Thursday, 8 October 2015

Grey Corries, Easains and Lochy, Oct'15

Ah, the beginning of October, autumn is in the air, colours are changing from green to gold. What better time to head up the Grey Corries ? We'd put together a weekend hiking up the this range and some nearby peaks. The event proved very popular, so much so we had 3 guides leading - John, Martin and David. With John being on all three days, here's his tale of the weekend......

This weekend I was working on a mixed bag of routes around Spean Bridge. On Saturday, myself, Dave Buckett and Martin McDermott took a large group of enthusiastic folks over the whole of the Grey Corries. Then Dave and I took a smaller group over the Easains on Sunday, (aided by Steven who made a guest appearance in his running shorts), as well as tagging on the splendid Corbetts of Sgurr Innse and Cruach Innse. Then on Monday, due to a less than favourable forecast, I took a small group up Meall na Teanga and Sron a'Coire Gairbh above Loch Lochy, rather than risk a blowy old time on the CMD arete.

For Saturday, we parked at the track end above Corriechoille, and walked in via Leacach bothy. We elected to ascend Stob Ban via the coire, which is delightful, with a huge section of quartz and granite slabs at its head. It is so sheltered and pleasant we even saw some butterwort still flowering, in October! It is then just a case of leave the rucksacks at the bealach, and nip up and down the scree path to the summit at 977m. After a break at the bealach, we made the long pull up to Munro number two, Stob Coire Claurigh at 1177m, where we had a splendid view of the rest of the route, surrounded by the sound of bellowing stags, busy with the rut.

The continuation along the ridge is a joy, and we had hazy but atmospheric views all around, and could even make out Crowberry Tower on the Buachaille Etive Mor in the distance. Ben Nevis stayed typically cloudy however as always. By the time we reached the third Munro of Stob Coire an Laoigh 1116m, the group was getting spread out, so before the out-and-back push to the final munro of Sgurr Choinnich, Martin took some folks directly down, as they had had enough enjoyment for the day. Dave and I pressed on with our groups, passing each other as we ascended and descended the bouldery but interesting path.

Finally, after the fourth summit and the re-ascent back to Stob Coire Easain, we enjoyed the pleasant if long grassy descent to the dam crossing at Coire Choimhidh. All that remained was the traipse along the old tramway to the cars, but the Forestry Commission have been planting there, and have turned it into a quagmire, making it most unpleasant. We should have stuck to the fire road. Doh! A long day of 10 hours for my group, but a most satisfying one.

Sunday found us on the same track again, but this time taking the off-piste route up onto Stob Coire Easain 1115m (no, the other one!). This goes from grassy hillside to a broad ridge, and finally a steep quartzite path, which a few of the group were not keen to descend, so we moved to Plan B. After a pleasant lunch stop on the summit with fantastic views back over yesterday's route, we set off for Stob a'Coire Mheadhoin 1105m. By now, the wind that had not been forecast was gusting to 45-50mph, so Plan B entailed dropping NW into the coire for the return via Coire na Cabaig. Here Dave gave us an excellent geology lesson on the metamorphic rocks thereabouts, before we traversed using some deer trods back to our ascent route.

Johnston and I opted to finish the day on the excellent Corbetts of Sgurr Innse and Cruach Innse, so whilst the rest of the group returned along the track, we set off at full pelt over these. It was a great end to a good day, and we really motored, reaching the cars only 40 mins after the main group. It was very satisfying watching the encroaching black clouds behind us, as we romped North Westwards ahead of it, into the evening sunshine.

Finally on Monday the plan had been to do Ledge Route and the CMD arete on Ben Nevis, but with the forecast showing a significant deterioration, it was decided that discretion had the better part of valour, and an alternative settled upon. Myself and a small group of four went for Meall na Teanga and Sron a'Coire Gairbh from Kilfinnan on the banks of Loch Lochy. We did a there and back route via the high bealach, and the weather was much less windy than forecast, and stayed dry right until the end of the day, which was most pleasant. The folks that had done all three days had some tired legs by the end, but set off home very pleased with their Munro haul !

More photos are on our Flickr page !