Twa Days Same Hill - a drookit knockback and a braw day oot.

Munros: Creise

Date walked: 04/11/2021

Time taken: 7.5 hours

I broke a rule by choosing to hill-walk regardless of weather. I don’t mind a bit of weather but I also chose a serious route. Sron na Creise as a steep approach to the top Stob a’ Ghlas Choire and Creise, the Munro, got a recommend in a few trip reports hereabouts. I felt ready for a challenge, booked a bunkhouse room near a favourite pub, The Clachaig, and off I went.

Photo Oct 26, 10 51 06.jpg
I'm not a weather wimp but some dreich is dreicher than giesabreak......

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That is my intended route up to Creise. Seriously at this point I'm still going.....

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Hmmm.... not many obvious places to cross, not even by wading the shallows. Those rapids look dodgy too and any stepping stones are underwater.

By the time I got to Glen Etive the ‘slight’ problem of crossing the river in rain so continuous Mrs Noah fancied a cruise caused me pause. It slowly dawned on me that the river was impassable. Not just impassable without a soaking, but life threatening don’t even think about it.

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This is the Etive Road bridge over the torrent that is but a tributary to the River Etive. This allows cars and of course walkers to access Etive but leaves you on the west of the even larger torrent created just downstream where another main flow joins from Kingshouse (East)

Photo Oct 26, 11 55 33.jpg
A dude from Bristol told me he was expecting canoeists on this stretch. Not so sure bout dat Pal.....

I drove back up a bit over the bridge and wandered off to view the branch that comes from Kingshouse. It too was up and not crossable. Looking way downstream where the river is wider, there were no stepping stones, just brown fast deep flows everywhere. Oops big error. KNOCKBACK.

Oh Well. I’ll lunch at Kingshouse, dinner at Clachaig, early night and try tomorrow. And it rained, rained some more and so on all night. It was also so dark on the Clachaig back road I didn’t even see the path off the road that now I know runs about half of the mile I had to walk. It runs between pub and campsite in case you wondered. My single berth in a six bunk room cost me the full room price. I won’t be doing that again – but the independent hostel was pleasant enough, except that the drying room was really a few washers and a massive dryer – for the laundry – not for punters’ wet gear over night in an airy hot room with lots of shelves.

In the morning there were few glimpses of my route however I had a notion that one could cross the Etive (Kingshouse branch) by the classic ᴖ shaped bridge on the A82 and walk in along the east bank. This would allow an approach even in dreadful weather and my plan was to file this knowledge for a future go. I walked in about 1km until I was certain the ‘minor’ streams feeding the Etive were ford-able or jump-able or stepping stone assisted.

Photo Oct 26, 12 50 50.jpg
Plan A had been to ford the River Etive somewhere along the blue line. Nope.
Plan B upstream of the bridge inside the red circle try and cross 'lesser' flows. Not a chance.
Plan C - have lunch, dinner, pint, kip and try in the morn. Rained all night.

Photo Oct 27, 11 37 17.jpg
Whaddya think? Cross there? Aye nae bother.....
:shock: :shock:

The big yellow arrow points at the A82 bridge where you can position yourself East of the two river branches and head in. In principle you could go this way in, at the cost of +2km to your walk, in any weather or height of stream. However that would only work if the large Allt Càm Ghlinne and at least one of its chums were passable. So I decided to pretend this was a reconnaissance trip and not that I no longer felt up for Sron na Creise in the rain. I'll walk in as far as that stream and decide if it is indeed fordable and return to fight another day. It was I did.

Photo Oct 27, 08 35 48.jpg
Allt Càm Ghlinne, I decided, from here, would be cross-able so I sanctimoniously praised my own wisdom and judgement and ran away.

You can see here both the Sron na Creise ridge itself and the top - Stob a' Ghlaise Coire - after which don't forget Baggers is about another Km to the Munro. And so ended the Great Etive Knockback of 26-27/10/21. How long would it be 'til Vibrams drew me hillwards again?

Not long as it turns out.....on 4/11/21 provoked by a Facebook comment from a friend and in the serendipitous context of a single day favourable forecast, and with no bed booked, off I went.......

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The unmistakable view of Ben Dorain coming up from Tyndrum always gets my pulse going as Rannoch Moor and Glencoe beckon. And is that a wee early dusting of snow I see?

