I’ve been a bit busy fixing the database and creating new associations so this report is a bit later than normal.
Usual stuff… where to this weekend? WX was better for the West than East with the potential of cloud free Munros West and 400m cloud elsewhere. With that it meant something around Tyndrum was selecting itself: either Beinn Dorain or Stob a’Choire Odhair. I decided Stob a’Choire Odhair was the one but as I had to drive past Beinn Dorain I could divert to that if it looked clear.
Out 30mins late and the sky was cloudy but it was mild. Up the well worn route to Callendar, Lochearnhead, Crianlarich, Tyndrum. Beinn Dorain was well cloudy so Stob it was. Up to Bridge of Orchy and there were some blue patches in the sky… looking good. From there it’s down a 5mile single track dead end to Victoria Bridge. There’s a car park here with space for 20+ cars and at 9.50am there 6 already there. It was a nice mild morning now, the odd low cloud but it had a feel the WX forecast would be right that the cloud would burn off during the day.
The walk in is initially easy, over the bridge to the splendid Victoria Lodge then along the landrover track by the Abhainn Shira, a wide but not too deep river with huge amounts of rock debris in it that have been carried down the floods and glaciation over thousands of years. There’s a huge wilderness here between Rannoach Moor and Loch Etive and the Abhainnn Shira drains it so it is a fair sized river. You follow the track to the bright green bothy. From here a stalker’s path runs into the corrie.
The path is over the morraines left behind when the area was created during the last ice age. However, there have been sufficient boots that the path is moderately level and has worn through the soil to the glacial till below. It’s a good path apart from a few boggy bits. The downside is there are lots of stones and the path is hardwork on the ankles. Well it was on my ankles. For a long time the gradient is imperceptable, you’re 3km in before it’s noticeable. The view even with cloud was good. Slowly you can see further into the corrie that gives the name Stob a’Choire Odhair (Peak of the dun/beige corrie). Next door is Stob Gabhar (Peak of the goat) which has a wonderful waterfall on it. The cloud was to the North of the mass of both mountains and was billowing down towards me. Magic.
Finally you cross a largeish burn at a good fording point at NN253446 and start the climb. The description says there are zigzags on the steep bit. Just as well as for the last 1.5km what looks like a vertical wall has been getting nearer. The zigzag path is very clear from a long way out. The stalker’s path runs on into the headwall of the corrie, it looks to go much further than the OS map suggests. You could continue to the beallach and then climb back up to the summit but I took the traditional trade route. It’s a good Munroist’s trench. It does meander about and is quite squishy in places but it is obvious and whilst hardish work you climb quickly. I saw some other walkers silhoutted on the skyline for the first time. In no time at all I was on the zigs and zags. Here the gradient is gentle and you can make excellent progress. Then it becomes straight again around NN254453.
I was now near the mist. Or I should say the mist had risen to around here, the day was brightening up a lot. I was confident I’d be mist free. In fact it was coming and going as I climbed the final sections. There wasn’t much breeze and it was the densest mist I can recall ever. The ground becomes quite bouldery too, the path disappears at times but I just kept on going up. There’s only 250m of ascent and 800m from the end of the zags to the summit but it did seem to drag on. And on. And on. Then all of sudden there was a wee cairn and I was there. The mist cleared and I thought I may get the view over Rannoch Moor that is raved about. But all I could see was a huge wall of mist coming back.
So I was mist free for about 2mins! On the way up I’d done some sums… basically working out how long it would take to get back to a path that was easy walking in the dark. I had my head torch with me but I wanted to be off the zags before I would need it. Also Stob Gabhar casts a big shadow, so whilst the sun may not have set it would be behind Stob Gabhar. That all said it would be last QSO at 1400z and then stop. So I set up and was hoping about 1hr15 operating, not too long. I need to get up earlier next week.
First was 60m and I managed 6 QSOs in 12mins. I failed to complete with Martyn M1MAJ. Conditions were so-so. I’m still convinced 60m is not a patch on what it was like this time last year. It works but it’s not buzzing the way it was. Anyway with that out the way I was intending on only operating on 20m. Just no time for 40/30m and after the fun on 20m last week I was looking forwards to this. Mark G0VOF kindly spotted my imminent arrival on 14.061. It took a bit longer than expect to get a decent match on the antenna. Whilst adjusting things and sending dits quite a few calls where sent in reply and someone did send my call a few times with theirs! Oh heck, maybe things were going to be busy?
So 1 CQ call and bedlam erupted. Frightening is one word. N4EX, Rich from Rayleigh NC was 1st in the log. Slick operating there Rich because the wall of signals from Europe was collosal. I did my best to control the pack but failed miserably. At times people were just ignoring my specific calls and I was getting a bit annoyed myself. It’s all good practice for me and I shall try harder controlling things next time. As it was I worked N4EX, N7UN and VE2JCW from stateside plus DL,F,HB9,SP,EA,S51,SM,OE,G,IK,ON,LY,HA,OZ. Last QSO was with Mark G0AZS at 1403 after which I pulled the plug. By just gone 1415 everything was packed up and I wandered up to the cairn for a photo in the gloopy gloom.
As I approached the mist swirled and lifted and I had a wondeful view up the route I’d climbed. I turned around and there it was… a brockenspectre. 247 summits it’s taken before I acutally saw my own real brockenspectre. By the time I’d got the camera out it had gone and the mist had returned. So the photo is rubbish. Never mind. I was 25mins late leaving but the path was much easier to follow going down. Within 10 mins I was clear of the mist and had a pleasant wander down to the zigs. Descending them was a little awkward as it was slippy in a few places. I stopped for a breather once I got back to the ford. A few energy bars, a photo and general adjustment of layers was needed. I also finished the water. No point carrying it when I would be by a river for the next hour or so.
It was very mild for mid-November and 950m. A T-shirt on top was all I need for the ascent and I did put a fleece and GoreTex jacket on when sat in the mist. The wind had got up by the time I was down into the corrie so I kept the fleece on and went on my merry way back along the paths. Back at the car for 1630z, boots off and sat and left my feet steam for a few minutes why I had quick fix. I’ve found I’m a bit sleepy when driving back after these walks when it’s dark. But a can of Red Bull gives me enough zing to be bright and cheery all the way home. Today I was trying ASDA’s own brand version and it seems to be identical to the real stuff. Except 6 cans of Red Bull are over £5.50 and 6 of ASDA’s were £1.70.
On the drive out I came across a hitch hiker about 4miles from Bridge of Orchy. I gave up giving lifts about 25years ago but here was a walker and I decided it would be fine as he had all the right gear with him. In fact it was because he had a Paramo jacket on I trusted him. He only wanted a lift to the Bridge of Orchy hotel but as he was heading for Crianlarich and I had to go there anyway, he got a bonus lift further than he expected. Sarah (Mrs. FMF) said “What if he’d have been an axe murderer?” and my reply was “But he was wearing Paramo!”. Made sense to me if not to her!
This is a great hill. It’s easily accessible from major population centres and so the paths are great. It’s not technically difficult and if a lardball like me can do it then it’s not hard at all. It took me 2hr30 to get up which is what Anquet said and 2hrs back. The countryside is wonderful here. If you have time and you’re not a scaredy cat like me you can take the route over Aonach Eagach to Stob Gabhar and get another 8 pts. Me? Well I’ll do Stob Gabhar another time when there’s more daylight and I’ll do it from Glen Etive up the Aonach Mor I think.
Total walked: 13.2km, total ascent 838m, total driven 195miles.