This wasn’t the summit I intended to do! I was planning on snaffling Stob a’Choire Odhair WS-083 but I forgot to put the map in the car. I did have the route programmed into my GPS but I feel concerned going out onto larger summits without a paper map. As it is stalking season (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-k5J4RxQdE) I always take a few maps for alternate summits with me in case I can’t get onto where I want. So I had a choice of alternates and decided on this summit as it’s not a long walk but is quite steep. I was hoping that if the sky would play I could spend longer on the summit activating.
Beinn Odhar is just North of Tyndrum. There are several routes up, unfortunately all of them are steep! Two popular routes are the SE ridge from Auchtertyre Farm and over Meall Buidhe then up to the summit. The bealach between the 2 summits is a huge mass of peat hags. I first saw how wet it was from the summit of Beinn Chaorach CS-071. Although I was later to see that there is a dry(er) path if you keep to absolute Western edge of the bealach. The other route is shorter and involves the South West ridge. This can be started from a places along the A82 Tyndrum to Glen Coe road.
There are 4 possible parking places. Going North on the A82 there is a large layby near NN330314 and a huge layby just after the forest on the left hand side of the road finishes at NN328330. A close examination of Google StreetView shows 2 more pull offs. One is right at the start at NN330318 with room for 2 cars and the other is at NN329324 with room for 3 cars. I missed the park right at the start and stopped at the next one. It was only a few hundred meters and I couldn’t be bothered turning back.
The WX forecast was for blustery winds from the North to die down and for odd showers but with day brightening up a lot. It was cool at the parking spot and there were some ominous clouds but also the odd blue patch in the sky. I walked down to the start at NN330318 where a path leads to a bridge across the railway line and the burn. This comes out on The West Highland Way and there were many WHWers wandering by the time I was starting around 1000am BST. When you look at this summit you do think “By heck, that’s a bit of steep blighter!” and I surveyed the ground for the obvious route up. Follow the ridge is often the best route and looking at the ground it was spot on here.
I wandered a few hundred metres up the WHW and then turned off onto the grass and went up. Up, up, up, up. 1hr 45mins later I was at the top. Well there’s not much to say really other than it’s a bit of a grind. It’s like eating an elephant, you do it a bit at a time. Likewise climbing Beinn Odhar is simply a case of putting one foot in front of the other. Repeat a few thousands times!
Actually the climb is really rather splendid. Not long after starting you can see Ben Lui, Ben Oss, Ben Dubhcraig and Beinn a’Chuirn emerge. How do they look? Fantastic! Also you have the sight of Choire Thoin, an impressive set of ravines caused by the significant water that runs of all the steep sided summits here. If you think Choire Thoin looks impressive when Choire Chailein appears you have to redefine impressive. Amazing the way the water has sculpted the ground. As you climb then the views to the North West do improve. The best comes when you summit, but slowly the view across Rannoch Moor improves as height is gained on the way up.
There’s significant craggy outcrop with a lot of spoil around it near NN335330 and this is where the old lead mine was. There is an adit that leads into the hill. There used to be a miner’s path up but it’s long since lost, though at times I would swear I was on a path. Around NN337330 old decaying iron fence posts come into view just as the slope eases a bit. Then there is the wee lochan. I’ve lost count of the number of these I’ve walked past. But this one is different as the water is simply so clear. Normally they’re dirty, peaty holes full of water but this was inviting, apart from the temperature.
One final push up the steepest of steep gradients and you’re onto the top. It’s one of those summits when you know you’re nearly there but it seems to take hours to actually summit. Oh boy, wonderful view was redefined. There’s the massive lump of Beinn Dorain and his friends Beinn an Dothaidh, Beinn Achaladair, Beinn a’Chreacain and the other 4 of the 5 Auch Corbetts. (Fit swines can bag all 5 in a day… Beinn Odhar 901m, Beinn Chaorach 818m, Cam Creag 884m, Beinn a’Chasteill 886m and Beinn nam Fuaran 806m.) The cloud was rolling over the top of Beinn Dorain and looking out over Rannoch I could see it was raining. Looking back down to Tyndrum it was raining. In fact there were showers all around me, but not over me.
