Petestack Blog

13 July 2013

Sweat, clegs and northern Munros

Filed under: Running — admin @ 1:28 pm

So they keep telling us on the radio what lovely weather it is, but who’d say that while not just caught somewhere between frying and boiling on the hills but fighting off wave after wave of cleg attack?

Arriving at Inchnadamph at c.1:45pm (?) on Wednesday, I sweated my way up Conival, Ben More Assynt and the latter’s south top before retracing my steps over Ben More and contouring Conival (probably no quicker than reascending, but divertingly different!) to run back the same way.

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On Thursday I almost got a head start on the sun by starting up Ben Hope not long after 7:00am (?), but was still cooking soon enough. And, while the ‘narrow northern ridge’ recommended by Irvine Butterfield as ‘by far the best way up’ might initially have seemed underwhelmingly broad and unexciting, there was no mistaking the ’30ft section of steep rock [which] gives spectacular scrambling’ when it finally arrived. For sure it’s avoidable by a gully (just left of centre in the ‘hope2’ photo) for those phased by the prospect of (allegedly) V Diff above a huge drop, but you simply can’t have your cake and eat it by dodging the exposure on the actual step. So the path peters out rightwards above the void (bigger/steeper than anything you can see in the ‘hope4’ photo taken from just above the nose) and a fall from the starting moves would surely kill you, but working back up and slightly leftwards from that dizzy stance (where the ‘direct’ route referenced elsewhere might or might not take the hideous right wall?) quickly brings a series of smaller steps and ledges at maybe (don’t take my word for it!) Mod or Diff…

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So that was Ben Hope and, having descended past an increasing stream of walkers missing its (to me, unexpected) grandeur by toiling up the normal ‘tourist’ route, the obvious analogy that springs to mind is Ben Nevis north face vs. pony track. But, with the sun up and Ben Klibreck still in my sights for the same day, I was quickly heading back up the road to collect my van and move on.

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Not really got much to say about Ben Klibreck except to endorse Butterfield’s assessment as ‘a bland hill’, though one redeemed (as so often with otherwise duller hills) by much runnable terrain and, being as isolated as any northern peak, another splendid viewpoint. And I met just two others (one of whom took my trig-point photo) on this madly hot afternoon (NB long trousers and sleeves for insect/sun protection, though I did take off the hat to run down!).

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And so to Am Faochagach yesterday morning, which was now (spot the theme to this trip/blog post?) my last unclimbed Munro/Top north of the Ullapool road… and thank goodness I’ll never have to do¬†Am Faochagach again! Dull as ditchwater and a long way from the Glascarnoch Dam (which route still looked a better ‘run’ than the shorter, potentially more awkward alternative from the west end of the loch), though perhaps partially redeemed by splendid views of the ‘Deargs’, Seana Bhraigh, Ben Wyvis, Fannichs and An Teallach, it’s surely never going to be anyone’s favourite and I was surprised to pass one walker on his way up over Tom Ban Mor as I ran down to complete the 14+ mile traipse by c.10:15am. So who wants to climb Am Faochagach at all, let alone on a day like this? Apparently not just me… though at least I got it out of the way quickly (5:50am start) and almost cheated the sun this time!

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