Beinn Ime (again), Ben Dorain & An Dothaidh

21 01 2014

March 2010
As I currently have the ‘flu (despite having a flu jab) and consequently can’t go anywhere, this is the first of a series of three reports from an early-in-the-year Munro Bagging trip Richard and I did a few years back…

First stop was 2 nights at Arrochar as we had to re-do Beinn Ime! Although we’d already ticked it off, I later saw a photo of the summit ridge and realised we’d only gone, in the thick mist, as far as the first, slightly lower summit and not the main summit! Luckily I love the Arrochar Alps – this time I was hoping for some snow on the easy ascent slope as it would be good practice for Richard. In the event, there wasn’t any snow on the day but we made up for it later in the week.

(click on photos for full size/resolution)
We set off from our B&B right by the start of the path up the Buttermilk Burn. It was a nice, sunny day so we decided we’d probably take in the Cobbler via the route up its front on the way. However, just as we got to where the path branched off, it suddenly started blowing and raining and the cloud started to descend. We therefore continued straight on for Beinn Ime. As we rounded the corner we could see the tops were yet again in cloud.

We soon made it up the path which goes between the two tops and heads straight for the summit. I could see the summit was a great place and would have spectacular views but of course, yet again we had none. There was a lot of snow down the slopes of the far side though and a nice bit along the ridge between the two peaks so we decided to go back via our original ‘summit’. I’d also seen an interesting side ridge slightly below that which went out between a corrie and a valley so we went out onto that – there were some really interesting gullies down to the right. I could see the end of a loch and pointed it out to Richard saying that was the end of Loch Long where we were staying (wrong) and we could go back that way if he fancied a change.

We then returned to the bealach fence and decided to head down from the col NE into the forested side valley. At this point I should mention I’d completely forgotten to bring the map with the Arrochar Alps on – it was at home! It was a very steep descent down into the valley which Richard kindly scouted for me between the crags. As we progressed to the bend in the valley and were admiring Ben Vane ahead, I realised the Loch we’d seen the end of was actually Lomond and not Long! I didn’t dare tell Richard at that point but knew how far we had to go back via Glen Loin. As the forest road branched and I guessed correctly we needed the right-hand fork I broke it to him that we had a few more miles to do than we originally thought.

The next day it started out very wet so we decided to hunt for the famous Arrochar Caves in Glen Loin. We were helped greatly by the fact that the B&B lady’s husband was in the local Mountain Rescue Team and could give us good directions. The red flags were flying at the shooting area just before them so we thought we’d have to turn back but the gentleman putting up the notices kindly said we could go through and they’d look out for us on the way back.

We were soon at the fascinating caves – three levels of them. Very slimy in the wet but great fun to explore – just a shame we didn’t have a flash camera. I was very excited at finding this piece of mountaineering history as of course they have been used by the famous ‘Creag Dhu’ climbing club since the 1940s – and no doubt many others. We then went back and picked up the car for our trip northwards. (See my Arrochar Caves blog post for the night I later spent in the caves).

We then decided to try to find somewhere to stay at Bridge of Orchy – at first it looked like just the hotel but they were really expensive. Then on the way back to the car, I noticed the bunkhouse behind the hotel and persuaded Richard he could try one for a couple of nights. We managed to get a 2-bed room which made him happier, dropped our baggage off, and then drove round to Victoria Bridge carpark as I wanted to scout out the routes to, and the look of the ridges up, Stob Gabhar. We had a nice sunny stroll up as far as the ‘tin hut’ and I chatted to a nice guy from the Paisley Club about the various route choices – he’d just come from Stob a’ Choire Odhair.

Beinn an Dothaidh from Victoria Bridge
Beinn an Dothaidh from Victoria Bridge (above) Beinn Achaladair (below)
Beinn Achaladair fm Victoria Bridge

That night, gale-driven hail and sleet battered on our window all night… We looked out in the morning and the snow was more or less down to the road, as was the cloud. I thought that would be it as Richard wouldn’t want to go up anything in such conditions but, surpringly, he said why didn’t we do the two hills opposite (Ben Dorain and an Dothaidh). We set off up the burnside track – me with microspikes and ice-axe and him just with the spikes.

