Our blog - Lawers Munros, Jan'17A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !
Lawers Munros21-23 January 2017
Three crisp days on the Munros surrounding Ben Lawers. Emma O'Shea was leading, here's a tale of the days ...
Day 1 Meall Greig to Beinn Ghlas over Meall Garbh, An Stuc and Ben Lawers
What a superb day! After a little bit of car juggling we set off from Lawers village through the mist headed for Meall Greigh. We broke into bright sunshine above the top of the forest and the blue skies stayed with us all day. The visibility was exceptional. The climb on steep grass was rewarded with an ever-increasing panorama, and an increasingly blustery southerly wind. Unusually for a southerly wind it was surprisingly cold and soon had us wrapped up in all our layers. We tucked ourselves out of the wind on the summit to enjoy the views, there were mountains as far as the eye could see, above an impressive cloud inversion which stayed in place all day over Loch Tay and south across the glens and straths towards Central and Southern Scotland. The next summit was Meall Garbh where we found sufficient shelter to eat some sandwiches and get some hot drinks inside us before the challenge of An Stuc.
Below An Stuc we had a refresher with our crampons and ice axes as much of the ascent was covered with patches of hard, frozen snow. We were lucky that the crags sheltered us from the biting wind as we tackled an icy ascent of broken snow and rock. Once up the awkward step the wind really caught us on the ridge and wearing crampons on mixed ground is always challenging. A few gusts had us flattening ourselves to the ridge before the final steep snow climb below the summit. With just enough excitement to get our adrenalin pumping we were very happy to reach the top! Our next summit was Ben Lawers, the 10th highest mountain in Scotland, it wasn't going to disappoint today. Often a busy place, we had the mountain to ourselves, more photographs and food followed before the descent towards Beinn Ghlas. We reached Beinn Ghlas just before the sun started to set and the setting was magnificent. We made it nearly all the way back to the car park before the rapidly encroaching darkness led to a couple of headtorches coming out. It was a truly magical day!
Day 2 Meall a'Choire Leith and Meall Corranaich
After yesterday's long day we were very happy to make use of a high start point of 600 metres today. The route across the bogs towards Meall a'Choire Leith was firmly frozen and we enjoyed an early piece at the second stream crossing. Nick who was fresh legged made light work of the ascent up to the summit, with the rest of us following behind, though the mist did descend as we ascended and we were unfortunately not rewarded with any views.
The wind however was very light and after the blustery conditions of yesterday it was a pleasure to stroll along the ridge being able to hold a conversation with each other without shouting! We had a few glimpses at the saddle into the glen below, but were soon enveloped in thick mist as we made our way up onto Meall Corranaich. There were a few patches of hard, icy snow to cross, but again very little for the time of year. The final section to the summit narrows, and makes for great walking.
On the summit we met a couple of other hillwalkers whilst we were enjoying our lunch in the mist, and after a few photographs we made our way down the south westerly ridge towards the Ben Lawers car park. As we dropped out of the mist we decided to continue along the rolling crest exploring some of the knolls and small crags as we went. It was an early finish and after retrieving Rolf's car from the top of the road the Pitlochry headed crew opted for a pleasant drive down Glen Lyon and a visit to the Fortingall yew tree, the oldest living known tree in Europe, on their way home.
Day 3 Meall nan Tarmachan
The hills were turning pink as the sun rose as we drove along Loch Tay, it was a beautiful blue sky morning. After kitting ourselves up we started the gradual ascent onto the ridge with fantastic views in the morning light. Cathy was keen to do some micro-navigation on the way up, looking for some contour features and the rest of us were happy to simply enjoy our last big climb of the three days. The wind was brisk on the Munro top and we opted to press on before we stopped for some sustenance just below the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan.
The snow patches were frozen hard so we took the opportunity to do some crampon practise on the steep slopes before continuing onto the summit. The Tarmachan ridge is magical, and today it looked magnificent. There was a sprinkling of fresh snow across the ridge and the way ahead looked incredibly enticing. Meall Garbh is the highlight of the route, a sharp, pointed summit, with narrow crest it is always a delightful place to be. Given the icy conditions we chose to circumnavigate the awkward step on the way down, but left our rucksacks at the bottom and had some fun scrambling back up through the small crags.
Winding across the ridge the weather was changing to the west with skies darkening and a westerly wind strengthening. The changing conditions really added to the atmosphere as we followed the twists and turns on the way to Beinn Each. With reluctance we began the steep descent down towards the saddle below Beinn Callich and found a sheltered spot tucked in behind some boulders for a late lunch. The descent continued through the grassy corrie before joining the quarry track for the walk back to our start point and the end of three excellent days on the mountains.
More photos by Emma are here on Flickr.
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