Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Stuc a' Chroin

A trip to Strathyre at the weekend saw a brace of Moorfoots (Alan E and Eddie) out on the heathery hills of Glen Ample. The run starts from a new location further on in the town. It was a great atmosphere around the starting area, old hands and new discussing how deep the snow may be on top - deep enough it turned out! 

The run up to the top of Strathyre Forest was tough going with much of a marsh and bog on the way.
The descent into Glen Ample was mighty steep and gave the quads something to think about. Once at the bottom (where the road is in the pic below) it was a daunting thought that the hill had to be rescaled in order to get back on to the downhill, homeward 5k. 

The climb up Beinn Each (Each = Gaelic for 'horse') was very hard going - a mare you might say and my calves were saddled with unbridled nagging pains all the way to the top (puns over!) Heading up the hill to the right, the route cuts over the ridge along the tops to 'The Stuc' on the left of the pic.
It is a brutal climb that involves grasping at heather or dragging yourself up by an old wire fence. After a tough climb into the snowline, there is a great deal of technical (very dangerous) rock hopping, climbing, scrambling, face-plant avoidance, body sledging and generally trying to avoid being flown off the hill. 

Glen Ample looking up to 'The Stuc' in the top left. Courtesy of Carnethy (Mary Lye)

The arrow on the map points to the road just beyond the middle cluster of trees.

Courtesy of  Geomantics

Nearing the summit, I spot Eddie on his way down - looking fresh - or perhaps that was the passing blizzard reddening up his cheeks! Some time after I am on top and am invited for a photo with a Lomond Hills runner. Post-snap he declares he is struggling and asks me to buddy him down. Part of me wants to adhere to 'the code' but part of me wants to romp off down the hill. After a couple of kms, a potential compromise presents itself and I spot a Penicuik Harrier taking her time and she kindly offers to buddy the chap back in. I am then off in pursuit of Luis from Lauderdale. I catch up to him and we decide to run in together.

The exit of Glen Ample (that harmless, little upward line below, before the 15.0 marker) is mainly an uphill grunting exercise - a real struggle. Luis has given me a honey and peanut butter sandwich to fight the cramps. It's munched on the ascent and soon the final 5k can be undertaken. On the profile below it looked like a nice whiz down hill - but not so - 500 shoes had churned it up and we spend a lot time knee-deep in rotting vegetation.

Ascent graph

Final stretch down hill was dry and the cramps were kicking in - a wee dash to the line, a few handshakes and pics and off into the massage tent, meaning I miss my fish supper in Callendar. Great camaraderie and encouragement all the way round and enjoyed the haul back to the finish with Luis. Next time, Mr Molero,  no more Mr Nice Guy!!

Really well marshaled and lots of water and Jelly Babies.

I managed round in 4h 17 mins - happy enough with my effort given that recent hill training consisted of a jaunt up Gypsy Glen the previous Wednesday.

Eddie scooted round in 3h 37mins.

Courtesy of Luis' partner

At the finish with, Damon, Michael, Luis and Badger the Superdog (I'm the one without the tail)

Next year..? Perhaps....

Results and more info here


Andyc said...

Good effort Alan, in what, must have been challenging conditions, I've done this one a couple of times, but no snow to deal with, the words never again come to mind at the end, but there's something that always draws you back for more, maybe it's that rusty wire fence.......

Burnie Caffs said...

Thanks Andy

And yes...never again was my thought on the painful climb out of the valley - but, as you say, when finished....Maybe next year!