Beinn nan Aighenan
Thursday 19 July 2012
17.5 km/1097 m/09:00 hrs
Munro: Beinn nan Aighenan (No. 244)
For this trip I had a rather ambitious plan: On the first day I wanted to climb Beinn nan Aighenan, Ben Starav, Glas Bheinn Mhòr and Stob Coir an Albannaich, then camp on the bealach between Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall Tarsuinn. Day 2 would take me over Meall nan Eun and then on a nice ridge walk to Stob Ghabhar and Stob a’ Choire Odhair – but it didn’t quite work out that way!
It was another gorgeous summer’s day when I started from the car park near Victoria Bridge – sunny, hot and windless.
Walking along the Abhainn Shira.
Looking back, the Bridge of Orchy Munros in the distance.
Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall nan Eun, seen across Loch Dochard.
On the path along Loch Dochard I got bitten by clegs several times (through my baselayer!).
Approaching Beinn nan Aighenan, I had to decide if I would continue into Glen Kinglass and ascend from the south via Coire a’ Bhinnein, or take the direct route straight up the hillside from the east.
Derelict bridge across the River Kinglass.
But an arrow on the ground directs walkers a few hundred metres downstream…
… to a new, solid bridge.
I had decided to take the direct route from the east, but I had underestimated how steep the hillside was!
I made very slow progress, the heat was getting to me and the midges were driving me mad. Further down the slope I had stopped to apply Smidge, but they were still swarming around my head and landing on my face. I stopped again to get my headnet out of the rucksack and put it on. Now I had another problem: I was sweating even more and I could hardly see where I was putting my feet!
At least the views were nice – Lochan na h-lùraiche and Loch Dochard.
It was a great relief to arrive on top of the ridge, and I think if I should ever climb Beinn nan Aighenan from this direction again, I will use the path from the S along the Eas a’ Bhinnein.
Instead of climbing over the various lumps along the ridge on my right, I decided to traverse Coire a’ Bhinnein.
View down into Glen Kinglass.
On my approach to the summit, grey clouds accumulated and it started to drizzle…
… while over Loch Dochard and Loch Tulla the sun was still shining.
Ben Starav, my next target.
It was already after 17:00 when I finally reached the summit of Beinn nan Aighenan, which was well behind my planned schedule.
I was just going to settle down for a break beside the cairn when I was startled by a hill runner with a small dog who suddenly appeared behind me. She had come up from the Glen Etive side, but I had not expected to meet anyone else on the summit at that time of day.
Coire Hallater and Loch Etive.
On the descent to the bealach I met another couple who were on their way to Beinn nan Aighenan, they had also started from Glen Etive and were planning to include Glas Bheinn Mhòr as well.
Coire na Caime and the start of the River Kinglass.
Approaching Bealachan Lochain Ghaineamhaich, Ben Starav on the left.
Around 19:00 I arrived on the bealach below Ben Starav. The whole trip so far had taken me a lot longer than I had estimated, it was still raining and it had become clear that I would not reach my intended camp site tonight.
I was indecisive about what to do – one option was to camp on the bealach and climb Ben Starav tonight, then I would only be “two Munros behind” my schedule. But after wandering up and down for a while, I just couldn’t find a suitable camp spot. Another option would have been to leave my rucksack on the bealach, climb Ben Starav, collect the rucksack and continue along the ridge, hoping to find a camp site on the way.
But I wasn’t keen on desperately looking for a place for my tent later at dusk, in the dull weather the daylight would fade quickly and the ascent of Ben Starav might also take me longer than expected.
In the end I opted for the easiest alternative: An early night, hoping for drier weather in the morning. From the bealach I descended in a southerly direction until I reached one of the contributary streams of the Allt Hallater, and nearby I found a flattish area on the soggy ground to pitch my tent.
Ben Starav, Glas Bheinn Mhòr, Stob Coir an Albannaich + Meall nan Eun
Friday 20 July 2012
23.7 km/1146 m/12:30 hrs
Munros: Ben Starav, Glas Bheinn Mhòr, Stob Coir an Albannaich + Meall nan Eun (Nos. 245 – 248)
And indeed, the rain had stopped when I packed my tent up in the morning. I climbed back up to the bealach and left my rucksack behind a boulder, then I started the ascent to Stob Coire Dheirg.
