Report on Buachaille Etive Mor
17 October 2009
Attendees: Gail, Robin and Dorothy
A club outing to the Brack had been organised and as far as we were aware it was only the three of us and Irene who had shown any interest in going. Irene texted on Friday to say she was ill and would be unable to go, so Gail and I suggested to Robin that due to the great forecast why don?t we try for something bigger. The Buachaille? Yes, he was up for it too and as Gail said, it?s not often we change plans due to good weather. It was now a case of quickly checking out some trip reports and printing a couple of maps.
Gail picked me up at 7.45 and then we picked up Robin on the by pass and headed off with quite a lot of mist and fog around but we knew this wasn?t going to last. It was a really nice drive up the A82, with all the lovely colours of autumn around. We parked on the very bumpy track leading up to Laggangarbh as all the spaces at Altnafeadh were already taken. Obviously we were not the only ones wanting to take advantage of the great forecast.
We were all suited and booted and on our way be ten past ten. We followed the track up past Laggangarbh and continued on this all the way up the coire. It was a really good track but why do they have to make those rock steps so big? I had read ChrisM?s report from ScottishHills.com and followed his advice to keep to the right as you get nearer the top and the steps take you right up to the sky line, avoiding the scree. We had met two guys who had turned back as they didn?t fancy going over the scree to the top, they hadn?t seen the steps. I don?t know how they could miss them. We reached the head of Coire na Tulaich and were rewarded with the most fantastic views. After a small break to take some photos we made our way up towards the first of the false summits. Again the path is fairly easy to follow and the higher we climbed, the better the views were. We reached the summit in 2 hours 5 minutes, and were well chuffed with ourselves. We had a snack here and a chat to some of the many others sharing the top with us. We could have sat here for ages as it was so warm but we knew we had to move on, we had another hill to conquer.
We made our way back down the rocky path to the beallach, still in awe of the fantastic views. We met a young couple from New Zealand who were having their first day in the Highlands. They couldn?t have asked for a better day. There was also a hillwalking group of about twenty young Americans who were studying at Edinburgh university. I have a wee story about them later.
The climb up to Stob na Doire was exhausting, it really was harder than Stob Dearg. Why is this not a Munro? I want to complain! It was a real slog but we got there and had a quick rest before moving on and passing the cairn that would mark our way down. We had a wee look here and didn?t like the look of it very much. Never mind, onwards and upwards to the top of Stob coire Altrium, now that wasn?t too bad. Another wee walk downwards before the final pull to Stob na Broige. Now that was really easy. Why is this a Munro? I am not complaining though! We were delighted to have made it and took some more photos before having another snack. It had taken us longer than anticipated, 2 hours and twenty minutes. Some stray cloud had been hovering and it descended here and obscured the views a bit, but that didn?t dishearten us at all.
All too soon it was time to move on and we headed merrily back the way we had come, looking out for the cairn that would point our way. We didn?t have to worry about missing it as there was quite a crowd sitting around getting ready for the descent. We had a wee chat and then started on this very steep path down through scree, loose rocks and muck. It was awful, I found it really hard going, we stuck to the old rule of five points of contact as we slithered down. Gail and Robin both agreed that it was the worst part of the day. We took it very slowly and very carefully but were still slipping and sliding all over the place. Some of the American students were in front of us and some behind when a rock about the size of a 1kg bag of sugar was loosened as Gail slipped, the rock went bounding down the hillside, gaining momentum as it went. We were all shouting ?rock!, rock!? as it was heading straight towards this young American girl. She turned around and just stared as it came right towards her. Instinct should have told her to jump to her left to miss it as it was heading towards her right side, but she stood like a rabbit caught in headlights. Just as well she did because about 6 feet from her, the rock hit the ground and bounced up, changed direction and missed her left shoulder by inches. It was really frightening, everyone had stopped moving and we all just stared. It was over in seconds but it seemed to happen in slow motion. There was really nothing anyone could have done. We caught up with them later on and she said she just couldn?t move, all she could do was stare. She could actually hear it as it flew past her. Thankfully everyone was fine and no damage done at all, but really had us worried as were coming down in case it happened again.
Eventually we were delighted to reached the flat ground of the valley, we had a wee rest here to let me get rid of the jelly leg feeling that always happens to me after a steep descent. Our happiness at being on the flat ground was short lived as we reached the bogs. There was a fair bit of hopping and jumping over these bogs and not a little cursing too. They had a good wee laugh at me after we had all just managed to cross the water without getting wet as I fell on a big flat stone and landed with such a loud slap. But I managed to get my own back when Robin followed our footprints through a deep boggy bit and his leg disappeared up to the knee. I really didn?t mind walking along the Lairig Gartain though as the views were lovely and the sun was beginning to go down so the colours were magnificent. We then had a wee walk along the main road to Altnafeadh then down to the car. We were tired but exhilarated, we had had such a wonderful day. They don?t come much better than that.
After a quick clean up we headed down to Tyndrum and the Real Food Caf? for some chips. We met Steve and Elaina who were here with some friends. We had a wee chat before heading home.