Luib Weekend – Almost Beinn an Lochain

Beinn an Lochain

Conrad was musing recently about the merits, or otherwise, of a mountain day without a summit view. Sometimes my mountain days don’t even stretch as far as a summit. Does that matter?

Every year, we head up to the Highlands and every year GM suggests it might be nice to climb Beinn an Lochain from the vicinity of the Rest and be Thankful pass. Is it an unticked Corbett on GM’s list perhaps? Of course it is. Or was: this year he overcame our resistance and we found ourselves booting-up in the lay-by a little north of the pass, close to the foot of Beinn an Lochain’s north-east ridge. Freezing easterlies were once again going to be the dominant feature of the weather, but the sky was a fabulous blue and the views were stunning. Looking along the crag girt ridge to the snowy summit of Beinn an Lochain it was hard to see why it had been so hard for GM to persuade us to head this way.

Binnien an Fhidhleir, Creag Brosghan, Stob Coire Creagach

So, as you may have guessed from my opening salvo, we proceeded to not quite climb Beinn an Lochain. The hills in this area all look superb and I was to photo all of them repeatedly, each time in the hope that this particular combination of light and shadow, viewpoint and cloudscape, would give the most flattering image. (Hover your mouse over the pictures for the names of the hills.Or click on them to see larger versions on flickr)

Beinn Chorranach, Beinn Ime

All went well, if a little slowly, since it was necessary to move at the pace of the slowest member of the party (ie me).

Ben Donich

The view along Glen Kinglas to....

Inevitably, we picked a spot which was possibly a tiny bit more sheltered than everywhere else and parked for a brew.

Butty stop

The weather changed incredibly rapidly. Blue skies turned black. Ben Lomond disappeared behind what was evidently a snowstorm, then the closer hills were enveloped in cloud and then snow was falling heavily around us.

Ben Donich.

The first shower lasted for perhaps twenty minutes and then, just as rapidly, things cleared up again.

Beinn Chorranach, Beinn Ime, Beinn Luibhean

Binnien an Fhidhleir, Creag Brosghan, Stob Coire Creagach

Finally, we reached a point where the ridge levelled out momentarily and then steepened considerably. On the map below you can easily pick out this point, it’s where a couple of contours indicate a small hump on the ridge, just above the 600m contour line.

The ridge steepens

The path skirts right, underneath the substantial crag. I’d been examining the route as it came into view and I felt that the large, steep patches of lying snow which seemed to span the route ahead would me more than I wanted to tackle in my borrowed micro-spikes. When I caught up with the rest of the party, it was to discover that two of the others had, like me, had second thoughts. So, whilst three of our party continued, three waited and watched for a while.

The weather closed in again…

Beinn Ime and neighbours disappear.

….pretty soon, two more had turned back. Deterred apparently by a short, steep climb out of a gully, where a slip would have almost certainly led to a very long fall. Who continued? GM of course: up to the top and down the far side to the head of the pass to meet us.

The snow fell thick and fast as we descended, but we had one more window of bright sunlight as a temptation to take yet more photos of Beinn Ime…

Beinn Chorranach, Beinn Ime

And did it matter that I didn’t make it to the top? Well, it would have been nice, without a doubt, to get there, but it didn’t really detract from a very pleasant, short day’s walk.

Beinn an Lochain Map

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Luib Weekend – Almost Beinn an Lochain

11 thoughts on “Luib Weekend – Almost Beinn an Lochain

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      For me, definitely. In honesty, looking at the last part of the ridge from by the car I’d already prepared myself for potentially turning back.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Hi Gale,
      I don’t visit Scotland’s Beinns half as much as I would like to, but this regular late winter/early spring trip is a cracker.

  1. I sit here now thinking I was a bit of a wuss for not tackling the summit. I’ve climbed much harder but it just felt wrong. As you say it was a cracking walk regardless of whether we got to the top or not and that’s the main thing. We should do more in that area.
    Top drawer weekend as always

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      We should definitely do more in that area – the hills in every direction looked magnificent. On the turning back front – I think if it felt wrong, then you did the right thing to turn back. There’ll be other days and other summits.
      I was quite surprised that Old Father Sheffield carried on with you – his boots didn’t look that rigid, I’m not sure I would have felt confident about using them with crampons.

  2. It’s never a wrong decision to turn back if it doesn’t feel right. The hills will always be there another day! Much as I love my microspikes, I certainly wouldn’t want to be contouring around on steep snow and ice in them – strictly trail type stuff only.
    Lovely photos by the way 🙂

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Yes. GM is a mountain rescue team member (Cheviot). I think it would have been embarrassing for him if any of us had ended the day as rescue statistics.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Thanks Alan. I’m trying to get out and about as much as possible. Forecast is not too promising for the coming weekend however. In fact, there are gales howling around the house even as we speak.

  3. […] We trundled back to the car, another heavy snow shower briefly turning everything white before saying fond farewells and heading for our various homes down south. I drove to the other end of the pass, snapped a few photos under more blue sky, collected GM and reluctantly headed home. You can read ED’s version of the day here […]

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