Beinn Mhic Chasgaig and Creise
The weather had been superb a few days leading up to today and I could not resist the temptation of getting out – white hills, blue skies and no wind was too much for me!! The forecast was to remain the same for today – or so I hoped!!
The excitement got me out of bed at 05.00am (with help from one of my children waking at 04.30!!) and off I went up the road towards Rannoch Moor and Glencoe. Due to the fact that I am making my way through the Corbetts I decided on Binn Mhic Chasgaig as I reckoned this would give great views of an awesome area in such fine conditions. I also planned on prolonging the walk should the forecast be correct and head up Creise which I had been on a few times before.
Driving up and past the Black mount and Rannoch., I decided to stop and get some pictures in as dawn was approaching, it was looking great !!! Today could just be one of those days!!!
I parked up at the single car space near the bridge over the River Etive at Alltchaorunn and ran down to make sure the big gate across the bridge was not locked – I did not fancy a swimming across the Etive!! It was open so I head back to the car and got kitted up. Strangely there was a stiff breeze when I got out of the car – this was not forecast!!! However it was to be the only wind I experienced all day.
I got going – it was about 07.20. Across the bridge and there were a couple of rather large stags on the road to the cottage but a sign takes hikers across the moor and bypasses the cottage to regain the pain up the side of the Allt a’ Chaorainn. You soon reach the point where the two streams meet, after going past some fantastic – almost aqua pools – then start heading SE up the Coire Ghiubhasan, heading towards a small wooded area.
Here you head across the Allt Coire Ghiubhasan on a small wooden Bridge (read PLANK across the water!!). It is good fun and with some wire hand rails to steady you it is not really too scary (even though there was a coating of ice!)! Across here then steeply up the bank on the other side to regain the path. The sun was now starting to rise and although hidden from it in the depths of Coire Ghiubhasan, the surrounding mountains were shining as the early morning light struck there summits. Looking back down the Coire and Bidean shone white on the horizon and the cleft of An Grianan looked impressive.
My route was to take the eastern spur beside the gorge heading up into the Coire Aitell. However I had to cross the stream again and this was more difficult than it looked!! The freezing temperature had put a thin and very slippy layer of Verglas on all rock protruding from the stream i.e. the ones you usually try and step on. So normal logic was washed away as I tried to step on the rocks which were under the water line!!! Across I then headed steeply uphill. This was the steepest part of the day, however the views just got better and better as I gained height – no paths here but the ground was well enough frozen to enable easy walking!! The gradient eased as the route started to turn to an easterly and head towards the summit. There were more larger patches of snow now but still I did not feel the need for crampons. I reached the rocky summit at 09.30am and what a place. Views were breath taking- no wind either and in the sun it felt warm. I stripped down to my T –shirt here and took in the views whilst having my second breakfast!!! Glencoe looked great as did Starav and Cruchan, Mamores etc etc. Only Creise was blocking the view further East – time to remedy that!!
I head off SE to the col at 698m – I had to stick the crampons on here as the snow and angle required good practise. The ice axe was also deployed!! Got down then another hike back up – although the snow line was higher up I kept the crampons on as the ground was frozen solid with a lot of water ice. Up I headed in my T-Shirt (not a frequent occurrence in mid February!!) with the sweat pouring off. I took my time – no need to rush on a day like to today – perfect conditions!!
I reached the summit around 11.00am ish and spent a good 45mins on top – also heading across to the northern top to take in the vistas there too. I had been up the nose of Creise many moons ago and was trying to recall this whilst there. The views to Stob Dearg were awesome- in fact the views in all directions were breath taking some of the best – (maybe not quite as special as my recent Torridon experience though ??? close one though!!). The only thing missing from today which would have made it perfect was a temperature inversion with cloud!! The inversion was there ok but not a drop of cloud or fog – still a 9.5 out of ten from me!!!
I reluctantly headed down back to the col and then very steeply down into Coire Odhar – note – this is a very steep and pathless descent in what seems like an area not frequented too much!! So I was being extra careful and must admit I felt relieved when I got across the frozen water (yep rocks still frozen And slippy! Onto the path!!
With no wind I was once again heating up on route back and for the last 30mins had no water to drink. This made the Turquoise pools so inviting and I reckon on a hot June day would have gone for a swim in these – maybe another day! Back to the car for about 13.00. It had been 6.5hrs well invested!! Memories and photos to remember!
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...