The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

THERE was a mi­nor brouhaha once when a mem­ber of the Munro So­ci­ety sug­gested many of its mem­bers were fakes. A re­tired chem­istry pro­fes­sor from Dundee claimed only a mi­nor­ity of hill­walk­ers had ac­tu­ally climbed all the Mun­ros un­der their own steam. “These are peo­ple who have led or soloed all the Cuillin tops. Be­ing dragged 80ft up the In­ac­ces­si­ble Pin­na­cle on Skye, then low­ered off by a pro­fes­sional guide or a friendly rock climber, surely doesn’t count as a gen­uine as­cent,” he said.

I was chew­ing these thoughts over as I dropped on to the fine con­nect­ing rib between Creise and Meall a’ Bhuiridh, the two Mun­ros that form part of the dra­matic western wall that fringes Ran­noch Moor. I was think­ing how silly such an at­ti­tude was. My own first as­cent of the In Pinn, as a youth, was on the end of some­one else’s rope, and no­body would have con­vinced me then that I was a fake. I’ve since taken nu­mer­ous peo­ple up the In Pinn and wouldn’t for a mo­ment con­sider their as­cent was any­thing other than gen­uine.

By co­in­ci­dence I hap­pened to meet a cou­ple of Munro-bag­gers on the Meall a’ Bhuiridh ridge. They had just taken the chair­lift to near the sum­mit (3635ft/1108m). From there they were head­ing for Creise to bag the Munro. It was on the tip of my tongue to ques­tion their use of the chair­lift, but I stopped my­self. They were en­joy­ing their day out, they were ap­pre­cia­tive of the sur­round­ings and, as far as they were con­cerned, the use of the chair­lift was le­git­i­mate.

Our con­ver­sa­tion made me re­alise there is no such thing as a gen­uine as­cent. I make fre­quent use of the Cairn Gorm car park at 2500ft, or the Ben Law­ers high-level car park. Is that cheat­ing? Climbers on Ever­est fly in to Lukla, at a height of 12,000ft. The only “gen­uine” as­cent of Ever­est I could think of was Phil and Pauline San­der­son’s ex­pe­di­tion in 2006 when they and some friends cy­cled to Nepal from the low­est point on Earth, be­side the Dead Sea in Jor­dan, then climbed the high­est moun­tain in the world. But did the fact they cy­cled from Jor­dan to Nepal negate any claim for a gen­uine as­cent?

Of course not – it’s all silly spec­u­la­tion and the im­por­tant thing about moun­tains is in the be­ing there, not how many peaks you can bag. And here was I, se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing all this non­sense, in one of the most spec­tac­u­lar set­tings in the land.

If you gaze across at Creise and Meall a’ Bhuiridh from the Black Cor­ries on the edge of Ran­noch Moor, you’ll see one of the finest moun­tain panoramas in Scot­land, to­gether with the deep de­file of Glen Etive and the fa­mil­iar shape of Buachaille Etive Mor. Creise it­self, at 3609ft/1100m, is a steep-sided hill that of­fers su­perla­tive scram­bling up the steep north nose of Sron na Creise. The rocky ribs that spill down east­wards into the Cam Gleann pro­vide an eas­ier way to the top, although there is good scram­bling here too.

That had been my route to the sum­mit ridge. I’d started at Black­rock Cot­tage, the Scot­tish Ladies Climb­ing Club hut on the road that leads to the White Cor­ries ski area. I’d crossed the boggy heather moor­land around the north slopes of Creag Dhubh to the mouth of the Cam Gh­leann to reach the rocky slopes of Sron na Creise. Con­tour­ing west to avoid the rocky dif­fi­cul­ties I’d en­joyed easy scram­bling up the steep, rocky ribs that spill down from Stob a’ Gh­lais Choire, the start of a long and scenic ridge that even­tu­ally ter­mi­nates at Stob Ghab­har in the south.

Less than a kilo­me­tre from Stob a’ Gh­lais Choire lay the sum­mit of Creise, be­yond which the flat top of Mam Coire Ea­sain gave way to a stony rib which de­scends to a high bealach which, in turn, leads to Meall a’ Bhuiridh. It’s an easy climb to the sum­mit of Meall a’ Bhuiridh with a straight­for­ward de­scent to Black­rock Cot­tage by way of the ski grounds. And of course at the week­ends you have the op­tion of an eas­ier de­scent – by the chair­lift. But that would be cheat­ing. Or would it?

Once out of the boggy moor­land of Creag Dubh the slopes of Creise (3609ft/1100m) of­fer ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­ni­ties for scram­bling

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