Ben More and its 3 Neighbours
Area: Loch Lomond to Strathyre
Munros: Beinn Tulaichean, Ben More, Cruach Ardrain, Stob Binnein
Date walked: 08/05/2010
Time: 7hour 40mins
With the weather forecast seemingly good for the west highlands, I decided I would try a more difficult walk then last week. This would cover the four munros in the Ben More group south of Crianlarich walking in from Inverlochlarig. So up at early at 0510 and set of about 0540. Arrived at Inverlochlarig at about 0705 just to see a herd of deer jump the fence across the road.
After kitting up I was on my way at about 0715. The weather was tremendous with glorious sunshine and there was no wind down at 150m.
I left the car park, crossed the style into the field across the road and headed on up the obvious path heading directly up the hillside. There is no “walk in” on this walk and I was quickly warming up as I climbed the steep hill. I worked quite hard but I was holding a little back bearing in mind the extra climbing I was going to have to do. At what I imagined was about 500m I checked my gps and it was stuck on 300m. The way I was feeling, if this was only the 300m point then I was turning around and going home . In fact my phone screen had froze so I had to reboot it and in doing so lost the first part of the gps track. Not to worry. Shortly after I crossed another style and continued upwards. the path meanders left and then right around some crags and then continues to follow the ridgeline all the way to Sthob Binnean arriving at Stob Binnein after about 4km from the start. The view were excellent and it was sunny but there was a cold wind blowing. This was to be the weather for the rest of the walk.Superb.
I then left Stob Binnein and headed down the steep North slope descending 300m to the Beallach and then climed the 300m up to the summit of Ben More. From the Beallach the climb up Stob Binnein looks extremely steep. There was a big snow slab on the south face of Ben More so I kept to the west side of it and walked up the grass and the rocks. I soon arrived at the trig point. Ben more has a trig point and a cairn further north so I also visited the cairn and stopped for some lunch. I have suffered from severe cramp on the hills in the past and in view of the 550m climb still to come up to Cruach Ardrain I took some salt with my lunch. I was making good time so things were going to plan. So pack up and on my way again.
I now retrace my steps to the Beallach from Ben More then head SW traversing across the steep west slope. This slope drops for 350m but is a bog most of the way down. Its slippy and hard work. Near the top I met two guys coming up the slope on there way to do Stob Binnein. They done Ben More last week and were coming back to do its partner. I traverse across to below the crags and arrive at the Beallach below Stobh Gharb. I look up Stobh Gharb slopes and think S*** Danrun went up that last week. I however have no intention of going up that way and scrambling over the crags, instead I walk along the Bealach throught the swampy ground and cross the burn. I now walk for another km South West keeping tight in but below the crags trying to stay on the 500m contour line, at which point I head West up the slope which goes all the way to Cruach Ardrain (It looks as steep as the slope up Stobh Gharb but without the crags). At this point I feel ok. My legs are a bit tired but I am walking ok and heading uphill at a reasonable pace. I am thinking at this rate things are going well.
However I get to about 350m below the summit and suddenly get cramp in my left leg. I Try to keep walking but after climbing another 20m I think I am in trouble. My right thigh is now also giving me some problems. (I had to come off Sgurr Fhuaran last year for the same problem. It was with in a day of this walk ). I stop consider my options. I can head back down the valley to the path. I look behind me and it is steep. No way am I going back down there. I check the map and its possible I could traverse south for about 700m and meet up with the path below Cruach Ardrain but looking at the terrain on the ground its steep and undulating and I would still have to climb. In truth the shortest journey is to continue to the summit. Ok, I then start taking small steps and traversing right and left for about 3 metres each pass and I seem to be able to cope. I am now moving slowly but I am gaining height. It takes a while but I soon join the path to the summit with only 30m to go. I almost collapse at the summit and have to close my eyes for a while. I feel like getting my sleeping bag out and going to sleep. I have another banana and some raisins but I don’t feel like eating. After a little while i start to feel better.
Contrast the initial climb on this walk of 500m which I done in about 30 minutes. This 500m climb took 1 hour 40 minutes.
Barely recovered I set off down the steep slope heading for Beinn Tulaechean. The climb up to the summit, which is really quite gentle, brings a bit of cramp back but its not bad and its now the walk out. I hated every minute of the descent down the grassy slopes. I initially lost the track and walked around trying to find it. I loose the track most of the way down and just have to head off down the lumpy grassy slope and after a seemingly long walk down I arrive at the road and walk the final km to the car. That was a tough walk.
I think the cramp was due to physical exersion and not salt deficiency or lack of fluids/nutrition.