Ben Cruachan Twice in one day? something went very wrong!

Munros: Ben Cruachan

Date walked: 19/06/2016

Time taken: 13 hours

Ascent: 1126m

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Fairly new to mountain walking but experienced rock climbers we thought oh its Sunday lets climb ben Cruachan, we knew it would be low level cloud but didn't think it would be a problem as the previous week we had climbed Ben lawers in the fog and although no stunning views you can still see the well trodden path so cant really get lost.
However on Cruachan a different story all together!
The walk started of really well, we thoroughly enjoyed the approach and views of the Damn and took the usual path up to cruachan.
After reaching the summit we sat down for lunch and a hot drink.
After a good rest we decided to head on across the ridge to Stob diamh, visibility was very poor due to the cloud/fog and rain.

I think where we went wrong was that we veered slightly left and ended up taking the north ridge behind Cruachan, we followed it along for a while but as we had never been on cruachan or stob diamh before we did not know if we were going the right way.
The ridge slowly descended and we ended up in a valley with a burn and some pools of water, for some reason i thought we had gone round it a large circle and with the limited visibility thought i could see what looked like a valley between some mountains that would take up back up or between stob diamh. by this time we were a little disheartened and disorientated and cold and wet, we did have really good water proof jackets and warm base layers but just standard walking trousers which by this time were soaked through.
So we headed back up the mountain hoping it would join us up with a path or something recognisable.
Little were we to know that we would end up is a very terrifying situation!

We kept on climbing up with the route getting steeper and steeper passing some snow and onto a very loose scree section until a point that we had to use our hands and some climbing techniques, eventually we got to a point that was so steep and so slippery we could not go any further it was at this point genuine fear for our safety was setting in.
We were both lost, disorientated, scared, cold and terrified. We ended up using our legs to jam ourselves into a small crevice with sheer rocks either side and above us.
We were genuinely terrified. we knew we could not go up any further and down was just to dangerous.
My girlfriend was in tears and so terrified.
I put on a brave face and calmed my girlfriend down offering a hot drink and making sure she was secure. I had a look to see if up was at all possible but decided it was beyond my skill.
It was at this point we checked our phones for signal because at this point we know the only way off was by mountain rescue, but guess what no signal so tried the ol whatsaap trick but nothing, tried 999 and nothing.
This was not looking to good!
I continued to calm my girlfriend taking time to have a drink and calm down trying to work out was to do.

After evaluating the situation we knew that staying put was not an option with no signal no chance of passers by, and deteriorating weather that was not an option to sit tight, so i checked to see if up was at all possible i knew we were only about 10 maybe 15 meters from the summit of something but it was near vertical and i thought just to dangerous to try.
So down was out only option.
We composed ourselves and with me me leading sat on out bums used our hands and feet any very very slowly started to make our way down to very steep and loose surface.
I cannot even comprehend or put into words how terrifying that was and I have never felt fear for our safety and lives but yesterday i did and it was not nice.
Eventually after a very slow decent we made it back past the snow fields and eventually onto something not so steep.
Still being over cautious we made a steady slow decent following the burn down.

As we were obviously completely lost and did not want to get into a situation like that again we decided the very simple way out navigation option which was Water must flow to the sea/sea level! So we followed burns as best we could eventually finding ourselves in the valley we had passed, we then followed the larger burn and traversed along side the river Noe, we caught a glimpse of a loch so knew if we just followed the flow of water it would take us to that, using the last of my phones battery i checked the gps on google maps and could see that it was loch Etive so we know there must be civilisation near there that we could ask for help. eventually finding a track which led to a house we knocked at the door, no one home :-( so carried on the track, by this time we were so tied and soaked to the bone i think we had by this time been out in the rain for 10 hours our boots were full of water so gortex does have its limits! even our really good waterproof jackets were starting to soak through.
Eventually we found another house after a few more miles, and this time someone was in, sadly the guy thought our ordeal was funny and continued to explain he had had a drink tonight so could not give us a lift. but did tell us that if we continue up the track for about 3 miles it will take us to the main road.
So on we marched by this time i think it was 10pm, eventually we found a smaller road which we knew if we turned left onto it then we would eventually end up on the A85 and could thumb a lift back to the car another 7 miles away, or if we found a house would ask for help.

After a few more miles we found a group of house i could see one had the television on so we knocked at the door.
A man answered and we explained our situation I told him we had been walking for over 10 hours had a near death experience both dehydrated cold wet and hungry could he please help us and take us to our car.
He was more than happy to help and was a fellow walker and climber so knew what it was like, I offered him money for the lift but he would not take any and was such a kind a helpful man, we owe alot to him as i do not think either of us would have managed the last 6 or 7 miles after already walking about 16miles and 11 hours and what i now know climbed ben cruachan twice! once up the normal way and once up the north face!
Lots of lessons learnt today we both ache so much and can hardly walk.
On the plus side we did see some Dipper birds and also some red deer and about a million frogs! and we are both alive.
(pictures below are in order last to first, The last picture i took was of the snow before things got very dangerous)

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Comments: 6

All day at the Cobbler and Ben ime

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Ìme
Corbetts: The Cobbler
Date walked: 28/05/2016
Distance: 17km
Ascent: 1011m
Comments: 1
Views: 1821

Beinn Dearg near Auchindrain

Attachment(s) Date walked: 14/05/2016
Distance: 6km
Ascent: 482m
Views: 519


Activity: Rambler
Pub: Home for a cuppa

Munros: 22
Corbetts: 4
Sub 2000: 2

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Trips: 3
Distance: 23 km
Ascent: 2619m
Munros: 2
Corbetts: 1

Joined: May 04, 2016
Last visited: Feb 26, 2021
Total posts: 10 | Search posts