Return Creise – it’s Just Not Cricket!

1 10 2014

Tue 2 Sep 2014
Due to the weather not sticking to the forecast, this walk didn’t turn out anything like the way I wanted it to and I ended up with my bottom lip quite a long way out in a sulk!

(All photos are from the first visit as there was nothing to see on this one!)
On the second day of my 3 night stay at Crianlarich, at the lovely Suie Lodge Hotel, I decided, on the basis of the cloud level again being low for the second day (it was supposed to be great weather), to do an easily navigable route to the northern top of Creise as Richard and I had missed it last time.

We’d done the long slog up Meall a’ Bhuiridh – the skiier’s mountain (Richard even taking the chair lift up the first steep 1000 foot section) and then we’d cut across to Creise, diverting to the top of Clachlet on the way. It had been a lovely day and I remember seeing this top, Stob a’ Ghlais Choire, from Creise but, as it was quite a long way off and a largish descent down the ridge, I thought Richard wouldn’t wear it so we missed it out. I was about to regret that…

While re-crossing the interesting narrow ridge between Creise and Meall a’ Bhuiridh last time, I’d been absolutely fascinated by views north into the Cam Ghleann – in places, it was basically a glen with no floor! The river was in a deep gorge for a good part of the V-shaped upper glen and the glen sides were exceedingly steep – it looked great. I determined to visit sometime.

Cam Glen &Creise

Cam Glen ravine

Cam Glen(full length)

This time, as I had to re-visit Creise and didn’t have the courage to ascend via the fearsome ‘Sron na Creise’, nor the inclination to reascend the boring Meall a’ Bhuiridh, I decided to try to get to my peak via the Cam Ghleann.

Sron na Creise!
Sron na Creise

I drove around to the Glencoe ski centre and, just before parking up in their carpark, had a little diversion to the end of the Glen Etive road to peer at Cam Glen. The cloud was so low I couldn’t see anything further than the grassy slopes ascending to the start of the glen. After quite a few minutes indecision, I decided I’d be foolish to head up the glen without knowing what my exit from the glen to the ridgeline was like. Reluctantly, I decided to ascend via Meall a’ Bhuiridh after all and try to see where I could descend to the glen from the connecting ridge between the mountains after bagging my top.

In the carpark, I grumpily booted up, glaring at the immediate very steep start up the scrappy and loose path under the chair lift. Should I get the chairlift I wondered? After all, I’d done the ascent before so it wouldn’t be cheating. A quick look at the £10 price soon put me off!

I stomped off up the steep slope… Last time, when Richard was on the chair lift, he seemed to take ages to pass overhead and only just made it to the top of the slope before I did. My age has obviously caught up with me in a big way over the last couple of years however as, this time, many people passed overhead – I was nothing like as fast as before 😦

On arriving at the plateau at the top of the chairlift, I saw the summit was occasionally clearing the cloud momentarily – it looked a long miserable slog – I remembered it was. Oh well… onward and upward.

Meall a Bhuiridh

Buachaille-The Chasm
These are what the views are like from the ascent when you can see!
Glencoe Sentinels

I followed argocat tracks as far as I could up the grass as I disappeared into the mist. I remembered we’d previously followed a path all the way but, after the vehicle tracks finished, I couldn’t find any kind of path. That was okay until I reached the last few hundred feet which just consist of a surface of loose rocks – with it being misty, these were now very slippery – ugh!

Various skier-warning posts appeared out of the mist and I could see they were heading in a line directly for the summit so I followed these up – they would be very helpful if I had to re-descend this way later. I was hoping I wouldn’t but, just in case, took compass bearings to aid my descent.

Quite soon, I reached the summit where the cloud layer was much thinner, lending the summit area a cheerier atmosphere as it was much lighter and almost sunny – I could tell there was a sun up there somewhere anyway…

Deer bathing
Last time we were up there it was so hot and sunny the deer were bathing en-masse in the corrie loch below us!

