Another week has passed, another Munro to conquer.
I decided that this week should be a big one. Either in the level of difficulty or the views which could be captured. There are a few factors relating to this.
Firstly our family is due to increase in size in 3-4 weeks so I may be away from Munro’s for a short while, with that in mind, I would like to leave on a high note after last weeks disappointing outing.
Another factor which resulted in this weeks choice was the weather. MWIS had said a showery start but over all, good day with a high chance of cloud free tops, west of the A85. That was it decided. After having a look over my maps, still trying to avoid the tourist hot spots, I decided on Ben Starav, with the hope of Glas Bheinn Mhor.
I set off from the house shortly after 4am for with a couple of stops on route for fuel and coffee. It was an enjoyable drive with the weather looking promising once I’d passed through Crianlarich.
I arrived at my destination and packed my kit for the day. This really slowed the process down as it’s something I usually do then night before but was somewhat disorganised that morning.
The WH Munro book described Starav as a ‘brute’, the research I’d done also confirmed this. I figured that if it was a brute to get up, it will be even more brutal for me to get down, meaning I was to also pack my full face helmet for this first time since beginning this challenge.
I finally set off for my initial meander through the grassy marshes to the foot of the hill. Trying not to start the day with wet feet, meant it had taken me 25minutes before I was starting to make any kind of gradient.
The beginning of the path looked promising, albeit a river bed surrounded by further marsh. I continued on up the SW ridge, the ground conditions remaining much the same, at times the path would disappear altogether.
As I reached around the 500m mark the weather decided to change its tune. Things looked like they were going to get nasty. I picked a spot up ahead where I could take a bit of shelter and dress for the occasion.
The waterproofs were now on and the heavens had opened. Looking around and taking into account the wind speed though, I decided to sit in that trench for 20 minutes while the worst of it had passed. It seemed to be the right choice as before long, the rain had dispersed and it was only the wind I had to fight against.
Speaking of the wind. It was gusts of upto 45mph and they were catching my bike like a kite, which would usually sit nicely on my shoulder for the whole ascent on a day like this. Not today though. That in conjunction with my full face helmet strapped to my sac made things pretty difficult and also increased my risk of injury. It was time to push the bike.
The going was tough, and due to the conditions, much longer than I anticipated. I was only at 800m at the time I had planned to be summiting, and the worst part was yet to come.
At this point, with the hill ahead of me taking a steep and rocky turn, and the rain closing back in, I made the decision to only go for Starav today. This took the pressure off slightly but it was still going to be a battle to the summit.
This section of the hill becomes much more exposed. The ridge, much more defined, leads to the final pull of boulderfield. This is the part that I have not been looking forward to, this is where accidents could really happen and I have to take my time. Usually when scrambling with the bike, I will have it attatched to my back, but on this occasion I had come so far without doing that, and the idea that if the wind caught the bike I could launch it, instead of going with it, was quite appealing. The scramble was arduous, but ground was being made, albeit slowly.
Before I knew it, I had reached the summit. There had been an eery silence for the last 50m. Like someone had turned the wind off. It sent shivers down my spine, you really could have heard a pin drop.
After a sandwich at the top it was time to retrace my steps through the boulderfield. This seemed much easier than the ascent so I managed to make up some time.
Then the fun was to begin. The cloud began to move once again and I was in astonishment. The views were simply stunning. I had to take some photos after being deprived in the previous weeks.
After my little shoot it was time to hit the stunning single track that littered the tops of the cliffs. One mistake here, could cost me my life, so great care was taken, before things opened up again.
The rest of the descent was really rough, struggling to find any sort flow on the hill. A lot of stopping and starting, certainly nothing worthy of a KOM, hence the reason for this weeks title…
‘No Strava on Starav’.
Sit back, select HD and enjoy the fruits of my labour.
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