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What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?


Postby dogplodder » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:16 pm

Route description: Beinn Fhionnlaidh

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Fhionnlaidh

Date walked: 19/04/2019

Distance: 14.5 km

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Since climbing Beinn Sguilard in 2000 it's been at the back of my mind to return some day and walk the long ridge of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. A week's holiday with family at Banavie gave an opportunity and Moira agreed to meet me in Fort William to continue the journey down to Glen Creran. We parked at the end of the public road and headed through the gate posts following the signs for Glen Etive and Glenure Lodge.

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Crossed the River Creran
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Heading for Glenure Lodge at foot of Beinn Sgulaird
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Before reaching Glenure Lodge we took a left fork in front of a new house towards a white cottage and barn, following a rough track to the left towards a plantation of conifers, then took a right turn onto a smaller track through the plantation. This track curves round and emerges on to a muddy turning area just beyond the trees. At this point at least two paths continue down and over a stream before beginning the ascent of the long ridge of Beinn Fhionnlaidh. The track we initially followed appeared to be running parallel to the burn so we changed course and found another path higher up which we followed for most of the way to the two lochans.

End of track
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Glen Creran
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Guessing this is Fraochaidh - against a stunning blue sky
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I had imagined slogging up pathless grassy slopes so found it easier than expected with an actual path to follow and although it disappeared at times it always turned up again. It was a warm day and with the higher temperature there was the inevitable haze so the hoped for views out to sea weren't clear and the peak of Ben More on Mull could only be imagined!

Zoomed to a hazy Loch Creran
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SE to Etive peaks
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Glen Ure and track to Glen Etive at base of Beinn Sgulaird
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Ridge stretching east
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Moira was feeling the effects of the sun and when we reached the first of the two lochans she decided to call it a day. As we sat by the lochan for a snack we discussed our options. There was still a third of the distance to cover so an obvious option was for both of us to turn back at this point. But Moira knew that returning to the area after 19 years I was keen to do this one so she suggested I go on while she wait by the lochan, reading her book (on her phone) while I continued. I didn't know what to do. On the one hand I didn't like leaving her for what could be quite a long wait. On the other hand it was warm and sunny so she'd be fine staying there and if I didn't complete the climb she would probably feel bad about it.

First of two lochans
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I looked at the ridge rising beyond the lochans and wanted to get up there. But if I was going to go I knew I shouldn't hang about any longer. So I said I'd give it an hour and see where I'd got to and if it turned out to be too far I'd turn back. I skirted the north side of both lochans (the opposite side to where there was a path which I found on the descent) and started up the steeper part of the ridge.

The going was fine with some rocky sections higher up, but no difficulties. I met a group of 8 coming down who were quite spread out, stood and chatted with some of them but apart from that didn't stop until I met a couple with a collie and had a wee blether with them, asking how much further it was to the summit. They said 20 minutes should do it which would take me slightly over the hour I'd allowed myself but was so close it would have been daft to have turned back before reaching it.

I told them my pal was waiting at the second lochan on the way down and asked if they could tell her what time I should reach the top so she'd have an idea when to expect me back. They said they would. To be honest I didn't like leaving her and still wasn't sure I'd done the right thing.

Nose of Beinn Fhionnlaidh's ridge
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Heading for summit
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Beinn Fhionnlaidh summit (959m)
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I reached the trig point exactly when the couple had said I would, took a few quick photos, didn't even stop to take a drink and turned right round to retrace my steps. As I was leaving I passed two other couples in quick succession who were heading for the summit. One commented that this ***** ridge seemed to go on for ever! I probably should have stopped for a quick refuel but just wanted to get back to Moira so didn't feel relaxed about doing that. Anyway here are the photos I took from the summit into the haze, so not the best. But at least I wasn't in cloud and seeing nothing.

Bidean nam Bian left, Buachaille Etive Mor right
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West out to sea
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Zoomed to Ben Starav and a hazy Loch Etive
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A patch of snow and Beinn a' Bheithir
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Beinn a' Bheithir again
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Heading back down the ridge to the lochans
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The descent was straighforward and took 10 minutes less than the ascent but at one point I lost the path and ended up on steep ground where a slip wouldn't have been a good thing so edged down very carefully. Once back on track I picked up speed and was soon passing the two lochans on the south side where there was a pretty good path.

Can't see my pal yet
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Once I spotted Moira sitting on the far side of the lochan where I'd left her I waved and indicated I'd go on to find a sheltered spot as the wind was now quite strong. It turned out the couple with the collie had been true to their word and had made a detour to where Moira was to tell her I'd be about 20 minutes behind them, which I was. Grateful to them for that.

We found a place behind a boulder with a bit of shelter from the wind, but I was sorry to see how cold Moira was despite having all available layers on. The last half hour after the wind had picked up she hadn't been able to find any effective shelter and it had been an uncomfortable wait. I felt bad about that but hoped once we got moving again she would warm up, which she did.

