Full details to follow. Photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/mm0fmf including shots of the helicopter coming to see what I was doing.
In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks for the photos Andy nice pitty you never got a lift to the next summit and thanks for the new one today got Don RQL to do the canclled summit for you.
WX does not look nice for the next two days up there well here as well.
In reply to G0VWP:
Great photos again Andy, I do wish you would consider putting them on the sota group again.
Looking forward to your activation report, Thanks for todays contact, a great job well done.
Stob Binnein SS-002
I don’t know where to start… OK first sorry for not doing Ben More. I’m just not fit enough yet to do that much climbing. As it was I’d climbed 1100m to get to the summit of Stob Binnein and Ben More involves a 300m descent and 300m reascent from the bealach. After some more training, hopefully, both in one day will be in my grasp.
There are a few routes up these two monsters (16th and 18th highest mountains in UK). The first is up the ridge of Ben More from Ben More Farm on the A85. Then down to the bealach and up to Stob Binnein. This is described as a boring tedious trudge up Ben More. The next is to follow the Ben More Farm track to its end and then go up to Bealach-eader-dha-Beinn (bealach between the hills). Then do Ben More, down to the beleach and up Stob Binnein. Both routes finish by descending to the belach and down to the Ben More Farm track and out. Or you can do the Southern approach from Inverlochlarig up to Stob Binnein first, then down and up to Ben More. This is the way I chose as the various descriptions put it as the best. Hmmmm.
So I parked at the car park at Inverlochlarig NN445184. This is the start for routes to at least 5 Munros so don’t expect it to be empty, I was eighth in at 10.30BST. The drive in from Balquhidder is down the narrow road and takes a good 25 minutes, less if you are reckless. Already the beauty factor was set to 10 and I wanted to stop and admire the view over Loch Voil, no time yet. Anyway, at the car park I booted up and watched as a family with 3 boys aged 7,6 and 5 booted up to also climb Stob Binnein. Now if a 5 year old can do it, then I must be capable. (He did too, the little sod and it only took him 35 minutes more than me!)
The guides say you “gain height rapidly at the start” which is true. That’s because you climb 550m in 3/4mile! Gordon Bennett! My legs, my lungs, my heart! The path is rough. I’m not sure if the path is the dryish stream, or the path has become a stream or the stream has become a path. There’s lots of muddy footprints nearby. Take your pick. However, this is badly eroded and I felt guilty coming this way and making it worse. Anyway, go directly up, do not pass go, do not collect £200. After a lifetime I stopped for some photos. That’s when I realised the float plane service from The Clyde was flying in and out of Loch Voil. ( http://www.lochlomondseaplanes.com , there’s an article in The Times today so they were flying journalists about when I saw the plane.)
Eventually the path levels out a little and I was at Stob Invercarnaig NN443196. It’s reaonably level for a while until you climb up to Creag Artair. Level is good but sadly it means bog and the path crosses right through the boggiest bits. Never mind, I got a great view of the plane taxi on the loch then take off. I watched it circle about beneath me and for a moment you could imagine yourself in the wilds of Canada or Alaska. However, Creag Artair called. Again it’s steep up here. But at the top you get your first view of the ridge and the final target. I also met the crazy man who in a strong wind and no sun was only wearing boots and shorts. We had a chat and I was about to have some lunch but he was such a good motivator that he got me do a huge chunk of ridge before eating.
From Creag Artair to Stob Coire an Lochain runs the ridge. A gentle slope upwards and it gets narrower and narrower. Still nothing to worry about. The cloud was thinning all the time and it was glorious on the ridge. However, just after getting on to Na Staidhrichean NN438214 I had to stop for lunch. I’d climbed 833m in a little over 2hrs. I’m a type II hyperglaecemic diabetic and I can tell when my sugars are getting low (very seldom normally) so 15 minutes rest and a buttie-fest solved that problem. Refreshed I battled on to NN438220, the 1068m high summit of Stob Coire an Lochain. Oh joy only another 133m to the climb.
The final ascent is steep and winding. It gets steeper and steeper and the path is quite loose rocks. And then you just step out onto the top at a whopping 1165m. There’s a summit cairn (not very impressive) and not much else as Ben More was in the mist. That soon lifted and the cloud got higher and higher with bigger and bigger breaks in the cloud. The view just got more and more extreme. Someone had now set the ‘beauty factor’ all the way to 11! I, was complete knackered. Not my legs, they didn’t ache or complain at all during the ascent. No, strangely I felt drained. Not so that I wouldn’t be able to walk out, but I knew attempting to go further would be very foolhardy. Hey, now I know my current fitness limits I can work on it to improve it and Ben More will still be there for next time.
There’s bags of space to set up right at the summit. I’d just finished when two blokes appeared and one said he was suprised to hear Volmet on a mountain. We had a chat and they were oil industry helicopter pilots from Aberdeen. Impressed with the stupidity of SOTA they set off for Ben More. I went on to have a whale of a time on 60m. I worked loads more than I expected and managed to pick up some GM regulars including an S2S with Robin GM7PKT/P on WS-003. I was having trouble with Graham G4JZF and finally resulted in switching to FM and sending his report in CW by keying the mike. Graham had no trouble then but we had struggled on SSB for some time. CW refuseniks take note!
