Buachaille Etive Mor

Although we’re halfway through the year, it’s been a while since I attempted a ‘proper’ climb. You know the ones; hills that push your boundaries and leave you absolutely done-in at the end of the day? Walks where you come home to a mountain of washing but actually, you’re too knackered to care? Well it’s been a good few months…

I recently joined a walking group that my friend Claire was in. They have been walking together for nearly a year now and I’ve managed to tag along on a couple of walks and climbs recently. The most recent walk I joined was in Glen Fyne and I hinted heavily to Vince, “if you do the Buachaille again, can I tag along?” (more of a heavy request than a hint I admit…), “Of course” he says and I presume that it won’t happen soon. Fast forward a few days when a message comes through on the group chat “anyone fancy doing the Buachaille Etive Mor on 3rd June”. I jump at the chance and the butterflies start… I read the Walking Highlands description: hmmm, I do like a bit of a scramble and I’m keen to bag this as munro number 18…

20170620_132437

Black Rock Cottage with Buachaille Etive Mor behind

20170620_134330

Stag at Kings House Hotel, backdrop of Buachaille Etive Mor

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (12)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

I meet my climbing companions, Vince and Joe on an overcast Sunday morning. We jump in Harvey RV, stopping at The Green Welly for supplies and loo breaks, looking out for blue patches in the sky which seem to making an appearance. Parking at Altnafeadh is already busy so we park slightly further up the A82. The Buachaille stands tall and menacing and the butterflies haven’t calmed down. Excitement gets the better of me and I shriek a little bit as we pull up. My companions offer a smile and I realise I don’t know either well enough to show my true psycho-on-the-hill colours yet… I best calm down.

As we had parked a bit of a distance from the main track, a bit of cross country was required taking us across the river and through the heather, we arrive on the track with my legs well and truly warmed up.

Vince-Buachaille-Etive-Mor (5)

Photography by Vince Bertonesi

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (19)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

The entire climb is steep with stones in all shapes and sizes underfoot. Roars of motorcycles on the A82 drown out my complaints and frequent stops are requested so I can catch my breath. I state that if I need to go back down, they must let me go alone. I don’t think I have uttered those words before but I mean it. “A mountain has never got me yet” I say, a bit alarmed at my own confidence… It is mostly beautifully pathed but easy to navigate if you come off. Basically, you just head straight up to the bealach. We had snow to aim towards the snowy patch that day.

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (14)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

When I first started to climb I had been used to long distance walking on low-level ground, slightly undulating at best. The muscle group you use on an incline is totally different and the 15–20-mile distances I had been undertaking had given no preparation at all. The first few climbs, the legs were able but not the lungs, then the lungs caught up, then overtook and the legs struggled with the pace. Eventually, both lungs and legs found a happy medium and I could walk more capably and content. This had been the case since my 4th or 5th climb: until the Buachaille. I really struggled, and although my recovery was quicker than when I first started climbing a couple of years ago, I was surprised to be back at ‘stage one’ on this hill. Still, I had no intention of turning back though, wobbly legged or not…

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (5)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

The last scramble to the bealach was quite an encounter. I was terrified and exhilarated at the same time and my gallant companions kept offering hands to help and to carry my rucksack to which I declined. Although my mind kept wandering to the thought of losing balance with a heavy pack and the consequences, it did keep my mind on the job in hand. I feel if the climb is too easy, awareness can dilute and then accidents happen. I have had a couple of (very small) tumbles in the silliest of places due to blethering and looking at the scenery!

Vince-Buachaille-Etive-Mor (1)

Photography by Vince Bertonesi

The most difficult part is complete! Vince knows (and has climbed) most of the surrounding mountains and tells us which is which. Of course, I immediately forget but the information was great! The final part of the journey is an easier walk and we swing a left (East) and walk to the summit of Stob Dearg. Beautiful views are absorbed, sandwiches are consumed, photographs are taken, ravens are befriended.

Vince-Buachaille-Etive-Mor (3)

Photography by Vince Bertonesi

Vince-Buachaille-Etive-Mor (2)

Photography by Vince Bertonesi

 

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (20)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (17)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (16)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (15)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (1)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (8)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Packed up, we head back the way we came via the ‘scary’ scramble but we all survive. As we descend, we are serenaded by the echoes of the ravens, possibly telling us to stay away from their nests but it was beautiful whatever they were saying.

Just as we arrive back at the van, the heavens open and high Buachaille Etive Mor is covered in mist. The drive home in torrential rain involves extreme concentration and I don’t realise that my 30 miles an hour had caused a considerable tailback. Sorry Glen Coe’rs… And my hands did not slip from the ten to two position, it was that kind of driving! With enough adventure under our belts for the day, I drop off Vince and Joe, thank them for their patience and the invite to climb. I think they breathe a sigh of relief as the drive has made their legs wobblier than the mountain

And the big pile of washing? Well, they can stay another day. Now pass me the corkscrew…

WalkHighlands – Buachaille Etive Mor walk description

And a BIG thank you to Vince and Joe who were incredibly considerate and patient with me!

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (4)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Buachaille-Etive_Mor (3)

Photography by Kate Lyon / Rambling Scotland

Advertisements

About Rambling Scotland

Driver of Harvey. Walker of the wilds. Quaffeur of Prosecco. ... In that order
This entry was posted in Spring Walks and Wanderings and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s