An Easains Inversion

Route: Stob Coire Easain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin

Munros: Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, Stob Coire Easain

Date walked: 19/09/2015

Time taken: 7.5 hours

With a very promising forecast for clear skies, we set off up the A82, passing a clear Ben Lomond backed by the stars in the 5.30am sky. Now in daylight, we were swamped in fog as we passed Bridge of Orchy and Loch Tulla - this will burn off - the forecast said it would. Up on Rannoch Moor it was clear again, with the iconic 'Big Bookil' stunning as always in the morning light, but we could see we would be disappearing into more early mist, swallowing up the road down through Glencoe. At the other end, the skies were distinctly grey. After Fort William, more promising skies and blinding sunshine as we struggled to spot the exit from the A86 to Fersit, a brief glimpse of the mountain we would be heading to, and back into a patch of mist for the parking space next to An Dubh Lochan. Still, it was bright enough through the mist and it was only just gone 7.30 - it would all burn off, surely!

The view from the parking spot. The start of the ridge just visible through the mist.

Across the road, we followed what little path there was but saw some obvious mark on the hillside that seemed to be part of a path. Aiming for that, we found a bike track up the hill. When that seemed to lead nowhere we just headed for the ridge. I knew there was a path on the ridge somewhere and failing that we just had to follow the ridge anyway. Sure enough, after negotiating a fence and a brief, steep jaunt through the heather, we found a decent path heading in the right direction. By this time the mist was now thick around us - it had swallowed us up while we made our steep ascent. As we made our way south along the ridge, what little remnant of the path we were following guided us to the west side of the ridge - too far west by my reckoning - so heading towards the sun, we traversed to the eastern side of the ridge. Still very little visibility, but the spiders had been busy making some fantastic webs.

Wondrous spider creations!

Just as we reached what turned out to be the 'proper' path up, the clouds receded a little, giving us our first view of Meall Cian Dearg (our first view at all!) Maybe the mist was burning off after all!

Our first view of the route ahead

Meall Cian Dearg now in the weather we were promised!

Slightly higher, and we were beginning to get above the cloud - now looking considerably more than just early fog. It felt like the cloud was chasing us up the hill, forever preventing a proper inversion. We couldn't climb fast enough, and just as we cleared the last of Meall Cian Dearg, we got a brief glimpse of the route ahead before being enveloped once again.

Just getting out of the clouds as we approach Meall Cian Dearg - but I think they spotted us and begin the chase!

To the north, north west, a blanket covered all.

Now on top of Meall Cian Dearg, the mist has caught us up again.

In the cloud again, we made easy progress up to the 978 spot height, and eventually we were above the clouds! Not the wall to wall sunshine the forecast had suggested, but at least we could see, and better still, we had an inversion.

Above the clouds at last!

Looking south-east, the unmistakable outline of An Stuc giving the Lawers range away.

To the west, the Grey Corries, with the Ben at the back.

Looking back along the ridge.

Beginning to burn off?

The last part of the climb to the first Munro was a joy - inversion all around us, the swirling cloud concealing and revealing the various hills around us often with just the highest peaks visible. Snapping photos merrily, we reached the top of Stob A'Choire Mheadhoin still in the inversion.

Stob Coire Easain - our second target, from Stob A'Choire Mheadhoin.

The ridge behind us beginning to get swallowed by the cloud.

The Grey Corries disappearing fast too.

Hoping to reach Stob Coire Easain while still with the cloud below us, we took little time for photos on the first Munro summit, heading down the rock strewn ridge into the mist.

Heading down into the mist

Unfortunately, the weather gods had witnessed our enjoyment of the brief inversion, and had decided that was to be our lot. Ascending the steep rise to Stob Coire Easain, we were ever hopeful of emerging from the clag, but although it got promisingly bright, we ran out of mountain to climb and were clag bound at the summit. I'm not usually one for sitting around on summits - a quick bite to eat and we're off is the norm. Today though, the weather promised so much, and for mid-September, delivered at least weather pleasant enough to sit in at the top of a mountain for lunch. Half an hour passed - as did much cloud - below, above and around. Defeated, we began heading back to down to the bealach to retrace our steps. Here, we briefly got below the cloud again before returning over Stob A'Choire Mheadhoin in the cloud. It remained murky but with some visibility until we descended back down Meall Cian Dearg. Here we could now see the hydro pillar and also the road along Loch Trieg. Wishing to take a different route down, we opted to head for the point where the road splits. After a bit of negotiating the crags below us, we made it to the sheep fold and a track that took us to the road and a pleasant walk back to the car.

Looking towards the bealach on the descent from Stob Coire Easain.

Typically, it cleared a little not long after we had left the summit.

From Meall Cian Dearg down to Loch Trieg and the road.

I also took a few panorama shots with the camera from the top of Stob A'Choire Mheadhoin :
(unfortunately, the second of four panoramas was corrupted and I have not included it here.)

Stob Coire Easain on the right, and the Lawers range in the distance on the left.

Back along the ridge and down into Glen Spean.

Back round to the Grey Corries and Stob Coire Easain

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Comments: 3

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