Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ben More and Stob Binnein

The guidebook introduced this route by saying "it is not so much a walk as a challenge". Robbie and I tend not to take these things too seriously as the books have to take into account walkers of all levels, but by the end we admitted that was the perfect intro after all.

For starters there were two rivers to cross. The first crossing resulted in my lower half getting soaked. The second was this - no room for false steps or it was down a waterfall!

After a forest walk and the hopping of a deer fence or two, we had our first proper view of the two main peaks we'd be climbing, Stob Binnein (1165m) on the left and Ben More (1174m) on the right.

It had been warm lately, but lots of snow still on the hills. And much more to come as we'd discover. There aren't proper paths as such, so it was a lot of scrambling and looking for a ways to go up. After several hours of this, and after climbing Stob Coire an Lochain, the way up to Stob Binnein became quite clear.

And then the first peak, Stob Binnein - which was absolutely covered in the white stuff. Felt more like the Alps than a Scottish hill in March.

From this angle I was a bit nervous - if it was going to be this snowy at this altitude, it would be tough going what with having to avoid snow filled holes and the like. Luckily we found that the other side was relatively snow free so the climb up Ben More would be a bit more managable.

And finally to the top of Ben More! It felt great, but we were exhausted. And now we had to get back down through the snow, and it was a bit later than we'd hoped at this point.

And sure enough, the decsent was tough going. The snow patches were basically ice on this side, and it was hard to keep yur footing. In the end, once we determined that we could steer, we got on our asses and slid down the icy patches. Scary but exciting as hell!

As you can imagine, as the sun went down it got pretty damn cold. And we did slightly lose our way near the end which resulted in us following the old advice - if you get lost, find a river and follow it out. Which is exactly what we did and it worked. So came out sore, wind-beaten and soaked, but definitely the best hillwalk yet.