Ben Starav from Glen Etive - Alison W
7th to 9th October 2005 - Inbhirfhaolain
OK I admit it. I had to check on the SMC website to make sure that I spelt
it right. Charlie (a potential new member) helped me to find the hut half way down
Glen Etive and it turned out to be more luxurious than expected - an image perhaps
created by a helpful water elf (Martin) and our favourite pyromaniac elf (Albert)
not to mention the whisky elf (yours truly).
Anyway, we were sitting around the roaring fire on Friday night at about 10 pm
thinking what happened to Margaret and where was Tim? In the middle of the night
two people snuck into the hut and I opened one eye just to check who it was. Tim I
recognised and the other chap turned out to be Oliver a potential new member.
The following morning it was revealed that due to a road accident Tim and Oliver
sat in a traffic jam for about 5 hours and got to the hut at three in the morning.
Margaret decided to attack the problem from a different direction but gave up and
spent the night in Killin hostel as I discovered when I turned my mobile on at the
top of Beinn Fhionnlaidh the following day and got her message. This was the most
popular mountain that day with a party of 5, Martin, Charlie, Richard, Sophie and me
deciding in record time (about 30 seconds) that it would be our target due to the
somewhat grim weather forecast. Tim and Oliver opted for Sgor na h-Ulaidh and Albert
for a walk in the same direction so we all left together from the hut as our paths
coincided for the first hour or so.
The weather started off in true autumnal fashion with swirling mist and we could
hear the stags baying nearby. On the way up through the woods we were joined by a
party of 3 stalkers who piled out of a 4x4 immaculately turned out in tweeds.
Suspecting that wearing red could be dangerous I approached them to see where they
were going. However, they turned out to be quite chatty and we managed to agree
mutually acceptable routes. As we went up the ridge we could see deer in the distance,
but they were too far off to attract the stalkers. Tim and Oliver disappeared up the
glen, Albert opted for a lower level walk and the rest of us climbed up into an
increasingly windy and showery world. About half way up Charlie realised that he had
left his jacket in the hut (doh!) and decided to go back. As a result of this he was
treated to the view of the aforementioned stalkers dragging their kill down the hill back
to their 4*4. Venison steak all round - (sorry Bambi). We did get some views but not
for long and eventually it started to sleet on the summit and we did not linger to
appreciate the freezing cold wind. By the time we had got back to the woods it was
absolutely horsing it down and the rain set in for the rest of the day.
However, the fire was burning enthusiastically in the hut when we returned and shortly
afterwards Margaret pitched up having climbed a rather steep Corbett en route - but I can't
remember which one. Oliver and I zoomed off to the metropolis of Kinlochleven to sample
its retail opportunities and accidentally went to the pub on the way back - no surprises
there. We spent the evening surrounded by damp clothes drying above the fire indulging
in the standard EMC banter before most of the party had an early night. Something to do
with the lack of sleep the night before methinks.
On Sunday, it was still raining. Oh well. Most of us decided that honour would be
satisfied by a jaunt up Beinn a' Chrulaiste followed by a change of clothes and a highly
civilised cup of coffee in the lounge at the Kings House. Tim and Oliver, evidently made
of sterner stuff set off for Ben Dorain and Ben an Dothaidh. So all in all, rather a
soggy experience. But some comfort could be derived from the fact that it was just as wet
in the Pyrenees and Mallorca.