I sat for a brief break while I got my compass out and checked the bearing for the ridge across to Creise – you definitely don’t want to get that bit wrong as there is exceedingly steep and loose ground all around if you miss it.

The south-east ridge was fairly apparent in the mist and, pretty soon on the descent, a path appeared. The path is quite loose to descend and, with the misty voids on both sides, I was feeling a bit intimidated and was quite grabby all the way down. The ridge widened near the bottom however and became much firmer.

Clach Leathad &saddle

I crossed the col, worrying about what I’d think to the scrambly ridge up to Creise in the mist. I needn’t have worried… last time I’d really enjoyed this section and found I was enjoying it equally as much this time. I was also worried about re-finding the top of the ridge on my return as, if you don’t find it, you won’t get off the ridge on the eastern side at all and it would probably necessitate a western descent and long walk back round!

I was soon up on the ridge where I was comforted to see there was a large and memorable-looking cairn. I still thought I’d be best to time my walk across to the summit of Creise for my return though – it was exactly 12 minutes. As it was slightly uphill, I thought my return would be 10 or 11 minutes – I’d start looking for the cairn at 10.

Meall a Bhuiridh fm Clachlet
Meall a’ Bhuiridh from Creise

It’s an easy stroll to Creise and then a long but easy descent, with a decent path, towards my desired top of Stob a’ Ghlais Choire. At one point, the ridge became grassy but quite narrow and I hoped it wasn’t going to get scary.

The path was very close to the edge in places and, after the scraping I’d given my bum-bag flask pockets on Ben Cruachan the day before, I was worried about my flask dropping down the huge void. I put a hand under it along the section which was closest to the edge. When the path headed away from the edge into the middle of the ridge, I removed my hand from under the flask. About one minute later, I heard a dull thud and looked behind to see my flask lying on the ground. The only place I could think to carry it was stuffed inside my coat as it definitely won’t fit inside my small pack.

Soon, a fearsomely narrow rocky lump reared up in front of me – must be my top! I hoped it was easy to get onto – things rearing out of the mist often look intimidating and this did…

On arriving at the foot of the steep cone, the path easily tackled the edge of it and there were no problems on the very short ascent to the summit cairn. I didn’t bother sitting in the mist but just re-descended and headed straight off back up for Creise.

It was an easy climb back up the ridge and then along from Creise to my cairn which took me 11 minutes to reach – I was relieved to see it. I’d started to meet quite a few walkers along this section and we all grumbled about the weather forecast being wrong. One of them told me a horror story of having missed the actual ridge to descend from Meall a’ Bhuiridh and coming down the lethally-steep and loose sides 😮 The descent back down the scrambly ridge went very well and I had a break for a coffee in the thick mist on the col.

I then went to peer down towards Cam Glen for routes down into it. Unfortunately, everywhere I looked disappeared into the murk down exceedingly steep and rocky slopes – some of them loose – and I decided it wasn’t a great idea to try to get down into the glen after all. That meant I had to re-ascend to Meall a’ Bhuiridh and follow exactly the same route back to the car – how boring. I became very grumpy again!

Meall a Bhuiridh saddle

I was further miffed that, now my flask was inside my coat, I had to keep my coat on – I never climb with a coat on unless it’s pouring down. By the time I’d puffed back up the rocky ridge, I was steaming. At Meall a’ Bhuiridh’s summit cairn, I again sat for a while. It was still mistily sunny just there and I had a nice rest and a coffee and took my coat off to unsteam. Quite a few of the walkers I’d met rejoined me at the cairn – they’d obviously only done Creise and not my top or Clachlet. They might all live to regret that if they decide to bag tops after all – I was seriously unhappy to have done exactly the same route four times!

Happily, on the redescent, I found the path leaving the summit and it took me through the wet rocks and about half-way down the hill before it disappeared in the grass somewhere. That was around the time I’d dropped back out of the mist though so I was happy enough to just plod down the grass and refind the argocat tracks. As it was sunnier down here and the little side peak of Creag Dhubh had now cleared the clag, I decided to make a brief diversion to that – I’d always wanted to do it.

