Wednesday, 29 November 2017


Beinn Lui summit
Ben Lui ranks as the finest mountain in the Southern Highlands. A magnificent, isolated Munro near the village of Tyndrum.  This graceful, symmetrical and magnificent hill screams out to be walked or climbed. Under winter conditions it is truly Alpine in character. On Wednesday the best of the sunshine was to be in the deep South West corner of the Highlands. So I took the long journey to Tyndrum from Aviemore in search of sunshine, blue skies and a stunning mountain to climb. I wasn't disappointed.
The classic view of Ben Lui from Cononish
The walk in from Tyndrum village is moderately long but an excellent four wheel drive track up Glen Cononish is quite quick and even faster with a bike. Who could not get excited at the wonderful view of the mountain all the way up through the glen? The view of Ben Lui's main feature, Coire Gaothach, and its two main bounding ridges are outstanding. As the sun rose the pink Alpen Glow on the ridges brought the mountain to life. Enroute you pass an equally spectacular hill, Beinn Chuirn which rises above the farm of Cononish.
Sunrise on Beinn Chuirn
Alpine Ben Lui
The snowline was down to around 450m and unconsolidated. Once into the Coire it was hard going. I couldn't believe that there was no sign of any passage up the hill, on a day like today! In the centre of the coire lies the start of the classic grade I winter climb, Central Gully. I've climbed this many times and a brilliant way to the top. I did contemplate taking this route today but the snow conditions dictated otherwise. It would have a been a hard slog in the current snow. More crucial was my avalanche awareness decision making kicking in. So I opted to walk up on the Northeast bounding ridge and headed to the outlying wee summit of  Stob Garbh. It was wonderful feeling the sunshine on my face as I broke trail up shin deep snow.
The Stob Garbh ridge
Eventually I toiled up onto the ridge line. The view of course was spectacular. To the North and East lies the entire Glencoe range and Ben Nevis. The ridge was still hard going in the soft snow. A full cover of snow all the way along the ridge. There hadn't been much in the way of winds here over the last few days. The views into the coire are, of course, spectacular.
A distant Ben Nevis from the ridge
Looking East to Ben Lawers
Ben More and Stob Binnein and the buttress of  Ben Lui
The final section of ridge steepens up toward the summit for the last 100m or so. Absolutely stunning scenery. The rocks were completely rimed  up and banked with snow. The summit of Ben Lui has two tops with hardly any drop between them. The highest point is the southern top at just 3 metres higher than it's northern summit. It was here that I spotted two guys just in front of me who had come up from the Glen Lochy side of the hill. Most guide books and internet sites give this way to the Munro as ' the route up'. Amazing really, look what they miss! The views from the highest point are just stunning. There are an amazing number of Munros seen in a stupendous panorama. The air clarity today was superb. The cold NW airflow bringing very clear visibility. The winds were cold but it was a day to sit on the summit for lunch and take in the view.
Ben Cruachan (left) from the summit
Ben More and Stob Binnein from the summit
I eventually tore myself away and headed down and back to Tyndrum. Many folk would be keen to bag the other three Munros in the vicinity: Beinn a' Chleibh, Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhcraig. Not me, not today. It was a day to savour Ben Lui. The finest mountain in The Southern Highlands.
Ben Lui summit and Ben Lomond
Late afternoon sun on Ben Chalum

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