Ben Lui & Beinn a’Chleibh


Ben Lui and Beinn a’Chleibh

Ben Lui (or Beinn Laoigh) is a fantastic mountain and surely one of the best in this part of the country. It offers amazing views west towards Loch Awe and Ben Cruachan, north towards Glen Coe and Ben Nevis, east down Glen Cononish towards the Glen Lyon Hills, and south towards Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps. This is really one to savour – but be particularly careful climbing here in the winter, when conditions can be demanding, especially when climbing from the eastern side, at Coire Gaothaich.

Ben Lui is often climbed with Beinn a’Chleibh, and the unmistakably best approach to these mountains is from Tyndrum or Dalrigh, heading west up Glen Cononish. Follow the track up the glen, past the Cononish mining project, and on along the track which starts to climb into the Coire Caothaich. Again, be particularly careful here in winter, as a number of climbers have succumbed to avalanches in this corrie. The track climbs up onto the northern ridge of the corrie, before curving round to the magnificent summit of Ben Lui, at 1130 metres.

A quick descent down the south-western ridge of Ben Lui brings you to a bealach, from which you can continue south-west up to the much lower summit of Beinn a’Chleibh which, at 916 metres, is a Munro in its own right. You can either return by the same route, or more likely you will head back up the south-western ridge of Ben Lui, before looking for a path which cuts down its south-eastern ridge to the bealach with Ben Oss. From this bealach you can drop down into the V-shaped valley, which can be followed north to regain the track in Glen Cononish, which is then followed back to either Tyndrum or Dalrigh.

On a long summer’s day, if you are up to it, you can also incorporate Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig in a single, but long, climb.

An alternative route of ascent comes from Glen Lochy to the north west of the mountains. There is a car park near the bottom of the Eas Diamh, and the climb from here is shorter and undoubtedly less spectacular. Be careful crossing the River Lochy as, when in spate, it can be difficult or dangerous to cross.

Safety first

These mountains may not have the height of Alpine peaks, but you should not underestimate them or the very changeable weather they are subjected to.  It is not unheard of to have warm sunshine, rain, snow and fog all on the same day – even in the Summer!

You must be prepared for the terrain and for these weather changes.  You should only climb in sturdy hiking or climbing boots, and you must take waterproofs and emergency supplies.  Also take plenty of food and water – it is generally safe to drink from mountain streams, which are usually very clean, but you do so at your own risk.  A map, compass, and proficiency in their use, are a necessity.

Always check the mountain weather forecast before you head into the hills, and if it is winter or there has  been any snow falling or forecast, you should also check the avalanche forecast.  The area is served by an excellent mountain rescue team, but it is your responsibility to ensure you minimise the chances of an emergency which endangers their lives too.

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