We followed a couple who were pulling away from us all the way up but then found them taking a break on the col when we got there. The snow had just been wet stuff so far and was melting rapidly in the clearing weather. The couple said they’d let us go ahead as we were ‘faster than them’! I said I didn’t think we were but we’d start off first anyway. We did keep ahead on the next bit which, after the first slabby bit of ascent, became a firm layer of nice snow about 4 inches deep.

Ben Dorain's slabby descent to col
Ben Dorain from Col
Ben Dorain from Col

Beinn an Dothaidh over Ben Dorain lochan
Looking back – Beinn an Dothaidh over Ben Dorain lochan

After a steep rise, Richard was following a slight path in the snow to the right of all the bumps but pretty near the big steep ‘drop’ over the road – I wasn’t keen and was stabbing my ice axe in to my left every step. Eventually I left him to it and went back up on the ridge-top where I was much happier until we both reached the rounded ‘summit’ with the large cairn. I’d read that this wasn’t the actual summit so wasn’t surprised to see the actual, much smaller summit across a narrowish neck. I thought it looked hairy as it looked like you climbed up some rocky bits to get onto it but it turned out okay – it still wasn’t quite my sort of place to hang around though so we headed straight back to the larger-area summit behind us for a short break.

Beinn Dorain's actual summit
Ben Dorain’s actual summit
Ben Dorain's summit surprise!

Glen Lochay hills fm Dorain
Glen Lochay hills

After a quick coffee we were ploughing back down to the bealach again… or at least Richard was ploughing down happily in the snow. I was hanging back and going quite a bit more cautiously while watching the guy ahead who was supposed to be afraid of snow on mountains!

Ben Dorain descent to An Dothaidh

At the bealach we headed straight off up onto Beinn an Dothaidh. The path raked around to the right across steep ground until easy grassy slopes were above us which it then turned left to ascend… straight into the bogs! We looked for a drier and more rocky line to the left of them and ascended until several summits hove into view… We stood for a minute wondering which was the true summit – I remembered it was the middle one but we seemed to have 4 peaks. We decided it was the nearest one to our right which had a large cairn and headed off for it, by now in a fiercely cold NW wind but in sunshine.

Looking SE fm Beinn an Dothaidh
Looking back to Dorain and the Glen Lochay Hills

As we reached the main summit, I decided the peak to our right was a beautiful shape and was along a beautifully corniced ridge so wanted to go there instead. This was just as the other couple arrived and asked which was the true summit. When I said I thought we were stood on it, they just decided they were only doing that one and soon headed back down. As the other peaks were so near I couldn’t see why people didn’t want to do them all! We set off along the ridge to the far peak which had superb views down to the col with Achaladair and also Beinn a’ Chuirn and the Glen Lochay hills.

Beinn an Dothaidh-cute NE summit
Beinn an Dothaidh’s cute NE summit

Beinn Achaladair from An Dothaidh
Beinn Achaladair

Beinn Achaladair descent to col-Chreachain behind
Beinn Achaladair with Chreachain behind

I asked Richard if he was going to visit the far NW summit but he said not so I told him to wait out of the wind and in the sun on the dry grassy bit of hillside we’d come up while I did it – it was another great viewpoint with a beautiful quartz boulder on a huge flat rock for a cairn and was only just lower than the main summit.

