Snowy Ben Oss & Dubhchraig

4 02 2014

March 2010
After a couple of days at the Bridge of Orchy bunkhouse (the one attached to the hotel), Richard and I headed back down to Crianlarich to bag some Munros there. Although when we’d passed through Crianlarich a few days before the hills were more or less clear of snow, they now had quite a covering as it had snowed every night since. It was the final day’s walking of the trip so we decided we’d do Beinn Dubhchraig and Ben Oss…

(click on photos for full size/resolution)
We parked up at Dalrigh where there were quite a few cars already, however, many were either going off on the West Highland Way tracks or were mountain bikers. We set off behind a guy with a yellow pack and a couple both wearing blue. There is quite a long walk along a roadway and then vehicle-track and then we noticed the people ahead suddenly struck off to the right across bog towards the river.

“They must know the location of the bridge”, I thought… The boggy track reached the river bridge in a few yards – there had been a cairn where you turn off but it was just like us not to notice it! Once over the river, a fairly faint-in-places, wet path heads up through the very pretty natural woodland – Beinn Dubhchraig somehow looked a long way off…

As we headed up through the trees, I was admiring them but Richard was scowling behind as it was both a boggy and grassy walk – two things he hates. I kept noticing the mountain never seemed to get any nearer – I hoped Richard wasn’t noticing this as well as the bogginess or I’d have a revolt on my hands and end up walking alone! The three deer fences mentioned in the guide-books had long since disappeared…

After probably about an hour, we broke out of the woodland just above some waterfalls and continued up fairly boggy grass beside the pretty burn, me still smiling and Richard scowling even more. It was pleasantly warm and sunny out of the wind…

Beinn Challuim fm Beinn Dubhchraig ascent
Beinn Challuim from Beinn Dubhchraig ascent

Mr & Mrs Blue (as we’d taken to calling them) had zoomed ahead of everyone and we were getting quite left behind. Never mind, we were soon climbing onto the end of the ridge. Richard really started to lag behind now – I was musing on the fact that only yesterday, I’d been the one lagging behind on Stob a’ Choire Odhair as I’d been feeling terrible – now I was going great guns and the situation had reversed.

By the top of the grassy shoulder we reached the snow line and I stopped to wait for him – we weren’t far off the small shoulder with the lochan. I’d had a glimpse over the edge of the ridge to our future descent to the col between Dubhchraig and Oss and had started to worry. The slope down to the col looked really steep and also was snowy and looked like it could be icy.

Ben Oss fm Dubhchraig ascent ridge
Ben Oss from Dubhchraig ascent ridge – with the steep looking descent to col poking in on left!

Ben Lui over Ben Oss shoulder
Ben Lui over Ben Oss shoulder

We reached the lochan shoulder and I was just about to strike off up the snow on the ridge when Richard shouted at me to stop. He told me just to leave his flask and that he’d do Dubhchraig at his leisure and see me back at the lochan after I’d done Ben Oss!

After my previous quick glimpse of the apparent fierce descent to the col I didn’t want to be on my own so asked him what was wrong, hoping I could put whatever it was right. He said I was going way too fast, he was knackered and had no intention of doing Ben Oss as well. I promised to slow down (I think I’d been subconsciously competing with the people ahead as usual) and told him I needed him at least to get me down to the col. I also said we’d have a rest. I was wondering whether he didn’t really like the look of the snowy ridge ascent ahead as he’s no fan of winter walking…

Beinn Dubhchraig fm lochan shoulder
Beinn Dubhchraig from lochan shoulder

We had a quick break then he said to set off up the ridge and he followed. The snow was really great to walk on, firm with just the right amount of bite for your boots. In any case, I said, if we weren’t happy with the grip on the descent, we could put on our microspikes… The ridge seemed to be over in seconds and there was a very short walk across to the summit. The views to the South were precipitious but good – all the Arrochar Alps were in view, plus Loch and Ben Lomond. Further east and south-east there were great views of Ben More & Stobinian round to Ben Chabhair. We didn’t stay long however as I was fretting about the descent to the col…

The snow was fine to re-descend – perfect grip! We followed the little path to the left of the frozen lochan and towards the edge… I looked over… it was completely fine! I told Richard I didn’t need him for the descent after all but he said he’d come down and see how he felt on the col. A few minutes later we reached the col and headed to a sheltered area in the sun for a break, some cake and a hot drink. He decided he would continue…

Beinn Dubhchraig & lochan behind
Beinn Dubhchraig & Loch Oss

Beinn Dubhchraig corrie fm Oss
Beinn Dubhchraig Corrie from Oss and the hills to the north

Beinn Dubhchraig fm Oss ascent
Looking back to Beinn Dubhchraig

Ben Lui fm Ben Oss ascent
Ben Lui again

We went over a subsidiary peak on the ascent and said we’d probably descend via the normal route which traverses south round it.

Ben Oss East Face
Ben Oss and Subsidiary Peak

It was a steep haul up the grassy slope but pretty snow free. I was wondering how much descent we’d have to do before the climb up Ben Oss proper but, when we got there, we found it was barely anything at all.

