This was planned to be a long and quite challenging day for my son-in-law and myself and so it proved to be. We parked the car by the Bailey bridge at NN248812 and started the long haul towards the summit; the carpark is at 78m so it was going to be a very long ascent to 1177m! Nobody who has written up this route tells you that the estate tolerates you driving in on the dirt road and leaving your car at NN256788 – this would have saved 40 minutes each way!!!
We left the track at NN262776 and skirted round the crags before starting what was to prove to be a long and relentless slog skywards. Reaching the top of Stob Coire Gaibhre the ascent eases for a while (although the sensible and less masochistic amongst us would contour round this lump). The wind was straight off the Ben Nevis snowfields and it was, to use the local terminology, Baltic! At this point we were passed by a group of four women and two men, all older than me, who appeared not to have noticed either the ascent or the temperature as they were in shorts and tee shirts and steamed past us onto the ascent over the rocks to the minor summit at spot height 1121m. My son-in-law paused in his climb, the reason being that one of these hardy women had just stripped down to her underwear for a clothing change and extra layers – I would guess with windchill it was about -15 degrees – that was one hard lady! The final ascent looks much more dramatic than it is with a razor sharp edge leading to the summit – this was a great photo opportunity missed as neither of us was carrying a camera – there looks to be horrendous exposure but in fact there is nothing worth speaking of and the final summit is reached without too much difficulty.
The summit of is not overlarge and erecting the dipole without getting in all the other walkers way was difficult. Switching to 5MHz channel FE there was Jack GM4COX working the last of the chasers for his hill so I was able to start the day with a summit to summit although he was really weak with me. After that a string of regulars followed with good signals from all other stations, although they were not having it as easy as me. Then the antenna collapsed in the wind just as I was trying to work G4JZF! By the time I had managed to re-rig the antenna another station had taken over the channel and was working away at the chasers. It was suggested to me that we should move-on towards Stob Ban and so, reluctantly, I closed down and we headed of southwards down a VERY steep slope. This seems to be the preferred route up onto the Grey Corries ridge for the busloads of walkers we encountered but quite honestly I would doubt their sanity! The descent took much longer than predicted by Naismith and the re-ascent to Stob Ban which is a BPH (big pointy hill – like a kids drawing of a mountain) was daunting in the extreme. The decision was made to dump the plan to climb this and we found a route down to the bothy at NN282737. From here there is a 9Km slog back to the car along a well maintained estate track eminently suitable for a mountain bike.
That was one long day and very taxing on the legs – mine still hurt today, Monday.
Thanks, as always to the chasers, and to my son-in-law for dragging an old man up big hills.