Be prepared to change plans quickly….a brilliant day out in the Arrochar Alps.

Climbers ascending Beinn Narnain through rocky outcrops
Climbers ascending Beinn Narnain

The weather didn’t look promising but it turned out well (Munros Completed : Beinn Ime (61), Beinn Narnain (62)).

After a rest day yesterday due to poor weather it was the day to return home. However, I always plan to bag a Munro here or there if I can especially if the weather is good as you can’t miss an opportunity, even if it is a very long day with a 9 hour drive home!. Unfortunately, when I awoke it was still raining with dark clouds. I thought I had no chance of doing any Munros today but decided to still drive to the car park at Succouth as it is on the way home anyway. By the time I arrived at the car park at 08:00 it had cleared up a bit, so I decided to kit up anyway & chance it. I could always turn back & at least it is a bit of a recce and fresh air. By good fortune the weather improved considerably as the day wore on and it turned out to be a brilliant day.

The Weather clears up

The start of the walk through the forest is on a well defined path that is a lot of long switchbacks as you ascend. As I came out of the forest near to the weir I found the track that’s flat along a marshy but not too bad well trodden path.
From here it starts to ascend again through a series of crags where the path is so well trodden has eroded badly turned into a small stream. It was difficult to follow as soon after I hit the snow line, so I tried to pick the best line through the crags. I fortunately found some footprints in the intermittent snow, which looked fresh to me so followed these upwards. As I ascended the snow became deeper as there had been further snow overnight but the fresh footprints really helped avoiding the need for me to break trail through deep snow.

The final crag was quite steep with large boulders and as I followed it up the footprints ended & I couldn’t see where they had gone. The way ahead wasn’t an option as there was a big gap. Confusingly, the footprints now had ended and also appeared to be going downwards. I looked to my right & could see a gap to go up but it wasy a bit sketchy, icy on the rocks and deep snow but I managed it & soon found the footprints again. There was one lovely steep small snow gulley to asend before coming over the top at which point for the first time the sun shone through a brief gap in the clouds. Here, about 200m from the summit, I saw the two guys at the cairn summit of Beinn Narnain, who were obviously the people ahead of me braking the trail. Visibility was still good here, about 100-200m. I walked over & spoke with them briefly. They were from Dumbarton but not heading off to Beinn Ime as I was. They went off in a different direction and I headed to the col.

Looking down into the col, I then saw several people descending from the Cobbler with two of them starting the ascent to Beinn Ime. I stopped briefly to talk with others at the col then headed up the ascent to Beinn Ime. However, here the weather started to deteriorate with the sleet showeres that had been forecast for the afternoon now appearing. The cloud came down, viz was down to 20-30m max, the wind picked up & there was a brief sleet shower. I was starting to tire here a little bit here & had dig deep to force myself on, breaking the final part into small achievable sections.
The snow wasn’t as deep here as it was on Beinn Narnain so trail breaking wasn’t necessary. As I came up a small rise about 200m from the top I came across the 2 people I had seen earlier. They were American I think though we didn’t chat much as the wind was fairly blustery and so I headed W along the final flat part to the summit of Beinn Ime. I could briefly see the big cornices to my right so was careful to pick the correct line, though the ridge was wide enough not to be too worried.

 

At the top, the visibility was now so poor and the wind bitterly cold I turned immediately around. This is where I love the backtrack feature on the GPS!. I met another Scottish guy who was on his way up as I descended and while there were another few short sleety showers the weather did not deteriorate any further.
I was soon down at the col where I came back out into clearer visibility of several hundred metres & out of the wind. The Cobbler looked fantastic to the right. The path now descends between The Cobbler & Beinn Narnain and is well defined & in good firm condition. I headed down & was so pleased that I had decided to get out and bag these Munros as I had given myself very little chance when I had initially awoke. In fact it was the best day of the trip. I passed the two Americans by the Narnain boulders who were wild camping and headed on down to the Weir. This path then leads back through the forest down the endless zig-zags & back to the car park which I reached at 4:10pm.