/ Ben Lui SE Ridge - ???

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TheseKnivesMan - on 12 Oct 2013
I'm a pretty experienced hillwalker and climber, done all ridge classics An Teallach, Torridons, Fiachaill Ridge etc no problem. Me and a friend climbed Ben Lui today by the SE Ridge as described in Scotlands Mountain Ridges by Dan Bailey. (I've been out the game for past year or so right enough but been etting back into it recently :D)

I found it absoloutely terrifying at the crux section, I got cragfast for 20 minutes and had to downclimb and we walked up via the much flatter South (?) ridge. It just seemed to be horribly steep choss and loose vegetation spiralling upwards and upwards above that huge drop into the coire to the right and tens of metres vertical at a time below me sometimes.

Has anyone else found this route to be pretty pants filling?? :s
TheseKnivesMan - on 12 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan:

I mean East ridge. From Stob an Tighe Aird. It was the SE ridge we eventually ended up on, it turns out.
Joak - on 12 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan: Aye I widnae worry aboot it. You hit the nail right oan the heid, steep loose choss as opposed to clean sound rock. I normally go up this ridge in winter when nicely frozen as a Plan B when I consider Central Gully to be a wee bit iffy. Having said that I once had a wee mini epic on Lui's South Rib!!
TheseKnivesMan - on 13 Oct 2013
In reply to Joak:

Haha I did central as my first winter gully a few years ago and got a bit jelly legged toward the top but I loved it. That seems like a rolling meadow compared to this! The point I got cragfast was beneath a 3 metre high wall with one tiny loose powdery rake running up it, underneath a very overhanging boulder, jings.

Beautiful summit though.
In reply to TheseKnivesMan: Sorry you had a wee epic. It's a bit exposed and not particularly pleasant in summer (I think the book actually says this - better in winter) but it shouldn't have been totally terrifying. Were you a bit too far right maybe?

Maybe a daft question but there's no chance you'd actually strayed across to the winter climb South Rib, is there? That's a pretty obvious ridge-like feature just to the right of the East Ridge
tony on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan:

I did this one Easter, I think it was, in interesting conditions:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=7984

I'd travelled up from Cheltenham and was determined to get stuff done. I didn't have crampons or axes, and these days I'd probably have thought twice about carrying on. However, carry on I did, and I did find it a wee bit sketchy in a few places - there were certainly a few points when I was wondering about the wisdom of continuing.
Wesley Orvis - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan:

We also had a major epic on this ridge a few years ago (the left handsided ridge of Coire Gaothaich) It was December 10th about 4 years ago and we had a fresh dump of snow overnight at the Strathfillan Wigwams so we decided to do the SSE ridge instead of Central Gully, it was awful, terrifying and very dangerous, we got benighted, one lad sprained his ankle and could hardly walk, one lad fell through the cornice on the corrie side and was saved by another cornice underneath and had to be pulled up by axe, we never even madE the summit as went dark at the crux section, we all fell out and some have never made up since, everyone of us felt like we nearly died.

A number of reasons created this misfortune and was mainly down to bad planning by myself, it started with the lad who was supposed to be carrying the rope for emergencies forgetting the rope, too many people in the group was another big factor, one having a dog with him aswell didn't help at all, not planning for only 5 hours daylight in December in Scotland was my major fuc* up while a 7k walk in deep powder took most of the daylight. Anyways we all lived another day and i learned a lot about people who i should go out in the hills with and people i shouldn't, we nearly all killed each other by fighting and arguing, lesson learned will never happen again. But i agree this place can be very intimidating when it wants to be.
TheseKnivesMan - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

We were definitely not on South Rib but I think on second read of your book we were maybe too far right, must have missed where you said keeping slightly left! We were maybe just one or two metres from the edge of the coire. There's a place where the path kind of peters out, just after a quite exposed traverse section with a wee rock step. There was then a quite unpleasant grassy mantle onto a pretty unpleasant sloping turfy ledge maybe a metre wide, which feels incredibly exposed.

To the left there was a kind of groove up between two big slabby boulders full of shatter, but after that it seemed to lead onto no man's land. So we opted right, where there's a slightly overhanging bit of broken crag maybe 2 metres high, about half way up there's another slanting grassy ledge maybe a foot wide followed by another step up. About two metres above there's a very precarious looking shattered boulder seeming overhanging above your head.

