Monday, May 07, 2018

189, 190 Binnein Beag (230), Sgurr Eilde Mor (123). 29/04/2018.

With a couple of cold sunny days forecast, we had the perfect opportunity for a walk that had been in the pipeline for many years. In those days I was a little fitter, so I hoped we weren't being over-ambitious! The quantity of snow left above 900m also added an unknown amount to the difficulty factor, but in the end that had little effect.

With tent and winter sleeping bad in the pack, we set off up Glen Nevis along the 'best mile in Scotland' to the alpine meadow beside the Falls of Steall. Here we attempted to recreate a photo from 6 years earlier from a previous hill walk (to the amusement of other walkers) and then proceeded East towards the far end of the Mamores ridge. Along the way we saw many nationalities represented hiking in the Scottish hills - obviously a recommended area for tourists.

Just before starting to climb, we had a crossing of the Water of Nevis to negotiate. After searching for a little while for some steps and deciding the depth was more than boot level, we decided to wade it. It was a nice day for it and Ben made it across without a hitch. I decided that I could do with throwing my boots across so they wouldn't unbalance me (I was already a little bit precarious with a large pack). The distance wasn't great and I have prowess in the welly-wanging department, so it should have been a cinch. However, whilst my first boot easily had enough force behind it, the trajectory was a little on the high side and it was deposited somewhere near the middle of the river. I had to snap Ben out of his fit of laughter to quickly stop the boot from sailing off downstream. A sense of dread came over me as I contemplated the next two days with a waterlogged boot, but miraculously the weight distribution of my boot came to my rescue and I pretty much got away with a dry boot. Descending for its extreme height (the trajectory wasn't even close to right), the boot had managed to land sole-first in the water and then float rather than tip over and be filled with water. More boat than boot (although they are fairly similar with a Scottish accent). Needless to say, I managed to learn from this ignominious start and the second boot had no trouble in getting across (more hammer throwing technique than welly-wanging, to those familiar with highland games techniques).

The ascent up to the plateau where we would eventually camp was quite slow with our big packs, but we had plenty of time. Once at this level, we were able to deposit our packs for the final 200m of ascent to Binnean Beag, which was much appreciated and from there we enjoyed uninterrupted views of all of Lochaber. There was a little snow on the path round to Sgurr Eilde Mor, but nothing too much to worry us. Once again we deposited our bags on a prospective campsite and climbed the remaining slightly steeper section to the summit. Again, full summit clarity and not a breath of wind. From the top we were able to convince ourselves of our choice of tent pitch and the route onwards the following day.

We started setting up the tent at 5pm, around 7 hours after leaving the car. The spot was great, next to a frozen lochan and on a soft bed of moss. After some pasta and a wee dram of whisky we slept like babies for a good 10 hours. Definitely one of the most comfortable campsites I've ever found, although temperatures dropped well below freezing, so I was glad for the winter sleeping bag!

 Binein Mor from SEM

 The Grey Corries and me from BB

 Attempting to recreate our former selves

 Looking steeply down on our campsite from SEM

 Ben may have forgotten a mug for his tea...

A fantastic pitch-er


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