Binnein Beag - 943m
Monday 21st May 2012

Weather/Conditions: A stunning morning - clear skies (though a bit hazy for distant views), cool air, warm sun. Spring in full flow.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 13.5km / 850m / 4h 20m
Accompanying: Alone

This was the last day of my wee trip, and although it hadn't gone to plan, it had certainly been eventful. I left James' place early to get back to Glasgow in good time. Binnein Beag was my last Mamore as yet unclimbed, and all going well it would be a quick hit.

I parked up at the Glen Nevis road end even before sunrise, it was half past four in the morning and the glen and hills were still in cool shade. Then as I headed through the gorge, dawn broke out; first on the glowing summits, then casting a searching eye down the slopes in search of the shaded corners of the glens. The birches were just sprung in their spring greenery, yet the hillsides were brown and the mountain tops snow-capped.

I followed the glen up into it's more desolate upper reaches - the trees and crags curiously disappear further up, and you emerge out of the gorge and An Steall area to realise you've just travelled through something very special. Binnein Beag was above, guarded by a 600m-high slope and just waiting to be picked off.

I crossed the river and headed on up. It was a long plod to the top, up grasses initially then over some scree and boulders to the top. Binnein Mor and the Nevis Range were the centrepieces, clean cut against blue sky, guarding a sense of peace and perfection in the mountains. The summit was a place of calm silence, a piece of the sometimes incomprehensible stillness that pervades the mountains on such mornings.

I travelled back roughly via. my route of ascent, via a thousand little decisions remembered vividly at the time, yet forgotten soon after the fact. The morning matured as I walked back through Steall Gorge. I felt the pull of Glasgow and felt the freshness of the glen brought into focus by the sadness of leaving such a place. I envied those who made the move to Lochaber and made this place their home, vowing that one day I should do the same, too.

I had a little incident on the way back - I got distracted by the massive boulders choking the gorge and went over for a quick look. I dropped my bag on the path and scrambled across to the boulders, which although bone dry, I could hear the deep rumble of masses of water thundering below. I bridged across two boulders that choked the gorge with my feet, intent on reaching the other side. And then - looked down, saw the gap between the boulders, realised the inadequate smears I'd placed my feet on. I heard the rumble of waters unseen, a shuddering grumble from the pits of the gorge. And there below there was a letterbox gap between the boulders that would swallow me whole and carry me under should I make a simple mistake. Right here, right now. Don't screw up. I nervously teetered back across the gap and gained safety. Danger can be in the illusion of safety, so was the case here. The greatest learning experience had not been on the hill at all, but on a quick and innocent curiosity at the very end of the day.

I headed south and got some photos in Glen Coe on my way home. As per usual, a little corner of me was sad to head home so soon. And yet, it of course would not be long before I was back.

Photos: Binnein Beag


360° Panorama

Binnein Beag
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 4.35am Glen Nevis parking
(2.30) 7.05pm Binnein Beag
(4.20) 8.55pm Glen Nevis parking

Written: 2015-04-13