Are there any words that can describe this summit and the views from the top other than “wow”?
The answer is no. Stunning walking on a lovely warm summy day. Warm enough at the top for just a T-shirt on top if you could keep out of the wind. Very foggy on the drive up but just very, very hazy at the foot of the summit.
Park at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel car park. Cross the main road and walk to the railway station. Through the underpass and then go left of the phone mast. From here the route is the huge great wide boggy track. It was dry today but could be very sloppy. Follow the obvious track up the hill. A proper Munro trench soon appears. There are a few boggy bits higher up but you just keep going up into the Choire. As the head wall approaches it gets steeper and you climb up some loose rocks/rockfall but it’s not hard really. You would need to try hard to lose the path, very hard indeed.
Then you’re 578m higher at the beallach. Stunning. No other word for it on a sunny day. Turn left for Beinn an Dothaidh or right for Beinn Dorain. The path is a little obscure as there is a lot of slab rock to cross. The route is easy to find, just look for crampon scarring on the rocks and go up. There’s a twisty steepish bit that leads onto a flat section with a lochan. One last steep section leads to the place of choosing. At the top of the steep section you go left for the route across the top of the ridge. Straight on (and it’s the most obvious of obvious trenches/paths) leads to the more “entertaining” route. Do not take this if you don’t like a bit of exposure. By that I mean a path that involves walking with your shoulder close to the rocks on your left, a path that is 2 boots wide and then a sheer drop of about 50m followed by a decaying exponential curve of some 800m. If you slip you’re finished. So don’t take this path if, like me, you don’t like exposure.
I did by mistake. It was horrible. I should have turned back but the view going back looked worse. The path descends quite a lot then starts to climb. At one point it ends and there are some large boulders to cross to continue. Now I reckoned they’d been there for approx 10000 yrs and had been crossed many times and were not going to fall even under my weight. But I found the one that rocked as I scrambled over and when your backside has what feels like 800+m of fresh air underneath it then moving ground is not what you want. The final section seemed worse still especially as I was in the shade and gloom. Then you climb fast and turn through 180 degrees and you’re at the cairn.
I used up a whole year’s adrenaline and my heart was thumping away for a long time after summiting. Another walker who followed me was just as “entertained” as I was. He said he was not going back that way even if it was the only way off the hill!
There’s bags of space for HF antennas without blocking up the top. 60m was OK but not busy. 40m CW was in it’s G/EU phase… only G’s calling then only DL/HB9/OM stations then G’s then DL’s. I had enough time for a quick bash onto 20m CW and worked many stations with ODX being N4EX and VE1WT who was 59++++ on the meter. Despite there being predictions of doom and gloom with a big contest on SSB (20m SSB was wall to wall) I had no problems finding clear frequencies on 40 CW or 20 CW and working lots of stations being just QRP.
I must apologise for going QRT before finishing the pile-up on 20m. I ran out of time. It’s hard work fitting 3 bands in when there’s a big walk in and out. It took me 3hrs to get to the top and I reckoned 2hrs to get down. Plus a 2+hr drive back as the roads would be busy. So it was either spend 15mins on 20m and tehn go QRT so I could get home at a reasonable time which would give a few people the summit or just do 60/40m. It’s not something I enjoyed doing.
Walk out was the correct top of the ridge route back and is trivial. There were some significant cornices to examine and whilst hazy, the views were beyond words. Really amazing. If you only do one Scottish summit it would have to be this one in the sunshine. The descent was easy if tiring when steep and my knees were letting me know my age when I got back to the car which was telling me it was 19C.
Total walked: 11.7km, total ascent 1014m, total driven 185miles
Pictures are now in the Flickr group.