I figured that since the fear had already taken us, trying to reverse the step onto the wee thin ledge would be damn near impossible. So after some soul searching we carefully dropped down back on to the path with wobbly legs and picked our way back along the exposed section and down to the wide grassy ridge, and then traversed round and up the SE ridge. Even with all that drama we summited, went down the NE ridge and back to the car 7 hours total :D

I'm probably clutching at straws but does any of that sound familiar to you or anyone? I just go into so much excruciating detail because even though terrifying the route was a beautiful setting, and if I have a chance to do it again but correctly I'd jump at the chance. Although to be honest I think it was just my route finding and/or the very loose turf and slanty holdless crag that put the sh**s up me rather than anything else! I remember thinking through the fear how much I'd like a good freeze!!
Joak - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan: Aye you were probably just a wee bit too far right. Theres a faint path runs out to the left before the steepening, I've never followed it and always wondered if this goes all the way across Coire an t-sneachda to join Lui's south ridge. This middle section you describe is always a bit of a too and fro picking the best line to suit your inclination and conditions on the day. Sounds like to me you had a great wee mountain adventure on a beautifull mountain, better than folowing the polish and the dot to dot crampon scratches on a well trodden easy to follow route HaHa!! Go back and do it in winter when snow conditions dictate sticking to ridges is the safer option. You'll no be dissapointed.
In reply to TheseKnivesMan: I can't picture it in enough detail (been a while) but I do suspect you were a wee bit too far right from how exciting it sounds. Joak's right, do it again in winter
Lankyman - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan: we did this in summer last year and I found it a little disappointing as a scramble - not particularly ridge-like and most difficulties easily bypassed. If you kept to the right you could get over some huge drops but that was not necessary. I agree the rock was suspect in parts but not dangerously so to an experienced hill-goer. Although not a great scramble it is a great way up a fine mountain.
Now, a place I did find very intimidating was the north ridge of Ben Hope, so much so that I backed off the crux this summer. The only technical part of the route is a virtually vertical step of about 10m above a drop of about two thousand feet. It felt like soloing a VS so I jibbed out to the bypass gully.
Jamie B - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

I rated it as a winter route; straightforward but scenic and a wiser option to Central Gully on the day!
Mark Bull - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan:

It's been a while since I did it, but I recall little difficulty. I think we headed left across the grassy ledge just below the skyline in this shot: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3072013
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Karl Lunt:
> Now, a place I did find very intimidating was the north ridge of Ben Hope, so much so that I backed off the crux this summer. The only technical part of the route is a virtually vertical step of about 10m above a drop of about two thousand feet. It felt like soloing a VS so I jibbed out to the bypass gully.

I did the same first time I was there. Last time I was with someone else, and we took a rope - it still felt unnerving! Brilliant place.
http://climbing.me.uk/NWScotland2009/Ben%20Hope/slides/P1040950.html
TheseKnivesMan - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Mark Bull:

Wow the bigger ledges really stand out in green grass instead of brown autumn grass. We were well right of that...basically on the edge of the corrie. Haha wow I really made an arse of this ridge. Thanks guys, it seems keep left is the order of the day. I'll know for next time.
Jamie B - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Wesley Orvis:

> not planning for only 5 hours daylight in December in Scotland was my major fuc* up

5 hours? Think you're overstating that somewhat!
Lankyman - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Karl Lunt)
> we took a rope - it still felt unnerving! Brilliant place.
>
After getting up the bypass gully I scooted back down the ridge to the top of the Bad Step just to see if I had really been a bit too soft. No, it looked like your photo and I'm glad I backed off while I still could - one mistake would be your last!
dunrig on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to TheseKnivesMan:

By coincidence I was on this ridge on saturday as well,it was fine the only thing that could be classed as a slight dificulty was a wee rock step which I 'Kneed up'- being a rubbish scambler & wanting to protect my camera. Obviously I took an easier line, my guess is you were seduced by the path instead of weaving your way diagonally up.I have done this in summer and winter before & never really thought about the route just followed my nose.

I have not read Dan Bailey's guide,and would defer to his greater expertise - what I would say is on a busy sunny saturday this was the road less travelled ( had it to myself) up Ben Lui and it made for an enjoyable day out...don't do it, don't waste your time in summer..
TheseKnivesMan - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to dunrig:

Just happy you didn't see me gibbering! Couldn;t be happier about the weather though.

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