Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Tuesday 27 March - Ben Vorlich and Stuc a’ Chroin


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Early morning at Loch Earn

We were early and only one other car was parked at Ardvorlich on this perfect morning. I can never come here without momentarily recalling the tragedy that occurred back in 1977 or thereabouts. Camped by the loch we were jolted awake by screams but by the time we’d got out of the tent all was quiet. Someone had drowned.

Nor will I ever forget the fiasco on this hill one awful winter’s day in 1976 with Lynne, my then boss John and his friend Sandy. My boss’s wife didn’t walk so he was restricted to one day a month, maybe two, on the hill and this day was one of them foul weather or not. Sandy had forgotten his gloves and wasn't worried about that (he ought to have been) but half way up the hill he discovered he’d forgotten/lost his hat, left all his food, hot drinks and extra clothes in the car. The conditions were now appalling and he looked a sorry state – and a potential exposure victim for certain. My boss was unhappy at 'losing' his day out and muttered that he "hadn’t suffered enough” to allow him to retreat feeling satisfied with the day's effort. Down we came nonetheless.

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Ben Vorlich from Ardvorlich

Lynne and I climbed Vorlich and Stuc a’ Chroin later that summer.

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The track makes for fast progress and we gained height quickly today. Sheep in lamb were undisturbed by our presence, no doubt used to the hundreds that pass this way. I love sheep. True hill-goers.
I was slightly ahead of Lynne - we often walk in 'companionable silence'- but waited a short distance below the trig point so that we could go to the summit together.



A cairn lies some 100m along the ridge and we wandered across, chatted briefly to a solitary walker then left him to his peace and quiet after gazing in anger at the Braes o’ Doune windfarm in the distance. Poor Scotland.

 A 'cheeky wind', as Lynne put it, had us donning tops before having a hot drink, the scene dominated by our next objective Stuc a’ Chroin.

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I’d be about seventeen when my brother invited me to climb what I've always known as 'Y-Gully' with him one winter. He drove up from Ayrshire and I took the bus from home and met him in Callander. It was the most wonderful winter’s day and why his wife wasn’t with us I can’t remember for she was also a keen climber. As I recall,we approached the hill via Keltie Water and enjoyed a fine climb – my first proper winter route - and after we were back on reasonable ground put on short skis that we’d carried up (I had his wife’s!). These were very light affairs with no metal edges and I’d never worn skis before, so it’s fair to say that my brother skied back down the glen while I did the best I could, slowing down by the skilful technique of falling over – sometimes on purpose, more often unplanned. I was already hooked on climbing, but I could now see just how useful skis could be in the winter mountains and as soon as cash allowed (many years later unfortunately) took the plunge (as it were). A good decision [Edit: at that time skiers were regarded by climbers as being well down the food chain. Thankfully all that has changed]

Reminiscing over, we descended to the bealach.

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At the Bealach an Dubh Choirein we pondered whether to go straight up the rocky prow, our previous line of ascent, or follow the path which I knew would lead us into the 'Y-Gully' area. Staying in the sun won the day. Goodness knows we've spent enough time without it this year.

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.... and after a steep little climb we emerged on the ridge a short distance from the summit. A large-ish lump of snow from the old cornice broke off and hit me as I stood beneath it sagely advising Lynne, who was some way below taking photographs, to "move out of the line of this snow, it might be a bit unstable".  It was soft and no harm was done but lest the whole lot should go, I took my own advice. "For once", Lynne might add.





A short walk along this delightful ridge took us to the cairn and much lazing around.








Returning to the bealach the way we'd come (the sun won again) we took the path which leads to Coire Buidhe and rejoined the main route but, although this is a pleasant enough way to go and new to us, we agreed that a re-ascent of Ben Vorlich would have been preferable and a finer finish to a quite magnificent day on the hills. I hope to return next winter and maybe repeat 'Y-Gully' with Lynne (a doddle with modern ice tools), traverse the hill and go back over Ben Vorlich. It would be a great day.

Here are some stats and a map of the route. All images can be enlarged by 'clicking'. More photographs of this day out and of the Ben Chonzie day can be found here and can be viewed as a slideshow or individually.


Two sets because I'd failed to clear previous data and I was getting a warning about memory being low so saved this first before clearing.

Ardvorlich to Ben Vorlich

Ben Vorlich to Stuc a' Chroin and return to Ardvorlich

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Monday 26 March - Ben Chonzie (Ben-y-Hone)



It was difficult to believe that this was a March day and that for a 26 mile drive we could be in such surroundings.



We decided to take the route via the morraines at the head of the loch rather than follow the track further up the glen where heather burning was in progress. The worrying experience of being surrounded by smoke and fire when descending Beinn a' Ghlo many years ago wasn’t going to be repeated today.


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After crossing the Turret Burn the terrain was a mixture of deep heather and tussocky grass and we wandered at will to find the best line, aiming for the gap in the snow rimming the head of the corrie.

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From here gentle slopes would have taken us to the broad ridge and fence which runs all the way to the top of Ben Chonzie, but we opted for the 'direct' route since we planned to return by the ridge and possibly traverse the hills on the west side of the loch back to the dam. In the event we didn't!



A few others were at the top having come up from Invergeldie from where we’d set out to climb this hill in a white-out, some 35 years ago. Faint ski-tracks had appeared occasionally - those of my brother and his wife -  although we never met them. Clearly insanity runs in the family. On that day we touched the cairn and scurried off the hill as fast as we could.

Today we settled down in the shelter for a while before beginning our leisurely descent.

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A mountain hare kindly posed for us.

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An enjoyable trip.  Here’s the route and some stats from SatMap.

Ben Chonzie
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Monday, 26 March 2012

Where?

Name these hills and where was the pic taken from?

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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Spring

We've walked some 11km into the Ochils on this glorious spring day and now soaking up the sun above the Upper Reservoir. The call of the curlew for company; herons skim the water. Hard to move from here but.....
A few day trips to old haunts further north this coming week are planned then a holiday with the motorvan delivering a couple of parcels for our forthcoming' West to East' on the way.
Life is good!
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GPS jamming

Jamming of GPS will take place in parts of Scotland from 16 - 26 April during 'war games'. Full article here

Friday, 23 March 2012

What a coincidence

Read this then this and draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sparrowhawk

By the time I'd got the camera I could only get this rather poor photograph of  'our' sparrowhawk sitting on the bird bath. A few minutes earlier and I could have got one of her staring straight at me.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A reminder to us all

From BBC News - Scotland website

Stow hiker remains 'critical' after tent fume poisoning

 

"A hiker from the Borders remains in a coma in hospital after being poisoned by carbon monoxide fumes in his tent.

Phil Morgan, 49, of Stow, was missing for 24 hours on Minch Moor before he was found by rescue services on Thursday night.

It is thought he was poisoned by fumes from a camping stove or a gas light.

His partner Trudy Anderson has asked friends to record stories to be played to him in hospital in the hope he may respond to familiar voices.

Mr Morgan was reported missing after he failed to return home on Thursday."

Let's hope he recovers.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Gimme a break!

When will we actually get some decent weather up here? We are ensconced in the little shelter below Innerdownie on yet another grey day and the cloud has now settled well down on the tops.
I simply cannot remember such a long period - seems like since last October - without at least a smattering of sunny days.

Having just been instructed by Lynne to "cease broadcasting to the world, eat something or move" I shall end this brief post!

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Friday, 2 March 2012

Moy approved

The Scottish government has approved a 20 turbine wind power station at Moy near Inverness.
The developer appealed Highland Council's refusal of planning permission following the council's failure to reach a decision within the statutory four month period. How incompetent is that?

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