Two other guys had been descending by me and they cut straight down to the boggy area across the corrie for the top of the chair lift. I noticed that they weren’t much quicker on their short-cut than I was on my short extension.

Creag Dhubh was very pleasant and had a track leading back to the top of the chair lift for my loose and nasty redescent of the very steep path to the carpark. This was far worse in descent and made my legs pretty tired. It’s not great that, as soon as you’ve descended this section, you arrive back at your car – very bad for the legs as they don’t get any kind of cool-down.

I was miffed again as I watched various mountain bikers descending on the great paths which have been made for them while we’re left with a crumbling, tatty path. I suppose they pay to take their bikes up on the chairlift though and the centre don’t get any money off walkers as such.

They made a little money from me though that day as the cafe was still open so I rushed in to get some cakes and a nice bottle of fizzy water and sit guzzling in the carpark 🙂

Stats: 10 miles, 4283 feet of ascent, 6 hours

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12 responses

12 10 2014
Mark

A well related tale. The grassy rake up Sail Mhor, would I’m sure, get plenty of traffic if it wasn’t for delights of Coire Mhic Fhearchair. As for the rocky cleft coming down Coinneach Mhor it can be hard to find. A pal of mine gave up on a misty day.

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12 10 2014
mountaincoward

Are you saying there was an easier way up that Bad Step?

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5 10 2014
McEff

There’s an old and unwritten Scottish law that says Creise and Meall a’Bhuiridh have to be climbed on days of low visibility. That’s my experience, anyway. I took the same route as you. Except for a brief break in the clouds when I was on the summit of Creise, my only other memory is of crossing the connecting ridge and having a sense of very steep drops on both sides. I’d like to see it under clear conditions.
Cheers, Alen

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5 10 2014
mountaincoward

I guess we were lucky the first time then – shame I couldn’t do my Cam Glen route – I’ll definitely be going up into the glen to see it sometime though…

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5 10 2014
Tessa Park

I’m still to do Creise – we did Meall a’Bhuiridh in winter and ran out of time to carry on (I’m not convinced the exit ridge to Creise would have been a nice proposition in snow anyhow)

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5 10 2014
mountaincoward

It probably wouldn’t have been bad actually. It’s good in that there’s always a big boulder or rock right behind you and never a drop if you slip.

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5 10 2014
fedup

Great photos Carol 😀 although sadly from a previous visit , may have to bump this one up the list !!
Cheers 🙂

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5 10 2014
mountaincoward

It’s not a great walk to do the same way 4 times but there and back once is fine 😉

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3 10 2014
bob

I think I’ve scrambled into that deep gorge years ago in late May. It had house sized blocks of old snow sitting in it and we wanted to practice front pointing and crevasse rescue rope work in preparation for the Alps trip that summer.
Shame you had poor visibility Carol. That was probably around the time we were on Skye and it was similar murky conditions on the Black Cuillin while the lower hills near the coast and away from that area stayed clear.
The gorge leading up the nearby Stob C an A is a brilliant easy scramble as well and has excellent rock scenery throughout with only one awkward bit climbing between two large boulders halfway up . No exposure in this gorge but it’s one of the best of its kind anywhere. Good way up if in Glen Etive and you have the moral support of a friend ( it helps to stand on said friend once at the boulder problem :o)

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3 10 2014
mountaincoward

Stob Coire an Albannaich? I’ll have to get the map out to look that gorge up – have you got a Grid Ref for it? It sounds interesting.

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1 10 2014
chrissiedixie

Although you had no views on the day you describe, I really like those photos in the post – especially the one with the deer in the loch! I didn’t know deer did that kind of thing 😀

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2 10 2014
mountaincoward

No, we didn’t know they did either. It took us ages to figure out why the surface of the loch seemed to be moving in slow-swirling patterns (we’re both fairly blind).
Carol.

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