We retraced our steps down the ridge, at one point losing the path before finding it again lower down. The main focus of interest on this part of the descent was Beinn Sgulaird which I'd climbed on an even warmer day in July 2000 and ran out of liquids in the process - a salutary experience not yet to be repeated (so far!).

Steep flanks of Beinn Sgulaird
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Once on the track through the plantation it was easy walking back to the car, passing the group of deer grazing just beyond the deer fence round Glenure Lodge, exactly where they'd been when we passed them in the morning. On the drive home we were glad we were only going as far as Banavie, where a meal was waiting for us and we could start thinking about the first stage of the Great Glen Way that we were doing the next morning.

Sun setting over Ardgour from Ballachulish on our way home
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But the question is had I done the right thing going on and leaving Moira? I don't know.... I'm glad I got to the summit and it was unlikely I'd be back on this hill so it was my only chance. But I didn't like leaving her for that length of time. Maybe she'd have been better starting the descent and heading slowly back to the car. Any thoughts anyone?
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dav2930 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:42 pm

Lovely report. That last photo of the Ardgour sunset is a stunner! As for your question, don't forget it was Moira's idea to wait for you, so don't beat yourself up over it. I must admit, though, I don't like leaving people waiting for me purely because things don't always go to plan. It's a tricky one! :think:
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby Chris Mac » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:19 pm

Cracking photo's despite the haze and an enjoyable read. :clap: That lochan spot looks incredible, must visit!

Well personally i've been in that situation a lot as my other half prefers a short easy walk on good paths but i've got a tendency to take her on bigger walks. She's quit on every class of hill now :) leaving me to summit without her, usually in a hurry like you were, which I don't like as it increases the chance of injury. Having been ski-ing and cross-country running as a lad though, I have found that after all this practice I can now descend at rapid pace safely if required, much to the annoyance of those already complain about my speed of ascent. :D

I play it by ear and weigh up the situation: if it's remote and bad weather with not much shelter or she's not comfortable with me continuing and leaving her for a while then I will go back (Tighvein & Sail Chalmadale first attempt). If the quitting is at the start of the walk and the car is still close by :lol: (Culter Fell) then i'll continue.

On Munro's (Ben Chonzie, Stob Dubh of Wee Bookil), Corbetts (Beinn an Lochain - understandable at the steep bit) and Marilyn's (Beinn Bhreac) she's been happy enough to take her time and saunter back leaving me to summit and then catch her up. I still usually get an earful about my choice of walk this time though! :D

I don't enjoy it to be honest, I could have stayed on the summit of Beinn an Lochain for days the view was so good. Culter Fell I was happy to get off of quickly with my head in the clouds however but had I been on my own I would have done the full round. I now choose more Sub-2000 Marilyn walks with Y (she has done over 20 now) that are more here level and i'm still happy exploring something new and taking photos, the wee hills are great. She has also learned to give me more time to do massive hikes, bothy nights and scrambling routes on the bigger mountains with those of a similar level of ability.

Moira was happy for you to continue and looking at your photo approaching her coming down, you would struggle to leave her at a more stunning position to enjoy a reading break! Don't stress about it, choices were made by both sides, you reached the summit and enjoyed the walk even if it was rushed, the view was worth it alone. Moira didn't have to go above and beyond what she felt like doing but was happy to be left in a stunning location while her friend got her wish. Win win.

Marilyn Moira... has a nice ring to it. :wink:
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby Phil the Hill » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:07 pm

I have this issue too. Left my wife and son behind to go on to the summit of 2 hills in Hong Kong recently. So long as you've agreed a plan and it's understood the other party can start heading back down if they get bored / cold, it's not a problem. If you have a phone signal, you can keep in touch by WhatsApp or whatever.

Your pictures of Beinn Fhionnlaidh look familiar. I did it as my 250th Munro. You did better than me at finding the path. I went up the wrong initial ridge and ended up climbing steep pathless grassy slopes all the way to the lochan below the summit ridge.
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:33 pm

Great photos - especially the sunset!

I agree with other comments - as one said "choices were made by both sides".

You can double-guess ("Is she only saying I should go on because she doesn't want me to be disappointed?" etc etc) but it is simpler to just go on what people say. This was a mutual decision. A good one too, by the sounds of it.

A friend of mine who sells cars says every decision has a regret - they call it "buyer's remorse". It's a natural feeling. But the decision you made was rational and sensible.

We once left someone to wait for an hour. He couldn't make it to the summit of a big peak in Argentina, because he was tired.

Of course we made sure he wasn't suffering from altitude sickness or anything, and the weather was good and stable.

If we had all turned back instead, he would have felt bad that he had stopped us reaching the summit.

