Monday, 3 June 2013

Eastern Mamores and Ring o'Steall, May'13

Martin was leading two days on the fine Mamores mountain range. Here's his take on the days....

The first day of this weekend's hike we met at the Grey Mares Car Park in Kinlochleven. A great group which helped the whole day go without a hitch.

It was a fine and clear day with the highest temperatures so far this year. We decided to tackle the hills in a clockwise direction which meant a steep initial climb up Na Gruagaichean from its southern ridge . Located at the Eastern end of the Mamores range reaching a height of 1,056m (3,465 ft). Going this way round we enjoyed great views across to Ben Nevis and the surrounding hills.

The day was spoiling us with uninterrupted views of the whole area.

Onwards to Binnein Mor highest of all the Mamores at 1130m. Being so high we managed to set foot in some remaining snow from last winter. From the summit we headed due north descending the ridge and then west to the lochan below Binnein Beag. Here we stopped for lunch. Fully refreshed we set off up Binnein Beag at 943m although dwarfed by Binnein Mor, a great classic mountain shape.

We retraced our steps back down the mountain and then headed east to the lochans between Sgor Eilde Beag and Sgurr Eilde Mor. At 1010m we had some hard work to reach the summit but once again great views across our days walking.

We then enjoyed a great walk back to Kinlochleven. A very enjoyable day, thanks every one.

Day two was the Ring o'Steall. A classic mountain route combining the traverse of four Munros with scrambling along narrow, rocky aretes. The route takes in An Gearanach, Stob Choire a Chairn, Am Bodach and then follows the Devils Ridge to Sgurr a'Mhaim. We met at the Steall car-park beneath the waterslide. We walked along the Steall path enjoying views into the Gorge and then onto the meadows and some fun crossing the wire bridge before the tricky and slippy river crossing beneath the waterfalls. We then ascended up a well worn path zigzagging upwards finally along a narrow ridge to straightforward walk to the summit of An Gearanach. This is the first Munro of the day, at 982m.

From here, we continued along the ridge which narrows to the dramatic, rocky arête of An Garbhanach. The traverse of this 'Top' is an airy but fairly straightforward scramble in an impressive situation, very reminiscent of the Carn Mor Dearg Arête. We stopped here for a bite to eat and watched the rescue helicopter picking off a walker who managed to slip whilst going up our second Munro of the day Stob Coire a'Chairn; the scrambling is over for now, but the ridge steepens with some scree towards the top. The cairn is at 981m.

We descended the much easier, grassy southwest ridge, traversing over a minor summit, before beginning the steep climb up to Am Bodach. This is rocky and a little loose, so care is needed with the mild scrambling on the ascent. Am Bodach (The Old Man) is 1032m, the highest summit on the central section of the main Mamores ridge, and our third Munro of the day.

We then descended the easy west ridge which drops down to another bealach before the straightforward climb up to Sgor an Iubhair. At 1001 metres, this was briefly a Munro between 1981 and 1997 ! The route now turns north away from the main spine of the Mamores, following instead what has been named 'The Devil's Ridge'. It begins easily enough as it descends NNW to a wide bealach, before beginning the traverse of the 'Top' of Stob Coire a'Mhail. This is an excitingly exposed and narrow arête, mainly grassy with a path along the crest. Beyond, the ridge continues easily to Sgurr a'Mhaim, the latter section being on the quartzite stones that give this mountain the appearance of being snow covered. There are great views back along the Devil's ridge. Sgorr a'Mhaim is the fourth and final Munro of our day, and its position away from the main ridge makes it a magnificent viewpoint.

We then descended down, quartzite at first, becoming grassier lower down though always steep. It eventually leads to path above the Allt Coire a Mhusgain.

Legs were sore by now. Some of the group having been with me yesterday also. Great effort put in by everyone and very enjoyable two days and 8 Munros.

Photos on this page are courtesy of Victoria Sherrif. More photos by Martin and other members of the groups are on our Flickr site .