Sunday, 31 January 2010

Ben Cruachan

Another coin toss weather forecast and Craig and I headed off with two plans. An Caisteal or Ben Cruachan. On arrival at Crianlarich the skies seemed blue enough and with an optimistic feeling Ben Cruachan was chosen.

On driving along the road to Dalmally the eastern flanks of the Cruachan Massif came into view. This can be climbed as a circuit known as the Dalmally Horseshoe. Note to myself that I need to climb it from this direction one time.

After a lovely early morning drive along Loch Awe we arrived at the Falls Of Cruachan train station (only in operation in the summer months) and parked the car at the layby. The start of the climb is through a underpass under the railway line.

Nothing better than waking your muscles up with straight into steep leg work. Loch Awe is getting further below us.

Craig is optimistic about his first winter climb and hopeful that for his third time in the hills will get some views at the top (will he get them???)

The Pass of Brander. Site of a famous military battle in the Scottish Wars of Independance.

Hungry Robin eat some seeds out my hand.

The monstrous Cruachan Dam comes into view.

The Cruachan Horseshoe surrounds the Cruachan reservoir. Incredibly tranquil.

At the top of the reservoir we swung west towards the main summit: Ben Cruachan at 1126 m (3694 ft)

The Bealach comes into site.

Plenty of blue skies everywhere with just a flutter of cloud. Hopes are right up just now.

Nearly at the Bealach.

Self Portrait!

From the Bealach the clouds have started to come in. The steep slopes of Meall Cuanail in the background.

We should be looking out at Oban and the Isle of Mull from here. You can see a little of the ocean, but not much.

Looking south down Loch Awe.

Spindrift snow seems to get everywhere!

About a third of the way to the summit from the bealach the ground becomes hard nevé, and definately time to get crampons on and ice axe out. Very slow ascent with some icey precipitous run offs into the coire! I emphasise good footwork here and steady balance.

Craig has reached the summit of his third Munro (3000ft+ peak). Craig has also reached the summit of his third Munro with no views. Such is life in the Scottish mountains and weather.

Feeling very comfy in my new Rab Latok Alpine Jacket.

Settling down for a brew in the clouds.

The view opened up for about 30 seconds although not very far.

Looking down the Coire.

We started to see a little more once we came down out the cloud base.

Back at the bealach.

Trying some vertical ice climbing (not)

All the other peaks mostly seem to have sunshine except Cruachan.

A little freestyle glissade. (Don't do this with crampons on)

Back down at the dam and the south seems to be enjoying more sun than us.

The obligatory sunset pictures just as we get down towards the car.

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