First Footing mountains of 2024

Towering above Bridge of Orchy on the West highland line, Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaid give a good round which I've enjoyed several times, so I was glad to see it amongst Steve Murray's list. . As my friend Paul W is also Compleat and at large, the choice was easily made.

The valley floor was swathed in a milky-white inversion, through which we headed up to the rocky cleft of the bealach which separates the two mountains.

The side wall, sometimes draped in icy winter routes, was black today.

Snow cover remained above 700 metres. Although the snow was only a few inches deep, it was frozen pretty hard after a cold night and bare rocks were slippery with verglas.

Gaining the bealach and the undulating ridge to Beinn Dorain, we concluded that life would be easier in crampons and with that satisfying crunch, crunch, on we marched to the summit.

I last stood here with Marjan from Iran in the winter of 2016, and we could see snow on the Paps of Jura. It's interesting to compare the conditions to and other trip reports of that winter.

Beinn an Dothaid hosts some winter climbing cliffs and gullies on its north side, but from the bealach, its southern slopes are fairly smooth and not too steep.

The hard-frozen snow smoothed out all dips and irregularities, like white tarmac, so we clanked steadily up and made an arc along the summit ridge.

Our descent co-incided with an excellent sunset and a clear cold sky.

Back to the Luib Hotel for a meal and to sit over the log fire. Found this accommodation between Killin and Crianlarich, and they gave us a 3-bed room for £26 pppn. Plus a good cooked breakfast £7. For our purposes, ideal and recommended. (even if not a luxurious romantic hideaway).

On Sunday, Paul drove through Killin and gingerly over small snowdrifts up the steep, high pass leading to Bridge of Balgie. This is where the National Trust for Scotland had built a large Visitor Centre, on Ben Lawers, a mountain given to them by mountaineer Percy Unna under an express wish that nothing should be built on it. Removed in more recent years !!

From the head of the pass, we took long slopes soth-eastwards to reach the western spur of Meall Corranaich (1069 m).

The snow was now rock solid after a very cold night, so once the gradient steepened, the spikes were on.

Getting to the summit felt rather like hard work after the uisge which the Luib Hotel had plied us with, but there was a hint of Broken Spectres to wave us on our way.

Next came a real treat. Almost 2 km of ridge gently descending north, on hard, glittering, undisturbed snow. A narrow bit sported some cornicing too.

The ridge comes to a high bealach and a short sharp ascent to Meall a' Choire Leith 926 m. A path led up the side, although it got decidely steep with a lot of exposure for a heathery hill !

Finally, a moorland stretch brough us back to the car, and although this seemed to drag a little as the sun got behind the mountains, it was still only 3.00 pm: time enough, then , for hot chocolate in front of the warm fire in the Killin Cafe. As we drove downhill, the valley was still full of the inversion, and the residents of Killin had endured a dark, sunless, miserable day. But we had done quite otherwise, fortunately.


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One Comment

  1. Great report Andrew, amazing snaps and conditions, not even the slightest bit jealous….! Did those second day munros this summer in 30c, different proposition!

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