View along the Allt nam Meirleach and into Glen Etive.
But suddenly clouds started swirling around the ridge I had just ascended.
Ben Starav’s N ridge, the standard ascent route from Glen Etive.
The ridge connecting Stob Coire Dheirg and Ben Starav’s south top.
Beinn nan Aighenan just before it got covered in clouds.
As I approached the summit, I was surrounded by clouds. Luckily, I could just catch a quick glimpse of Loch Etive.
But when I got to the summit, I had no views whatsoever.
I was quite disappointed, as the summit had been clear all morning, and I had been looking forward to look around from this great viewpoint. I sat down and waited a few minutes, hoping the clouds would lift, and for once I was lucky and they did (they normally don’t, or they do but only some time after I’ve left the summit!).
The N end of Loch Etive, still a bit hazy but better than nothing!
On my way down, I passed some interesting pinnacles.
The descent route, with Glas Bheinn Mhòr ahead.
Stob Coire Dheirg.
On the bealach, I collected my rucksack and continued up to Meall nan Tri Tighearnan.
Looking back to Ben Starav.
The wide ridge leading to Glas Bheinn Mhòr.
The summit of Glas Bheinn Mhòr – by now Ben Starav was in the clouds again, but not for long this time.
Glas Bheinn Mhòr’s E ridge, with Loch Dochard and Loch Tulla in the distance.
Approaching the bealach between Glas Bheinn Mhòr and Stob Coir an Albannaich.
When I came closer, I could see an eroded path zig-zagging up the steep hillside (centre).
Looking back at the descent from Glas Bheinn Mhòr.
After the initial steep bit the rest of the ascent to Stob Coir an Albannaich is on easy-angled grassy slopes.
View N from the summit.
The summit of Stob Coir an Albannaich.
View NW from the summit.
Buachaille Etive Mòr.
From the summit I followed the E ridge for about 500 m.
My next target Meall nan Eun, and Meall Tarsuinn, an intermittent top.
The easiest way down to the bealach is marked by a small cairn.
Looking back up to the ridge.
View back from the bealach – the descent route is along the diagonal line on the left-hand side.
The ascent of Meall Tarsuinn is a pleasant walk over easy-angled rock slabs.
Approaching Meall nan Eun.
From Meall nan Eun’s wide ridge I could see down to the Làirig Dhochard. My original plan had been to descend to this bealach and then climb up to Meall Odhar, the top above it (and then along the ridge to Stob Ghabhar and Stob a’ Choire Odhair).
But the opposite hillside looked impossibly steep, at least for climbing it with a big pack, and I decided against this route – the last two Munros on the ridge would have to wait until another time.
When I reached the summit of Meall nan Eun, I sat down to have a look at the map. I didn’t feel like walking back and descending to the Làirig Dhochard, and tried to find a more direct route down.
Although Meall nan Eun looks like a very rounded hill from the distance, all its sides (apart from the western approach) are surprisingly steep. In the end I decided to try the eastern spur, turning in a more NE direction further down.
The descent turned out to be harder than it had looked on the map, the terrain was extremely steep in places, and I had to make a lot of detours when my way down was blocked by crags.
Looking back at my descent route – I don’t think I will use this route again in a hurry!
When I finally reached the glen, the sun came out and there were even some glimpses of blue sky.
The walk along the Allt Dochard, Loch Dochard in the distance.
Coire an Lighiche, a deep gully on Meall nan Eun’s SE flank.
By the time I approached Loch Dochard, the weather had improved significantly and it had become a sunny and warm late afternoon.
Foxgloves by the river.
A last look to Meall nan Eun.
Meall an Araich.
Instead of using the footbridge at Lùb Sùil na Curra, I crossed the river at the fords. The first one was almost dry, and the second one has large stepping stones.
On the last stretch of the path to Victoria Bridge, the low sun created a beautiful light over the Bridge of Orchy Munros.
Although I didn’t manage to do everything I had planned on this walk, I enjoyed most of it (apart from the midges and clegs) and it gave me a good reason to come back soon for the two remaining Munros near Victoria Bridge!