Sunday, 3 April 2011

Beinn a' Chrulaiste

In my last post out and about, I waxed lyrical on Meall Mor, a tiny hill with a huge view. There are plenty more in that glorious area between Loch Etive and Badenoch: my favourite probably being Beinn a' Chrulaiste.

Beinn a' Chrulaiste is a Corbett, a steep but dumpy hill surrounded by the supermodels of the Scottish hills, the Buachaille, Bidean nam Bian, Aonach Eagach, and Ben Nevis. It is probably the finest viewpoint for the Buachaille Etive Mor: Boswell, as I said in my book, to the Buachaille's Johnson.

Billy and I climbed Beinn a' Chrulaiste on a day of unexpected heavy spring snow. We headed straight up the main face of the hill, looking for a scrambling rib that I had been up in summer. As we walked along the West Highland Way looking for the rib, a snowstorm closed in. Oh well, no view for us! We headed straight up on slippy wet snow, unstable heather and iced-over rock. It was getting a bit serious. I looked down. It wouldn’t do to fall! Billy didn't look happy. At the top of the ever-steeper slope lay a line of broken cliffs. I refused to tackle them.

Billy traversed and shouted for me from round the corner. I followed his footprints to find us on easy ground, Billy grinning.

Billy having found the easy way up:

The sun had just come back out. We had been so engrossed in the difficult terrain that we hadn’t noticed it had stopped snowing. The Buachaille was shrugging off the mists, its majestic peak thrusting up through the clouds, spindrift trailing off its pointed summit.

Snow clouds clearing in Glencoe:

We sat in astonishment as the weather cleared, the Buachailles and Glencoe peaks appearing fresh-snowed and achingly beautiful, mountain butterflies shedding their cloud chrysalises. We laughed and grinned at the contrast with the hard terrain and weather of just a few minutes earlier. It had turned out to be the best of days!

On Beinn a' Chrulaiste:

Descent was made on easier ground, via the subsidiary top of Meall Bhalach. Beinn a' Chrulaiste is one of those tops I don't think I will ever tire of visiting - but today's conditions would be hard to beat!

Beinn a' Chrulaiste summit:


Billy said...

I've been up twice since and the weather was abominable. Where were we heading down from? Was it Sgurr innse?
I remember Jimmy the Jakie. interestingly, the word verification is Manck :-)

Robert Craig said...

Saville's not a jake, he's a character!

Think we did Beinn Fhionnlaidh the day before - amazing views over to Ben Cruachan.