019-05-059 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
I was so excited to see the wreckage from above, that I waved to Kevin so he could come and see it, too. We had a good look around and saw that it is possible to reach the wreckage easily, simply by descending about 100m down the ridge connecting Ben Lui to Ben Oss, then turning left (east), the gully is wide and grassy, accessible from above. Now we had a dilemma: should we go and investigate the wreckage or continue to Beinn a'Chleibh?
Eventually, we decided to bag the sidekick Munro. The plane crash site will be still there the next time we visit Ben Lui. Now we know exactly where it is situated and how to reach it, we'll definitely return to Ben Lui and have a closer look!
Before leaving the summit (still crowded like Sunday carboot sales), we had a last glimpse towards Ben More and Stob Binnein - beware you two, the meowing one is coming!
2019-05-060.JPG

But first, the meowing one has to climb this little pimple on the ridge! Even seen in panoramic mode, Beinn a'Chleibh doesn't seem much of a mountain, especially after climbing the western face of brother Lui...
2019-05-063.JPG

There's an obvious path to the summit and the traverse took us less than an hour. A few walkers sat by the main summit of Beinn a'Chleibh, so we traversed along the wide, flat ridge to the northern cairn which is a bit lower (4m less according to Kevin's GPS) and here I could meow as loud as I wanted, celebrating my 250th Munro!!!
2019-05-068.JPG

Looking back to Ben Lui:
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South to Arrochar Alps, still to do in the future:
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After some wild dancing on the lower top, we returned to the true summit, where Lucy posed on the summit cairn - her 107th Munro:
2019-05-071.JPG

Tea break for Kevin. He's still one in front, but I'll do everything to catch him on Munros, as I have already done on Corbetts and Grahams :lol:
I wonder how a man might feel when a woman catches his Munros??? :shock: :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
2019-05-074.JPG

Well, I know how a Panther might feel when she gets to 250 out of 282! Absolutely mad!
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10 minutes later...She's still in a crazy state of mind :lol:
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Celebrations over, we discussed options for the return route. The safest way was to climb back to Ben Lui, but Kevin studied the map and said, we might just as well contour around the northern side of the mountain. As long as we stay between 700 and 850m, we should avoid the crags of Stob Garbh.
So instead of re-climbing Ben Lui, we took a swing around. Initially it was easy: we descended to the col between the two mountains and located a path into Fionn Choirein, but we left the path after a short distance, to begin the contouring:
2019-05-079.JPG

We dropped to 700m to traverse below crags in Fionn Choirein, then regained some height to avoid more crags. Basically, the contouring requires some clever maneuvering between steep sections, but as long as you can see where you're going, it's not too bad. In misty conditions it would be safer to return over Ben Lui, I think.
Looking for the best descent route:
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The upper crags of Stob Garbh:
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Finally, we dropped into upper Glen Cononish, crossed Allt an Rund and joined the main track in the glen. The bottom of Glen Cononish is quite squelchy (even after a longer period of dry weather) but once on the track, it was now easy walking back to Dalrigh. We kept glancing back at the mighty brother, thinking of how much fun we had today and promising, we'll be back some time for more explorations :D
Good bye, Borther Lui, till we meet again!
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Ben More and Stob Binnein so tempting...
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So what would we do the following day? I was thinking about Ben More but Kevin had a better idea. Weather was forecast to be fantastic for the next 3-4 days, so he announced: "Get ready, Panther, we're going wild camping!"
..................
My next TR will try to answer the question: was Panther born to be wild (camping)?
Last edited by BlackPanther on Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3464
Munros:260   Corbetts:165
Grahams:114   
Sub 2000:48   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Answering the call of Brother Louie

Postby old danensian » Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:08 pm

Yes, Ben Lui is a belter and the Cononish approach has you enthralled from the very beginning - I’m sure you’ll be back - even without the lure of crash site detritus.
When I repeated it - to get Beinn a Chleibh done as well - my retreat went south east to the bealach between BL and Ben Oss then out along the Allt Coire Laoigh with no tortuous dodging of crags.
Well done.
OD
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old danensian
 
Posts: 418
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Re: Answering the call of Brother Louie

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:41 pm

Lui sure is a fine mountain, and shows off superbly when approached from Cononish. And you had a superb day for it!
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Re: Answering the call of Brother Louie

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:42 pm

old danensian wrote:Yes, Ben Lui is a belter and the Cononish approach has you enthralled from the very beginning - I’m sure you’ll be back - even without the lure of crash site detritus.
When I repeated it - to get Beinn a Chleibh done as well - my retreat went south east to the bealach between BL and Ben Oss then out along the Allt Coire Laoigh with no tortuous dodging of crags.


Visiting a crash site is always an interesting addition to a day out, I'm really fascinated with those sad stories of lost planes. Two weeks ago we visited the one on Beinn Eighe, a well known plane wreck and another story of tragedy & rescue attempt. Still behind with my TRs...
We are actually going to another crash site tomorrow, this one in Assynt, hopefully weather stays dry in the far north!

Somehow, the shortcut via the connecting ridge with Ben Oss never occurred to us, a good idea for our next visit, though I doubt we will bother with Beinn a'Chleibh next time.

Alteknacker wrote:Lui sure is a fine mountain, and shows off superbly when approached from Cononish. And you had a superb day for it!


We kept Lui for a good day which meant we had to wait for quite a long time to do it :lol: I was always convinced that the Cononish approach was the best one, despite the problematic return route. I'm so glad we didn't rush it, this is a mountain to savour rather than to tick off.
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BlackPanther
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Posts: 3464
Munros:260   Corbetts:165
Grahams:114   
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Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

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