Beinn an Dothaidh-looking to NW summit fm main summit
NW summit from main summit

View across Beinn an Dothaidh's NW top

Another party came up and headed for the pretty NE peak, followed by the main summit, and then descended again. We started off down behind them…

Creag Mhor behind an Dothaidh
Creag Mhor, Glen Lochay from descent

We rattled back down quickly to a sheltered spot in the sun just above the bealach and had a longer break before heading back to the bunkhouse and our tea in the hotel. As usual we found we had totally different tastes in mountains… I’d liked Beinn an Dothaidh and the promenade around the tops best and he liked Ben Dorain…

That night the high winds and sleet started battering on the window even more than the night before…

See next post for part 2 but, before you go, have a read of this link if you want to know why vegetarians are against wearing silk!

The Dark & Disturbing World of Silk!

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13 responses

24 01 2014
bob

I know a few folk who have had the flu jab and felt bad afterwards( even a couple of weeks later) as it’s like a milder case of the actual flu injected into you. Hope you get better soon Carol.
Good range of photographs. The Arrochar Alps are surprisingly unspoiled after 100 years of hillwalking and really steep in places.
£25 quid a night for a bunk house!!! I’d sleep in a tent first, even in winter.

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24 01 2014
mountaincoward

Unfortunately this was the full-blown flu – the jab just obviously didn’t cover the variety I got. My jab was back in October anyway… I don’t think I’ve ever been so ill – I was awake all night last night literally trying to cough myself inside out but nothing would come out of my chest – it’s literally solid. I can’t walk uphill at all so I’m going to have to drive to work all weekend instead of walking 😦 I hate driving short distances.

Yeah the £25 per night was pretty expensive but at least we got a 2 person room I suppose which is reasonably rare in bunkhouses I think. But it was really £18 per night BUT you have no facilities whatsoever to make any kind of food so you have to buy a breakfast off them at £7! 😮 For what I eat in a morning, that’s more than extortionate!

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23 01 2014
lanceleuven

You have the flu despite having had the jab? How rubbish! I hope you feel better soon.

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23 01 2014
mountaincoward

I’m not chuffed about it – better luck next year eh! I’m improving very slowly but it’s made mincemeat of my chest unfortunately…

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22 01 2014
fedupofuserids

I take it your no better?

On the plus side you’ve dug out some great photos – I really like the look of Beinn Dorain from the road, I suppose I’ll have to get my finger out and give it a go!

Everything seems to have sneaked up in the last few years from holiday cottages to campsites, at least fuel has come a down a few pence 🙂

Cheers Simon

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23 01 2014
mountaincoward

I think the Bridge of Orchy Hotel has been expensive for a long time – pretty captive audience just there and I think they get coach parties too…

I’m staggering about outside a bit but can only manage short walks of about half an hour or so just yet. Got to start walking to work again tomorrow night – up a big hill!

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22 01 2014
stravaigerjohn

Get well soon – and lovely pictures by the way.

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22 01 2014
mountaincoward

thanks John – I think I’m mending slowly…

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21 01 2014
McEff

Very good that. Took me back because Ben Dorain was one of my early Munros, and it’s a fine-looking mountain when viewed from the road up to Bridge of Orchy. I climbed it one very misty day, but on the summit the clouds suddenly parted to reveal an absolutely marvellous view. Didn’t have my camera though. Hope the flu leaves soon. It sounds pretty nasty.
Cheers, Alen
PS One very wet night, after getting washed out of the tent, I opted for the B of O Hotel. It was £17 for B&B. That was 1979. I bet it’s a bit more now.

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21 01 2014
mountaincoward

It is a bit more than that now – more like £80 per night! 😮 Even the bunkhouse was £25

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21 01 2014
McEff

Blimey. Back to kipping in the car, I think.

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21 01 2014
smackedpentax

Great post Carol…I have always fancied a bit of Monro Bagging, but I am too old now and anyway would find it very difficult to get time off work. Which is why your posts are great…they allow me to Monro Bag without leaving my armchair! I’ll look forward to the next post. Hope your flu gets better soon.

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21 01 2014
mountaincoward

I’m starting to improve thanks – after completely drowning the bed sweating it out several times last night – I ended up with just a very small section on the very edge of a double bed to sleep on by the morning – ugh!

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