Ben Oss fm subsidiary top
Ben Oss from subsidiary top

The next part of the climb was up firm, thick snow all the way. We plodded steadily upwards – our boots biting crisply into the snow. I was really enjoying myself and took a few photos on the way up. Ben Lui looked very dramatic off to our right!

Ben Lui fm Ben Oss north ridge

Ben Oss ascent snow patterns
Ascent snow patterns

Ben Oss - nearing summit
Nearing the summit

Suddenly, as the slope lessened, we found the snow disappeared completely and we came out of the biting wind into shelter and sun. We sat just down the back of the summit looking towards totally unfamiliar hills and were joined by the guy with the yellow pack who’d come up the normal route round the subsidiary peak – he looked up what some of the hills were (they weren’t on my Harvey’s map but were on the OS map he had). I commented on the two guys who’d gone off down the back to do Ben Lui and said I felt guilty that I hadn’t done the same – he said they were the two guys who had the charity minibus in the carpark – a 66 year old who was doing the Munros within just a few months.

I pointed out the various routes up the front of Ben Lui to an enthusiastic Richard – he is now keen to get at it – I wasn’t so sure however… Soon we said our goodbyes to our new friend and set off back down the snowy ridge, looking back we saw he was also coming back down. At the col between Oss and the subsidiary peak, we swapped routes – he went back over the peak and we traversed round it finding superb snowy routes down. At one point I looked at Richard to see how he was coping with his ‘hated snow’ and found he was actually grinning and having a great time too! I tried a bumslide at one point but just got a wet bum!

Ben Oss-coming back down
Looking back up

Ben Oss - looking back up from shoulder
From shoulder

The Pristine Stuff & water hole
The Pristine Stuff & water hole

Ben Oss-Footsteps
Footsteps

South fm Dubhchraig-Oss col
South to An Caisteal & Beinn Chabhair

We soon re-ascended back to the lochan on Dubhchraig’s shoulder, me eating icicles on the way up as I decided I had a moment’s thirst, and then we sat again in the sun, not wanting to leave the gorgeous weather and the superb snowscenes!

Beinn Dubhchraig-reascent&Arrochar Alps
Beinn Dubhchraig reascent & Arrochar Alps

I took some photos of Loch Oss looking sparkly in the sunshine and a long way down from the re-ascended shoulder:

Loch Oss diving board!
Loch Oss Diving Board!

Loch Oss fm Beinn Dubhchraig

Loch Oss fm Beinn Dubhchraig cornice

All good things have to come to an end however and we were starting to want our tea so we headed off back down the grassy ridge to the valley.

At the carpark I put some money in Challenge Guy’s charity box hanging on his wing mirror – hope it was still there when he got back! A superb end to our week’s Munroing and one of my best snowy days in the mountains ever! 🙂

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13 responses

5 02 2014
McEff

Another enjoyable post, Carol. You had a great day with some great views. I love the pictures of Ben Lui – that’s one of my favourite mountains. Climbed it by the north-east ridge donkey’s years ago and came back over Ben Oss.
Cheers, Alen

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5 02 2014
mountaincoward

Well my compleation walk in May is on Ben Lui so don’t forget, you’re welcome to come – watch this space for dates…

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5 02 2014
McEff

Blimey. You were quick with that reply. You must have heard me typing it. I’ll be watching the space.

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5 02 2014
mountaincoward

Just happened to be logged on 🙂

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4 02 2014
chrissiedixie

Looked like a cracking day that 🙂 Oh for a bit of sunshine now, instead of torrents of rain!

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4 02 2014
mountaincoward

Yeah – it was a few years ago and not a bad winter really. It’s been nice today here though – sunny all day – cold wind but otherwise great! 🙂

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4 02 2014
bob

Looks a great day out Carol.The way Richard and yourself interact is very familiar. Alex gets motivated by bagging- I just like a varied and interesting walk, at any level, preferably in sunshine and I’m happy to turn back if it looks too far away or starts to clag up over the summit as I lose motivation these days if there is nothing to see or photograph up there.
Mind you it would be no fun if everyone thought the same way. Not long to spring now as it seems to begin in late March these days.

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4 02 2014
mountaincoward

Richard has abandoned me quite a few times on the hill – the worst was at the foot of the steep and craggy-looking bit of Ben Vane – he just said “I’m not going up there” and buggered off! 😦

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4 02 2014
khanakool

Reblogged this on Khanakool.

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4 02 2014
fedupofuserids

Looks a fine day 😀 Great selection of photos too. I bet Richard was pleased he persevered – at least its just not me that has those days when I just can’t be bothered!

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4 02 2014
mountaincoward

He’s not a lover of snowy walks so I was surprised he persevered. I think he was glad in the end as we had a great day 🙂

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4 02 2014
smackedpentax

Another cracking tale Carol…I sooooo miss the snow and long walks – I haven’t had a proper winter walk for what seems like a few years now and I haven’t walked more than 5 miles since October. I am ceasing up.

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4 02 2014
mountaincoward

No, I haven’t even had my crampons or microspikes out once this winter. I could do with at least some winter walking before I forget what to do!
Carol.

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