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Ooh - looking good. There's the Great Shepherd 'n' his wee pal; and Yon's the route including the ridge, the top and the Munro.

Now, even although I could tell the streams were probably returned to an antediluvian state and it was only just after eight a.m. as I approached, I wanted to avoid a repeat of my fluvial wanderings in selection of a start point and decided to cash in my reconnaissance token-of-prescience. In other words take the hit of an extra 2km and get started towards what I knew would be quite a stretch goal for this auld fat Bagger.

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About 08:36, no excuses, I'm on ma way. Up there. Overhead it's perfect; underfoot still soggy.

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Fording the mighty Allt Càm Ghlinne.

Given that the flow was way, way down from the 27/10 reconnaissance, this crossing was not trivial. It was easier to commit to a no-chance-of-slip option than risk a dry shod teeter over awkward angled, potentially slippy boulder and stone hops. I re-assert though, that this would be passable even in spate.

So the Approach having been described in exquisite detail - The Climb.

Photo Nov 04, 09 26 13.jpg
There are very few places in Europe where population density is basically you and whom you meet per square mile or so.

It so happens the entire slope ahead no matter which way you go toward that ridge shows evidence of former feet. My approach, you may recall :lol:, is a bit more 'left' than if one had come up from the Etive road and a suitable ford point, which had the effect of me heading a bit straighter 'up' than perhaps I'd intended because I was as they say upferrit.

I have been a climber in my 'Yoot'. I could lead at 4c and maybe 5a/b on a good day. I have a few top-roped 6's on the odd crag. So it wasn't reckless to head unroped as the whim took me into the rock bands above. However once hands were on cold rock and with the sponge of vegetation still oozing from recent downpours and with the steepness behind and ahead on the left-of-intended route I had a wee dip in confidence and was soon in moderate bother. Not 'gripped' I would say but definitely needing to reduce the exposure of my route and particularly the vertical drop and roll on offer if a slip ocurred. The natural route up Sron na Creise I knew was to my right, so, with some obvious weaknesses visible, and a bit of deft traversing I got on to more comfortable terrain and continued up.

The black line in the pic was lifted off this site in another member's post. I intended that originally but instead followed the red. On the second band of wet cold rocks I began to feel the exposure of the slope and drops behind me and finessed my way back on track by a reasonably tense traverse on 'moderate' ground.

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Discretion over valour - get back on the easiest route

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Wet knees indicate this is above the scrambling required to regain moderate terrain. Kingshouse and the bridge near my parked car in background.

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Zoomed in - the signature 'Rannoch' style bridge and the New Kingshouse off right. My car is there just east of the bridge but smeared over too few pixels to see....

Continuing on and up the route becomes more evident from scree paths and steps in vegetation but still the ways are many. A big left then right zig-zag '<' is the basic track. This avoids verticalities or exposed scrambing although there are alleged specific scrambles hereabouts that one might choose over the follow your nose routefinding.

Photo Nov 04, 10 54 36.jpg
Head on up y'all. That small niche on the skyline is a chimney variant that I chose to climb. About sixty feet, 20m, with four moderate steps to negotiate. I thought it would be near the top but there's more beyond that. The top of the ridge is quite scrambly with multiple options that will all go, it being slightly easier to go left and reach the top by one of many scrambles from the East.

Photo Nov 04, 10 56 26.jpg
The sun was out all day as the views show but the route was in shadow. Not far above this point the sunlight at the summit was pleasant enough but right in my face if going straight up. The final topping out is quite sudden and from using hands a lot you are at a wee cairn with an easy path towards the Top nearby.

Photo Nov 04, 11 37 00.jpg
... and then you're there. A wee cairn represents the end of scrambling but you still have Stob a' Ghlais Choire and a ridge to attain Creise. Kingshouse just right of cairn.

Photo Nov 04, 12 00 01.jpg
On the pleasant ascent to top SaGC that's Meall a' Bhuiridh on left with Creise to the right. The standard walk is from the ski slopes over Bhuiridh to Creise and back.

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Looking back, I think, at the Top Stob a' Ghlais Choire in the warm sun. Just after this the temperature dropped like a stone around 5-8°C

Photo Nov 04, 12 02 55.jpg
Last shot before the deep freeze. Those high clouds are ice, the lower ones, weather on the way.

