Back in December 2014 the embryo of the Club was just being formed and some soon-to-be-founder members attended a meet at Blackrock Cottage. The Club was born a month later and now that it had developed into a bouncy and moody five-year-old, it was time to revisit this iconic location.
The hut is owned by the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club and sits in a sublime position at the foot of Meall a’ Bhuird, Rannoch Moor at the entrance to Glen Coe. Its situation with the mighty Buachaille Etive Mor commanding the background makes it one of the most photographed buildings in Highland Scotland.
The interior is very compact and cosy but since the last visit an extensive and luxurious (for a mountain hut) toilet and shower cubicle had been built on what was formerly a coal shed.
Jim Aire, Ania Borg, John Calder, Raymond Evenden, James Fraser, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Adrian Mowat, Alyn McNaughton, Alan Orr, Ian Pollock, Norrie Shand, Lorn Smith, Gerry Weir
With bed space limited to 10 people, a few members made their own accommodation arrangements nearby.
A combination of work commitments, short daylight hours and unfavourable weather meant that there was little hillwalking on the Friday as everyone made their way north. Not to be deterred though George and Susan were determined to make further inroads into their 2nd Corbett round and headed up Glen Etive to tackle the nearby Beinn Mhic Chasgaig before making their way down the hut to get warmed up. Unfortunately, the keyholder hadn’t arrived by that time but shortly afterwards John and Alyn arrived and the conundrum of how to gain entry was eventually solved. Before long the place was nice and cosy and hunger and thirst issues were eagerly addressed.
As usual, vocal chords were exercised later in the evening as Norrie and Gerry produced guitar and mandolin. Norrie and Alan also took time out to celebrate their 4-year Friendversary with a wee dance,
The weather had improved dramatically on Saturday morning and everyone was keen to tackle some of the nearby hills – there was certainly no lack of choice.
Raymond also had his eyes on a Glen Etive Corbett – the unrelentingly steep 883m Stob Dubh. The views though were stunning and despite him being in a happy mood, he did meet a couple with long faces at the start of his walk!
George and Susan headed back down the Glen Etive road as well. Their target this time was the magnificent Munro of Stob Coir an Alabannaich. They had repeated its lower neighbour, Meall nan Eun on a previous club meet in Glen Etive but they hadn’t had time that day to continue to its Big Brother. This omission was duly rectified but unfortunately equipment malfunction (or perhaps operator malfunction?) meant that there were no photos produced from their walk.
In the same neck of the woods were John and Alyn as they took aim for the impressive north ridge of Ben Starav, traversing this summit before continuing down and along the steep and rocky ridge to its close neighbour, Glas Bheinn Mhor. Descending east for a short time they were soon able to take a northerly bearing down towards the Allt Mheuran. Rumour has it they encountered a well-known mountain guide making very slow progress and very quick assumptions.
Ian hadn’t been feeling too great with some nasty back pain and also a sore hip. As he headed off towards Bidean nam Bean with James it is not recorded whether earache was soon added to his ailments.
Their initial plan had been to complete both Bidean’s Munros on this majestic massif but with Ian below par the sensible decision was taken to call it a day and retrace their steps after reaching the secondary Munro of Stob Coire Sgreamhach via a trek up the Lost Valley.
Also on Bidean were Ania and Adrian. they ascended up the Coire nan Lochan path and had some entertaining river crossings and scrambling on their way to the summit. The A82 always looks a long way below when climbing the higher Glencoe hills. After the enjoyable ridge walk across to Stob Coire Sgreamhach, they too descended into the Lost Valley en route back to camp.
Jim and Lorn opted to take up the challenge of the two nearest Munros, Creise and Meall A’ Bhuiridh – a straightforward enough proposition normally. However, not content with following the ski paraphernalia uphill for the conventional route, they decided to break new ground and ascend Creise by one of its simple enough looking eastern gullies. As they headed up though it soon became pretty clear that their chosen path was anything but a cinch. There followed a period of buttock-clenching, heart-pumping scrambling before they gratefully emerged on to the ridge. In an instant Aire-O-Smith gully became a classic mountaineering route. After their ascent the rest of their walk was a piece of cake and following a descent from Meall A’ Bhuiridh, they found their way down to the Clachaig to celebrate surviving their adventure.
The final group were Gerry, Norrie and Alan and they set off in Alan’s van a few kilometres east to the well-constructed path that would lead them up to the twin Munro summits of Buachaille Etive Beag. Initially they made steady progress up the stone staircase but before long Gerry, who had not been feeling well either the previous night decided that he wasn’t able to continue and returned back to the A82. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to read up on the Hitchhikers’ Guide to Glencoe and his novice thumb flicking didn’t persuade any drivers to stop and give him a lift. The “few kilometres” seemed a lot longer on foot all the way back to the hut.
Undeterred Norrie and Alan headed up initially to the lower Munro of Stob Coire Raineach, a fine viewpoint. From there the pair galloped down and along the ridge up to the higher Munro of Stob Dubh – with even better views particularly straight down Glen Etive to the Loch of the same name in the distance. A quick visit to the Clachaig followed before they too made their way back to the hut.
A cosy evening followed in the hut with the usual mix of song and spirits (and beer/wine etc) before the final trickiest scramble of the weekend – the ascent of the staircase to the sleeping quarters.
Once again, Blackrock had lived up to its reputation with many members hoping that a further return visit could be made in the not too distant future.