Bidean and Bheithir

Bidean nam Bian and Beinn a'Bheithir, 27-28 April 2019

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. In the Glencoe area for two days of hiking and scrambing up the big Munro peaks on Bidean nam Bian and Beinn a'Bheithir Richard Kermode was leading.

Bidean nam Bian and Beinn a'Bheithir

Day 1 - Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach

We met up in the rapidly filling up car-park down Glencoe with the cloud mainly above the summits. After ensuring we all had ice axes for our planned descent into the Lost Valley where there were still substantial snow fields we set off up Bidean nam Bian. It was pretty warm work as we climbed up Coire nan Lochan though the temperature was falling along with the cloud by the time we were heading for Stob Coire nan Lochan. We even had some flurries of light snow at times, though we were afforded glimpses through the cloud to the Aonach Eagach and Glencoe as we descended the southern ridge towards Bidean nam Bian. There was much banter as we walked along and soon the steep summit ridge to Bidean was behind us and we enjoyed a cup of tea on the highest summit of the day.

It was cold in the wind and cloudy so we opted to head along the ridge and look for some better shelter for a good lunch stop. Voices drifted out of the clouds so we knew there were other walkers out there behind us, but hadn't seen any since the initial ascent. Shortly before the bealach that would be our route down to the Lost Valley we found some shelter and it felt like the sun wasn't too far away either. After some food and meeting some more walkers who passed us while we ate we continued having a good look down our snow filled descent route. An adventure would be on the cards!

We reached the top of Stob Coire Sgreamhach to get some lovely views down the Lost Valley and out towards Buachaille Etive Beag and Loch Etive. It was still cool, but the views were a real treat having been in the cloud for quite some time by now.

It didn't take us long to get back to the top of our descent route were we put on some more layers, stowed the walking poles and took out our ice axes. By now there were plenty of other walkers about heading up Sgreamhach, but it appeared that nobody had gone up or down our route yet. The cold black of wind don't help, but once we had got established safely on the snow we descended steadily in pairs enjoying the dramatic situation as we went. It was a brand new challenge to some of the group and everyone rose to the occasion even when several other parties started following us or trying to stay on the cliffs at the side.

We were glad we had our ice axes anyway and as soon as we were off the snow we continued down into the impressive Coire Gabhaill aka the Lost Valley. Just after a wee spot of afternoon tea the rain began and we walked through the stunning arena in the drizzle and occasionally more before it died off as we descended the gorge that guards the Lost Valley. It was a cracking day and some of us even had an ice cream from the van at the carpark!

Day 2 - Beinn a'Bheithir, Sgorr Dearg and Sgor Dhomhuill

The ascent of Beinn a'Bhethir would be a very different day to Bidean nam Bian ! Firstly we were only a small group of three and secondly it transpired that the forestry in Glen a'Chaolais and specifically the route up to the bealach between the Munros was closed to walkers whilst they do extensive felling and work. So we opted instead to scramble up Schoolhouse Ridge from Ballachulish chasing the clouds along the way.

It was much warmer today and a steep climb to the rocky ridge so we moved steadily enjoying the views back down to Loch Leven and Ballachulish. As we reached the summit we met the cold winds and thin clouds so traversed the beautiful ridge over Sgorr Bhan to Sgorr Dhearg with limited views.

It was pretty cold at the top so we decided to descend and look for some shelter for food and drink. Halfway down and the tops began to clear and we found some boulders to sit down behind and enjoy the landscape reveal itself.

The walk and scramble up to Sgorr Dhonuill was glorious with sunshine and even shelter on the top with views to many of the surrounding summits that were now clearing including Bidean nam Bian and Ben Nevis along with many more. More walkers appeared in the distance and we met some whilst having lunch at the bealach. We enjoyed a sunny descent and walk back out on the forestry tracks in the glen watching clouds building wondering if the showers were going to arrive. I don't know if they did, as we finished before then and took some refreshments to round of a lovely day.

Pics by Richard Kermode and Yvonne McCabe

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