Wednesday, April 23, 2008

48-50. Beinn Ghlas (47), Ben Lawers(10), An Stuc (34) 20/04/2008

We set off from the NT car park (already at 400m above sea level - heh) on another glorious day, unsure quite how far along the ridge we would get, since we had been informed that the third peak (An Stuc) could get a bit icy on its descent. We rapidly picked our way up through the lower slopes of Beinn Ghlas; the well made path through the flora and fauna of the nature reserve gave way to snowier slopes on which we followed the footprints of other walkers. Climbing steep slopes in the snow is easier, since you can kick your own steps and choose your own stride length (the snow was of a superb consistency!). Bein Ghlas gave a great view along the whole ridge and of our next goal: Ben Lawers. This was completely white with snow by virtue of the fact that it has 100m on any of the surrounding hills, but again this made the somewhat steep slopes easier. The summit cairn and trig pillar had great ice formations created by the wind. Speaking of which, the wind caused considerable buffetting along the slightly more exposed ridge towards An Stuc. A little anxious about whether it was safe to descend the NE side of the next peak, we asked some other walkers and they advised against it, saying that it was possible to descend one of the more gentle slopes and then walk around 100m lower down. What he didn't realise was though this idea was probably great in summer, it was now completely blocked by a cornice and wasn't possible, so after we reached the top, we descended NW as instructed and were then stranded with no way to continue onwards. This meant we had a tiring trudge through the snow back around to where we had climbed An Stuc - on the south side. Then we were able to drop down into the Corrie nan Cat and walk down to the Lawers Hotel for a nice cup of tea. So, while not quite as successful as we might have hoped, it was still a great walk along the ridge of 3 peaks.
Ben Lawers with An Stuc and Meall Garbh further along the ridge behind

Ice formations at 1214m

Looking back to Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas from An Stuc

The NE face of An Stuc taken on another day. This is what we had contemplated descending.


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