Tim
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby Sgurr » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:30 pm

The opposite to "buyer remorse" is cognitive dissonance" where you can't bear to think that you have made a bad decision , so immediately justify it by thinking it was really all right, seek others opinions to reinforce that belief etc,. etc. We tend to have "buyer remorse". As soon as we make a decision, we start to wonder if it was the right one, and recall all the times when we made the wrong one. I think it is only in TV programmes like Scooby Doo when if one of the characters says "Let's split up," that you get all the kids shouting at the TV "No, stay together." So many plots are dependent on the awful thing that happened if people split up. But if you have agreed (you did) had a plan(you had) and kept to it (you did), one might become uncomfortable and the other travel faster than she wanted, but nothing is going to go too seriously wrong. Now if you read my report "Red faces on Tryfan" you can see how nothing very bad happened, but a whole holiday was overshadowed by us thinking we had lost out kit. ALL BECAUSE our friends felt cold, didn't wait for us and had the (misplaced)confidence we would locate our rucksacks without them sitting near them . However the police were very pleased as 3 crimes were solved.
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dogplodder » Sat May 04, 2019 8:12 pm

dav2930 wrote:Lovely report. That last photo of the Ardgour sunset is a stunner! As for your question, don't forget it was Moira's idea to wait for you, so don't beat yourself up over it. I must admit, though, I don't like leaving people waiting for me purely because things don't always go to plan. It's a tricky one! :think:


I think things 'not always going to plan' is the main concern. There's always an element of risk going out in the hills and splitting up potentially adds to that risk if things don't go to plan. :?
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dogplodder » Sat May 04, 2019 8:22 pm

Chris Mac wrote:
I play it by ear and weigh up the situation: if it's remote and bad weather with not much shelter or she's not comfortable with me continuing and leaving her for a while then I will go back (Tighvein & Sail Chalmadale first attempt). If the quitting is at the start of the walk and the car is still close by :lol: (Culter Fell) then i'll continue.

On Munro's (Ben Chonzie, Stob Dubh of Wee Bookil), Corbetts (Beinn an Lochain - understandable at the steep bit) and Marilyn's (Beinn Bhreac) she's been happy enough to take her time and saunter back leaving me to summit and then catch her up.



Thanks Chris. I think that's right that there's no blanket rule and each case is different and has to be risk assessed at the time. :think:
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dogplodder » Sat May 04, 2019 8:25 pm

Phil the Hill wrote:
Your pictures of Beinn Fhionnlaidh look familiar. I did it as my 250th Munro. You did better than me at finding the path. I went up the wrong initial ridge and ended up climbing steep pathless grassy slopes all the way to the lochan below the summit ridge.


That's what I was expecting to be honest and couldn't believe our luck finding a path for most of the way. :wink:
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby gammy leg walker » Sat May 04, 2019 9:19 pm

You absolutely did exactly the right thing,I've been in the self same situation more times than I care to remember, admittedly it's been the other way round.

Beinn Laith Mhor & Sgorr Ruadh,I bailed out after BLM and walked out myself

Ben Alder 6,I again bailed out after only 4 and walked out myself

Carn Eighe range,I bailed out without reaching any summits, walked out myself

Beinn Dearg 4, again never made any summits, walked out myself

4 Eastern Mamores,only managed 2 and walked out myself.

All because my gammy knee packed in,never once did I ever consider asking any of my walking partners to abandon the walk and return with me.
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby Bonzo » Tue May 07, 2019 6:44 pm

I did something similar with my wife on Mullach Fraoch-choire a few years back.

I've not seen her since.
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dogplodder » Fri May 10, 2019 10:20 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:
We once left someone to wait for an hour. He couldn't make it to the summit of a big peak in Argentina, because he was tired.

Of course we made sure he wasn't suffering from altitude sickness or anything, and the weather was good and stable.

If we had all turned back instead, he would have felt bad that he had stopped us reaching the summit.

Tim


That's the thing, they'd feel bad if we pulled the plug on their account. But I guess every case has to be weighed up at the time.
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dogplodder » Fri May 10, 2019 10:25 pm

Sgurr wrote:. Now if you read my report "Red faces on Tryfan" you can see how nothing very bad happened, but a whole holiday was overshadowed by us thinking we had lost out kit. ALL BECAUSE our friends felt cold, didn't wait for us and had the (misplaced)confidence we would locate our rucksacks without them sitting near them . However the police were very pleased as 3 crimes were solved.


Have now read it - highly entertaining, written with style and good outcome! :lol:
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dogplodder » Fri May 10, 2019 10:27 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:You absolutely did exactly the right thing,I've been in the self same situation more times than I care to remember, admittedly it's been the other way round.

All because my gammy knee packed in,never once did I ever consider asking any of my walking partners to abandon the walk and return with me.


GLW you are a legend. :clap:
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Re: What was right thing to do on Beinn Fhionnlaidh?

Postby dogplodder » Fri May 10, 2019 10:28 pm

Bonzo wrote:I did something similar with my wife on Mullach Fraoch-choire a few years back.

I've not seen her since.


:lol: :lol: :lol: (I think!)
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