That was the pattern for the majority of the day. Lovely sunshine to warm me up from the cold North wind, then grey cloud almost down to my summit, showers to the left me (jokers to the right…) showers to the right. But not one drop of rain fell on me. Not at all, none. Nada. Zilch. Amazing. Normally a SOTA operator on a summit becomes a rain magnet but not this time. I can only assume the rain was dumping some water onto the bigger summits in front of me whizzing up over me and then relaxing and dumping onto Tyndrum. Still I’m not complaining… 'twas lovely. The cloud tended to rise up during the day which was just as MWIS said it would.
I set up about 30m away from the summit to get out of the wind as it was about 5m or so lower. First band was 60m and it seemed in OK shape. No great problems working people but there was QSB about. It was most definitely the start of Autumn. You can tell from the colours and the light. And the fact I could hear Geoff G6MZX. I seldom hear him in the Summer on 60m but he’s a regular in the log once Autumn and Winter come. I picked up a few on CW before announcing a QSY to 40m CW. Colin G4UXH and Rob G4RQJ/p just crept in before I moved bands. Rob was 1st S2S of the day and I left him the frequency. 40m CW required one CQ call and there was Roy, a huge signal. Cold fingers made my sending miserable. I thought if Roy was this loud on 40m I should be in for a nice run of contacts. After Roy I called and called. Nothing. I tuned about and someone was calling CQ TEST just below me and 40m sounded lively. But nobody answered my calls. I listened on 7.118 LSB and almost had the aerial melted by John GW4BVE working Colwyn MM6YCJ/p. I bellowed out “summit to summit” when the chasers called and someone heard me calling and asked Colwyn to listen for me. I can’t remember who but it was nice to hear people give up their slot for an S2S. Thank you.
Colwyn was “just there”. There’s no way I’d have worked him in a domestic environment but on a hill with no man made QRN he was quite readable. We were 31 each way. That was my first S2S with Colwyn. A nice summit to work as Colwyn has been hoovering up the unactivated summits often in properly remote places. WS-171 is up by Loch Monar where the beauty factor is permanently pinned at S9+60. Jealous? Moi? Mais non! As a recovering slob, Colwyn is another of the fit blighters who needs lead boots and shackles to give people like me a chance. Thanks for what is hopefully the first of many S2S contacts. After that I worked one more on 40m CW. Then onto 30m CW.
Again I called for what seemed like an age before I worked anyone. I could tell when I’d been spotted as there was a wee pile-up. I bashed on working them as best as possible. At one point I was sure there was another QSO on my frequency faintly beneath me but it could have been people calling me who were not really audible. I managed to work DL, PA, LA, F, OK, & OE. There certainly seemed to be slow QSB as eventually everyone faded out and there were no callers. I’d been on the summit for 1h30 so it was time to pack up and take some photos. So back up to the cairn for these. I’d checked the log and a few regulars were not there including Ken GM0AXY and Christine GM4YMM. Ken often tells me he listened and heard nothing so I thought it wont cost me anything to take the handy and try him on 2m.
I called on S20 and the handy jumped out of my hands with the strength of the signal from Robin GM7PKT/p for the 3rd S2S. It turns out Robin was just across the glen from me on Beinn a’Chreacain CS-006. No wonder he was loud. We had a good natter as Robin was just leaving the AZ on his way to the next summit Beinn Achaladair CS-018. I always get a smile when I work Robin handy to handy often over some quite amazing distances. Then I had a small pile up myself on 2m. Next was Steve GM7UAU in Greenock. He told me Roddy 2M0IOB was calling. I had to hit the squelch defeat but there was Roddy. He was walking the dog and handheld to handheld over a 60km obstructed path he was 41/51. At 3 QSO on 2m I was hoping for one more to qualify it on VHF and finally I was able to have a QSO with Ken GM0AXY in Edinburgh. He was 53 over a very obstructed 110km path. Really quite surprising. The path profile shows that the path is intercepted by both Beinn Each and The Stob. Or more importantly, Ken should be a belting signal on 2m from either of those summits. Christine GM4YMM made 5 and then Trevor MM0WCT/m who was coming up to Tyndrum made 6.