Robin told me I had someone waiting on 2m so I whizzed up the antenna and had a good chat with fello GM activator Andrew GM0UDL, our 1st contact. Jack GM4COX, Christine GM4YMM and some others checked in. I commented to Andrew that the RN rescue helicopter was flying beneath me down in the glen when it flew up to the summit. The noise drowned out my voice when I transmitted and I couldn’t hear the 817 so I took some photos of the helicopter. Now, it just kept hovering there with the door open, so I waved and gave a thumbs up and the crew waved back. Then it did another circuit around and back to hover above the summit cairn. The rotorwash was significant, so he lifted higher and then a crewman appeared on the cable and was lowered down. He walked over and said hello.
I was hoping they didn’t think I was in trouble but he told me they were out practicing and saw me with an antenna up. They thought there might be a hill race on (race up Stob Binnein, someone is having a laugh) and that nobody had informed them and they thought they’d better check. They were going to land but when they checked they could see the rotorwash would blow my gear down to Crianlarich! So I told another helicopter man about SOTA. I tried to bum a lift out to Ben More but he just smiled. Anyway after about 10 mins he called the helicopter. The pilot had decided they were going to play somewhere else so they wouldn’t disturb me and then he was winched up. With a wave they were off. Fantastic! I’d never considered it before, but they don’t lower 7 stone weaklings down to deal with rescues and this dude was substantially built. If there was going to be a punch-up, I want to be on his side! In the excitement I forgot to get his name, but his photo is on Flickr.
I could have stayed all day on the summit. With the sunny periods it was lovely and warm, but noticely cold in the wind when the sun was hidden. However, all good things come to and end and it was time to pack up and go down. Jack GM4COX has suggested the best way back was the way I’d come rather than down to the bealach and trying to find a route to the path that leads back to Inverlochlarig. So I backtracked taking more photos and trying to absorb as much of the view as possible. Feeling tired, I took extra care on the steep descent from the summit to Stob Coire an Lochain. Down to Creag Artair was so easy back along that glorious ridge. The final descent took the longest. Very steep, very muddy and very slippy. But I was finally back at the car to be devoured by midges at 19.10BST. 8.5 hours of extreme enjoyment, even the sweaty, energy sapping climbing bits.
It’s a good 2hr drive back home and I stopped at probably the best chippy in Scotland, The Tasty Fry in Callander for a nice fish supper. Back home in only 1hr 30mins as the roads were deserted and a chance to see Mrs. FMF who’d been away all week.
Waaaaaaaa! What a day and I’m not sure if they can get better. Not everyone gets a personal visit from the RN to ask about their hobbies! Today I feel amazing. My legs are little stiff but I feel on top of the world.
Distance walked 6.3miles, total ascent 1103m/3618ft, total driven 160miles.
In reply to MM0FMF:
Crackin’ report Andy and brilliant photos as well. I bet you cracked a beer when you got back - you deserved one anyway!
P.S. I had to laugh when I read your Monopoly quote. I’ve said that to myself once or twice while making an ascent.
In reply to MM0FMF:
Brilliant report Andy, I enjoyed every minute of reading it. The 5 year old (little sod) had me in tucks of laughter.
Terrific photos too, please consider ptting them back on the sota group as in the past.
Well done on a superb activation.
In reply to G4OIG:
I can’t really take credit for the photos as the hardwork is done my little Nikon E4300 camera. It’s just point and shoot. Of course the subject matter is the real star, and we have a lot of it up here.
For a view of the ridge route in profile look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mm0fmf/448712971/
From right to left start on the summit of Stob Binnein (in the centre) you can clearly see the bump at Stob Coire an Lochain. You can just make out Creag Artair at the end of the ridge. Don’t confuse it with Beinn Tulaichean behind. To put scale on that picture, the bottom of the bealach to the summit of Ben More on the right is 312m or 1023ft!
In reply to MM0FMF:
Stob Binnein SS-002
were out practicing and saw me with an antenna up. They thought there
might be a hill race on (race up Stob Binnein, someone is having a
laugh) and that nobody had informed them and they thought they’d
A race up Stob Binnein might be considered relatively easy Andy. 2 weeks today is the annual race up Ben Nevis. It starts at 11 metres asl, so after taking account of all the ups and downs on the approach, runners effectively climb far more than the 1344m height. The winner will be expected to reach the top in less than 1 hour and return to the bottom in the less than half an hour after that.
And some people think SOTA activators are mad!!!
In reply to GM7PKT:
annual race up Ben Nevis
Oh yes, serious nutters!
I saw Griff Rhys Jones running part way up Nevis the other week on Mountain. He’s fitter than he looks! As for running up hills, I’ve seen how hard it is for me to stagger up them so running up them just causes my poor mind to melt in disbelief.
My problem is I’m overweight and I’ve been an idle slob for years. Now I’m in my forties, trying to get some fitness back is seriously hard work. Of course, it’s better to not become a slob in the first place. We all know that, but it’s so much easier to sit in front of the telly with another bag of crisps than to go out and do something. Well it was for me and it gave me age related diabetes before I got old.
I’m fighting the aging process and my diabetes so I know I’m never going to be a hill runner. I’d just like to get fit enough to do something like the Lawers ridge in one go and not be a gibbering wreck at the end of it. If you’d have told me this time last year that I would be walking up hills and mountains and enjoying it I’d have thought you were a bit soft in the head.
Running up hills really doesn’t bear thinking about.