This is a story of a winter climb of two contrasting munros in the West Highlands of Scotland near Tyndrum, Argyll. Ben Lui with its conical summit is regarded as one of Scotland's most beautiful mountains, and I'd admired it from below on previous visits to the area. It looks quite intimidating, but it can be climbed safely without exposure on broad ridges. Together with its lower partner, the flat-topped Beinn a' Chleibh, it makes a good day out even in winter conditions. It is often climbed from the east, but there's a shorter route from the west which we used on this occasion.
This was a real winter climb on icy slopes, like a journey to a different world. The views of the West Highlands were crystal clear.
- I'll remember most the experience of climbing in crampons on the mountains plastered with a layer of crunchy ice
- The best bit was the sense of achievement in overcoming the challenges to get to the top of Ben Lui
- The worst bit was walking with our faces into the ferocious bitterly cold wind on Beinn a' Chleib
- The most unexpected event was the "John the Baptist" moment early on
- The most difficult sections were getting through the forest, and climbing up to the bealach
- Words of warning: don't attempt a climb in conditions like this without ice axe and crampons, and keep a hold of your gloves (and lunchbox)! Beware of frozen flapjack as well.
- Extra section with lessons on equipment and clothing for winter walking
See the Gallery for lots of photos from the walk
Contributed by: Andrew Llanwarne
|Location||Starting point about 10km (6 miles) west of Tyndrum on A85|
|Date walked||7 February 2009|
|Walk type||High hills and mountain hikes|
|Difficulty||Requires stamina, proper equipment for the conditions and experience of mountain conditions|
|Distance||10.5 km (6.5 miles)|
|Height climbed||1080m (3543ft)|
|Time taken||7 hrs|
|Map used||Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000, Sheet 50, Glen Orchy|
|Walk source info||SMC Munro Guide|
|Getting there||By minibus from Glenfarg|
|Places to stay||In Tyndrum or Dalmally|