I never hang about long on a Munro. This one was amazing though. I had had cramp at the top of the ridge and was expecting to fuel up and hydrate on Creise itself, putting off doing so on the pleasant walk from SaGC. The heat from the strenuous ascent and the sunshine found me approaching the summit of Creise in T shirt and fleece open to the waist. I met another solo walker who arrived there about sixty seconds ahead of me, In the time it took to chat about his route and intentions and identify Clach Leathad, the temperature plunged. I had been pondering CL and a descent directly down by the Allt Càm Ghlinne but within seconds after deciding to don my jacket for the first time all day, my fingers were too cold to open my prepackaged "Green Wellie" sandwich. We both abandoned our plans - he having been put off by my description of what a Sron na Creise descent would be like and me by declining any more 'up' and preferring the known devil of back the way I'd come rather than the unknown devil of a possibly trackless route down the valley. A young couple appeared at this point but a quick hello was all I managed before legging it. There were frozen puddles about and I had hands stuffed in pockets as I jogged briskly back towards the top. I did have gloves but they are quite tight at mere XL on my XXL hands so I didn't bother. Get lower, get warmer, get fed was my mantra. Two iron man types came running towards me and we stopped for a brief chat. I warned them how cold it was on top but they seemed unfazed by that; they warned me how serious was the way down from there, but having just climbed it I was unfazed by that. Off we went in opposite directions.

Back at the top of Sron na Creise I met another guy. It was still warm there and I scoffed my sandwich and took a drink. He also warned me of terrain ahead but chilled when I said I'd come up that way. So I'd met six people on Creise but exchanged very little chat. Them's the hills dude.

Tempted by delusions of an easier route down than I'd come up I made some feints southwest of the ridge but convex slopes to steepness put me off. With assist from the advanced technique of use of the a*se I actually made a steeper descent than I'd come up. If a groove, ledge, chimney or bulge on my direct line looked like it would go then it did. Gravity on my side and plenty of decent jugs, small holds or balance options and avoiding the big drops got me down quite quickly.

The last photo I took - none at all from the top, dammit - was after most of the higher buttresses were behind me. Not long after this the hat was off, the jacket unzipped as, tiring by now, I traversed once more towards my self selected route East of the natural line. I still scared myself a few times by deliberately accepting an exposed ledge or bad step rather than a muddy wet alternative but soon enough I was back near the flat bit. My next picture was a pint.

Photo Nov 04, 13 58 41.jpg
Not fading ur ye FatBoi?

Photo Nov 04, 17 23 28.jpg

I will admit that as delighted at my sojourn of 7.5 hours car to car as I was, the first thought as I wandered into the (New!) Kingshouse Hotel was not a pint. It was the possibility of a drive back to Embra being avoided. Any room at the bunkhouse I enquired? - knowing that would be unlikely.

No. But hold on a moment.

Five minutes later he's back, The manager is in a good mood, (knows the meaning of contribution margin I think he meant) so we can offer you a hotel room for the same price as a bunkhouse room.

Now I already know that in Covid times that means price of a fully occupied bunk room even if just for one. Nevertheless that is a very nice room, an amazing breakfast only constrained by my Noom diet app, the ability to enjoy more than one pint after my exertions and the privilege of a posh-end stay at one of my fave locations. Result.

I have stayed here in a tent, in the Cunningham era chaotic times' bunkhouse, in the modern bunkhouse and in the old hotel with its creaking floors, musty odour and tartan carpets. I remember having a bath in brown water and discussing it with a Yorkshire barmaid. Yeah she said, I phoned me Moom and told 'er I was in t'bath with peat. Me Moom says who's Pete?

Thus I cannot overstate how tickled I was to get a £180 (minimum) room (inc bkfst) for £45.

Better yet after my bath - yes the water is still broon - I watched the weather return to sh1t and my Carpe Diem plan outcome was complete success.

Hope you enjoyed my blather. Git oot in them thar hills folks!

Photo Nov 04, 18 07 21.jpg
About to take a bath with peat. Who's Pete?

Photo Nov 05, 07 24 02.jpg
Normal autumn weather resumed.

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Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: Clachaig
Mountain: Buchaille Etive Mor
Place: Glencoe
Gear: Dachstein mitts
Ideal day out: Cold sunny winter Munro

Munros: 160

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