Stuc a' Chroin - 975m
Monday 24th December 2018
Weather/Conditions: Great conditions! Barely winter at all, but the north-facing flanks of both Munros bit more wintry - Stuc a' Chroin requiring axe and crampons with old hard snow lying in a gully. Great views and great visibility all across the Highlands and Lowlands.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 15.0km / 1150m / 5h 35m
Accompanying: James and Rosie for Vorlich, Andi for both summits
James said he was thinking Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin with his sister Rosie, and her boyfriend Andi. Perfect. We had a good forecast, it would be a social day; not too long, not far from home. I was really excited.
I was careful on icy roads to get there and told them to go on ahead. Pulling into Ardvorlich, they'd only left five minutes in front, but I packed and would catch them up. The sun was shining down Glen Vorlich as I put in pace up the hill. The car park was busy - I felt like the last one out! Not that it bothered me.
I had a great time wandering up this hill. I wasn't on top form with the cold, so it was just right. The last 100 metres of Vorlich were pretty white with hard packed snow. You can see how this could become a terrain trap, with the trig near-by but a yawning drop just waiting below. In a moment we were on top, in the sun, with some great views.
After this, Andi and I put in a pace to Stuc a' Chroin. James and Rosie did a loop around Vorlich and we planned to meet them later.
Stuc a' Chroin was good fun. We realised Andi and I were pretty similar in music taste and there was a lot of chat about the Alps and the likes. We only had one axe between us for the front of the Stuc, and we'd tried to get as high as possible. We ended up each standing on a small ledge pulling crampons on - after which the terrain was easy to deal with! Again, you could see how you could get into bother on a mountain that otherwise looks to be in summer condition! And just like on Vorlich, we emerged from the north side and out into the sun.
The central Lowlands had layers of mist lying, unmoving. It was one of those still days, timeless and motionless. But the hill itself was fairly busy, the atmopshere social rather than secluded. I was interested to know what Andi thought of the Scottish hills from an Alpine background - he'd climbed Ben Chonzie with Rosie the day before and Vorlich and the Stuc were his second and third Munros. I wouldn't be surpriwsed if he'd said tiny :-) But it was damn good chatting music all afternoon.
But in the winter the days end quick, and we ended up contouring the side of Vorlich with the hillsides glowing red. A beautiful day. We never did catch James and Rosie, and arrived back at the car in last light with a note on the windscreen telling to meet in Callander.
It was just the right day for me, and the day before Christmas when all my family get together. I've been taking an unintended break from living in Lochaber, but the family time has been great as well.
Stuc a' Chroin
(0.00) 10.26am Ardvorlich
(2.04) 12.30pm Ben Vorlich
(3.41) 2.07pm Stuc a' Chroin
(5.35) 4.01pm Ardvorlich