Monday, 2 April 2012

Mamores, March-April 2012

We'd organised a weekend to walk along the Mamores range between Loch Leven and Ben Nevis, with the possiblity of bagging all 10 Munros over 2 days. After an unseasonally warm couple of weeks, the forecast was prediting more typical spring temperatures with cloud moving in on Sunday. On the Saturday, myself and 5 hardy souls met early at Kinlochleven and navigated the maze of paths through woods onto open hillside. We were aiming for Sgurr Eilde Mor, then intending to work our way westwards. As we continued along fine paths, conditions gradually improved and temperatures rose. We had a break at the lochan that nestled between Sgor Eilde Beag and Sgurr Eilde Mor, taking in the views northwards, then after dropping off our sacks, a trudge up loose scree took us onto Sgurr Eilde Mor's summit. Stunning views all round !

After returning and picking up our sacks, we followed the path below Binnein Mor to the lochan underneath Binnein Beag. Another opportunity to head uphill without sacks was taken and we quickly found ourselves on this little Munro's summit, again admiring the panorama and posing for the camera.

Back down to our sacks, then we had the daunting task of getting up the huge hulk of Binnein Mor. Some people that were around half an hour infront of us had tackled this task via the craggy and boulder strewn north-east shoulder. I however knew of a much more pleasant route up grassy slopes on the northern shoulder, but the steep trudge was unavoidable ! The hill did sap some of our group's strength, but we all made it onto Binnein Mor's narrow summit, still basking in sunshine.

Time was getting on, so after a quick break, we headed off with the day's final Munro, Na Gruagaichean, in our sights. On the way, one of the team realised she'd dropped her car keys at some point earlier in the day, so if you ever com across a Mercedes key, email me and I'll send them on ! There's not much in the way of re-ascent to get onto Na Gruagaichean and the team prompty bagged it. Now with daylight dwindling and the sun resting behind the summits, we aimed downhill, short-cutting many of the stalker's paths corners to save time. Back at the car, we made it not long after darkness had descended, and drove of to Fort William in search of food.

I enjoyed a comfortable and peacful night in my little tent at the Glen Nevis campsite. My Sunday morning alarm-call was the sound of a woodpecker drilling into a tree above. The others had a more unsettled night in the nearby hostel - this hostel is always pretty busy ! Cloud had pulled in and was resting at around 600m on the slopes of Ben Nevis, slightly higher on the Mamores. After collecting at the hostel, we drove to the end of the twisty public road and walked by the Nevis Gorge, admiring the sculptures nature had carved over the centuries. Up to Steall, daffodils were in bloom and the Water of Steall plunged delicately down the rock slabs. One by one, the group tackled the wire bridge over the River Nevis and we headed up a stalker's path. Considering the effort expended yesterday, the group headed uphill at a fair pace and we were quickly in the cloud onto An Gearanach's northern spur, being buffeted by gusts.

In the thick cloud and with nothing to see, We weren't for hanging around today - we 'high-fived' on the summit and continued on. Beyond the Munro summit, we enjoyed some easy scrambling along the crest, before dropping below the crags and out of the wind for lunch. Stob Coire a'Chairn and Am Bodach were walked over, and our efforts were rewarded with occasional glimpses of the surrounding landscape. Am Bodach was Chris's 183rd Munro - only 100 to go :)) Up to Sgurr an Iubhair (an ex-Munro), we were met by 3 lost guys. They'd done Sgurr a'Mhaim and were trying to get to Stob Ban, but had got completely disorrientated. One even had a GPS, but didn't know how to use it ! We sent them in the correct direction and we then headed to our last Munro Sgurr a'Mhaim. However we had to tackle something called 'The Devil's Ridge' on the way ! This little gap is much hyped about, and is easily got around - just don't take the path that heads to the right (east). The group took it in their stride and before we knew it, Sgurr a'Mhaim was bagged. Still in the mist, we managed to hide out of the wind to grab a last bite to eat before heading back down to the glen floor. A full 1000m descent on boulders, scree and finally grass took returned us back to the cars with the expression on Chris's face summing up the day - delight, quite tired but really chuffed at the two day's achievment !

Some more photos of the two days are on our Flickr site, and a video will be on
our Youtube channel soon.