By now I was frozen from the wind at the cairn and had a silly smile. If only I’d have had one more QSO on 40m I’d have qualified this summit on 4 bands. Never mind. I was really quite happy with the radio and the view was rather splendid out to The Buckle and friends. In fact it was another of those views that was so good that I wouldn’t have been too unhappy with no QSOs. Seriously, it was that good.
Return was the same as up but as there’s no obvious path I wandered down and found my self at the lead mine. I remembered the big crags so contoured round onto the spoil and then down. Down, down, down. Only stopping when the front of my thighs were a bit warm. The ground is remarkably good considereing it’s been wet a lot of the last week. Just a few boggy bits and not deep, just squishy. The ground does break away on the wetter, steeper bits and I did go gluteus maximus over apex a few times. I couldn’t be bothered fannying about with going back to the bridge and then up the now very busy A82. So I walked up the WHW to near my car, found a shallow part of the burn to wade through (ankle deep so just dry feet) then nipped over the single track railway and up to the car. Tsk!
Boots off, big swig from the bottle and then 180 turn and back to Tyndrum. The Real Food Cafe was calling. Time for another bucket of tea. I didn’t have a penny to my name but did have my flexible friends. So I had to buy some cake to go with the tea and make up the price to the credit card limit. I had a slice of Date Cake and took the other back for the boss. 500ml of tea later my immediate thirst was quenched. Into the car, on with cool vibes (Sherman Robertson, Lou Donaldson) and back home to where it looked like it had been raining all day.
I found this hill immensly satisfying. Not too long a walk yet a good stiff climb to get the heart thumping and legs singing. Moderately good weather, could have been warmer. Excellent radio. Plenty of regulars worked, polite manners on 40m (wow!) and a bonus of 6 unexpected contacts on 2m FM. I used my Yaesu VX-170 for a change. It’s been the back-up rig for a while and I’ve concentrated using the Icom IC-80 as it has 70cms. It’s lighter too. But to be honest it is pants on 2m. It doesn’t seem to have the ears the VX-170 has and the S-meter is ternary (nothing, mid-scale or full-scale). The wee LiIon cell doesn’t last like the mega-NiMH on the VX-170. But it’s the performance on 2m in strong signals that is woeful. The Mekon could be in orbit around Venus and blip up his local 2m repeater and my IC-80 will collapse under the overload! It worked on Foel Fenli OK, but it was nigh on useless on Hutton Roof Crags. I can only assume the nearest paging site was Grayrigg Forest which is 23km North! Woeful performance
Total walked: 5.3km, total ascent: 633m, total driven: 170miles.
Er, that’s a 1 in 4 gradient all the way, no wonder my little legs were warm at the top. Almost Ben More standard (1 in 3 and 1000m ascent)! Now the astute amongst you will remember me mentioning to Gerald that I’d like some 70cms/23cms S2S contacts and there were some suitable uniques in SS land that were LOS. So why did I go in the opposite direction. Well you wouldn’t believe me but as I’d been planning going to Stob a’Choire Odhair the week before, I simply forgot Gerald and Paul would be in 23cms range and set off North West without thinking. I even had the 23cms handy in the car. Put it down to advancing old age
The wiki page is good about this summit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beinn_Odhar especially if you zoom the photo of the lead mine and study the road, you can see the car parking place. I’ll post some of my photos when I get a moment.