Beinn a' Chroin - 942m
Monday 5th May 2008
Weather/Conditions: Overcast initially, although the cloud cleared and the day was sunny and warm until the end. There was some cooling wind at the tops but it was mostly quite warm - I forgot we were nearly in summer and proceeded to get sunburn. As did Alex!
Having not been hillwalking with Alex for a while, we decided to do a few more summits. Up until this point it had felt like winter to me and I didn't realise that being May, the sun was high in the sky and we both proceeded to spend six or so hours frying. Such a situation wasn't ideal but the sun burn wasn't too bad anyway.
We left the house at 9.15am and dad gave us a lift up to Derrydarroch which is quite a drive. However, we arrived and began walking while dad drove off to work for the day. It started out gloomy and overcast but it didn't bother me overly - it was apparently to clear up, but one could only hope so. The initial section of the walk up to Stob Glas was a tedious boggy slog - not ideal, but we pressed on. We looked up into the cloud trying to at least reach the cloud base, yet before long it seemed we had already clocked up quite an altitude on the GPS and progress seemed to be going well. We entered the clouds and walked up around the crags, however it was all so thin that the sun was visible through the top.
And as predicted, it cleared. Sron Garbh on the opposite side of Coire Andoran appeared rising out of the cloud first and then the whole scene cleared! Suddenly in front of us the whole mountain with the corrie and ridge of Stob Glas rising up to the summit appeared and streams glittered under sunlight in front of a blue backdrop. It was terribly impressive and the bugs began coming out. They didn't bite though so I was fine with them. Instead of heading to the summit of Stob Garbh we traversed its eastern slopes and met the ridge soon after. It was 11am, we were 1900 feet up and things were going excellently.
The first problem to arise was that my feet were rubbing at the back rather much. I walked with it, but it became a little too much to go with. In a flash of madness, the boots came off and I continued the ridge in socks. And I had spare socks if needed. We continued working our way up the ridge and was approaching the summit at 12.30pm. I was a little confused as to where the summit was and so began heading towards the castle as many people seemed to be standing on it. Soon after I realised the mistake and we headed up the last few meters to the summit. (12.45pm) As I mentioned earlier, the camera became unresponsive at this point but we had other cameras. Concerning the socks, I'm sure I got more than one funny look...
I looked to the eastern Crianlarich Hills feeling strangely familiar: Ben More, Beinn Tulaichean (which I'd climbed), Cruach Ardrain plus several more to the south. The ever familiar Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime were to the south and Alex and I stopped for lunch out of the wind.
Beinn a' Chroin
After an extended break, we decided to push on and do Beinn a' Chroin. By this point I wasn't in the mood for going over to Beinn Chabhair as I'd had initially considered so we headed and did the usual two Munros in a circuit. I also decided to put my boots back on. The feet were feeling better and amazingly the socks had almost completely dried out even though they'd been sodden previously. There's something to be said about clothing designed for such purposes.
The descent from An Caisteal was a little eventful, and there were some interesting scrambling sections. Negotiating the fiddly scrambling sections were tougher with a rucksack on the back but all was okay and as we went down I spent the time considering the route up Beinn a' Chroin. The side is steep and at first glance there are no obvious routes, but upon closer inspection, I realised two obvious gullies ran upwards. The right hand one being the wider of the two, we decided we'd use to ascend. I was anticipating some sort of epic cling-on-for-your-life scenario although was pleasantly surprised to find that, despite the exposure and heights, the path was well defined enough that I had a bit of a blast going up. Some water was running down the path but there was always a place to put your feet and hands were used very little.
We arrived at the west top a few minutes later and after a few pics of that summit, headed off to the central summit, the current main summit. (approx. 3pm) I never bothered going to the east summit. (which seems as if it's of equal height!) If things turn out that the eastern top is higher then it's not all that hard to revisit. We took some photos and such, ate some more food before exchanging phone calls to arrange a lift home. (I did have to do work to get these lifts, by the way!) To be perfectly honest, Beinn a' Chroin felt like a bit of an "easy Munro" compared to the effort I'd put into any Munro in the past. Additionally, it was my tenth Munro. A small milestone, but nevertheless something good to feel about. I've always had a battle to climb any of my Munros. For every one I'd climbed until this point it was a tough 3000 feet of ascent through all sorts of weather. To walk down, up and along a ridge to another cairn felt easy, but I wasn't complaining.
We left for the col between the east and central summit. I just left the east top as I was eager to get down and used some snow piled into the gully to make a quick descent. Alex was cautious about descending the snow, yet after my antics of running down and sliding on my ass he decided to follow and it was a fun beginning to what was going to be a painfully long 6km along a boggy glen. There were few crags to bypass, although the route down the front of the mountain was tediously steep. It wasn't too bad however, and we reached the valley floor, and met up with the indistinct boggy path. Not much can be said about this part, asides impressive mountains surrounded us and Alex was being driven mad by the mud. Hmm... was this the best way to go?
After a long trudge through the bogs and then onto the track, we arrived at the car park at 5.05pm. Mum pulled up ten minutes later and we had a long drive back to Glasgow in a 15 mile tailback down Loch Lomond. That wasn't the best end to the day but it was enjoyable and there was some superb weather too. The day had it's moments of tedious descent and blisters but I look back on it as a success.
Beinn a' Chroin