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The Contract Management Team at ECG Facilities Services have completed the challenge of hiking the mighty Buachaille Etive Mòr on 23rd October in aid of our Charity partnerships with both Rangers and Celtic Football Clubs Charitable Foundations.
Our aim was to hike/scramble/walk/crawl, if necessary, the Mountain Range taking a circular route up the Coire na Tulaich to the Bealach, then up and over to the Highest peak Stob Dearg. From there it was a traverse over the peaks to Stob na Broige with a return down off the mountains via Coire Altruim into Lairig Gartain, following the River Coupall all the way back to the Car Park at Altnafeadh.
The Donations & Thanks
A massive thank you to all our staff, our friends, our family, our Clients and Service Partners alike that have so generously donated to our Challenge. We set the marker at £5,000 but in as little as 6 weeks you have smashed this by contributing the huge sum of £8,327, which will be matched by ECG Facilities Services making the total so far, an eye watering £16,654. We still have a few more donations being forwarded and may yet still be adding to the sum, however our intention is to close the Just Giving donations page over the next few days and anyone still wishing to donate can still do this via the link below.
The day started with the Team meeting up at the Car Park at Altnafeadh on the A82 in Glencoe. Spirits were high within the group, and all were eager to get started. The weather looked good with it being dry and the possibility of a bit of sun trying to break through. The mountain looked magnificent with just a lingering cloud cover obscuring the peak at Stob Dearg.
At 8.00am we were on the winding path leading past the ‘wee white house’ to start on the mountain proper, with the arduous hike up Coire na Tullaich. This section although well defined with a good path is steep, however we made great progress still in good dry weather that was becoming warmer as the morning moved on. Near the top of the Bealach there was a bit of light scrambling over a steep section of rocks to get the heart racing.
Once over the Bealach we found ourselves in the Clouds and full rain-ware was donned for the relatively easy section up to the top of the first and highest peak, reaching this in just over 2hrs. Unfortunately, all views off the mountain were obscured due to the clouds, however after a few photos of the team and a celebratory drink from the hip flask we all set off to conquer the mountain range.
This is where it started to rain and so much for the mountain forecasts that morning that indicated a relatively dry day with rain not starting until 2pm. It was only 10.30am and the rain came down …….and it did not stop for the rest of the day. Turning to hail at one point and coupled with a driving wind touching 50mph, to say the rest of the day was a ‘challenge’ may have been understating it somewhat!
However, we were on the Mountain, and we had a mission so it was onwards into a relentless soaking cloud, with visibility closing to around 100m the spectacular views of the Buachaille Etive Mor will need to wait for another day.
The rest of the day on the mountain became a slog with the dwindling visibility it was difficult just to keep to the route across the peaks and with a few head scratching moments and wrong turns onto the precarious Eas Blar Eite Ridge we eventually managed to find our way up and over the 2nd Peak at Stob na Doire, where we stopped for a well-earned lunch break.
This was a pitiful site with a soaking wet bunch of hikers sitting huddled in an exposed boulder patch, the relentless rain creating soggy sandwiches and damp crisps to fuel the rest of the journey. Lunch was cut short by the necessity to at least keep moving as time was marching on and we still had 2 peaks to ‘find’ and scale.
The ‘climb’ down the back side of Stob na Doire made for some interesting hiking along the ridge line connecting to the 3rd peak at Stob Coire Altruim with the wind picking up forcing more rain into what could only be described as a dedicated (or slightly mad at this point) bunch of hikers. The views from this ridge line towards the 3rd peak were tantalising as every so often the mountain would show glimpses through the clouds and rain but disappear as quickly to a murky greyness, we had all become somewhat used to by now.
We had passed one or two intrepid hikers by this time who had decided enough was enough and time to get off the mountain, but the team still had some motivation left to keep going, besides it couldn’t get any wetter……or so we thought! So, showing some real dedication and determination we wound our way down ignoring the exit point where the path down off the mountain at Coire Altruim began and started the ‘climb’ up Stob Coire Altruim the 3rd peak on our list.
At this point a sensible decision was made to summit the 3rd peak and determine the exit strategy due to the closing weather and fading light. A 3.00pm deadline was set to summit Stob Coire Altruim, take a few wet photos and get ourselves back down to the Coire Altruim, which would give the team time in daylight to get back to the comfort of dry cars.
Third peak ascended and descended back down to the exit point and feeling somewhat deflated that the final Munro was just out of reach we were also looking forward to the descent back off the mountains hopefully giving some break from the exposure to the wind and rain. However, the path downwards consisting of some large rock slabs and steep steps had turned into what could only be described as a continuous waterfall making the descent fun but slow going. By 4.30pm we had reached ground level into the Lairig Gartain Glen running between the Buachaille Etiv Mor and the Buachaille Etiv Beag mountain ranges.
We were ‘home & dry’ or so we thought ……. The path out of the Glen is long but mercifully level and we were on the final leg, the rain had not stopped but had died down to a steady drizzle. The wind had thankfully stopped blowing and with a small break to fill up on sweets and chocolate, along with squeezing out soaking hats and gloves we set off to cross the small stream that is the River Coupall to reach the well-trodden path homeward.
However, the day had one last hurdle to throw at us and in reaching what should have been a gentle stream with easy stepping-stones to cross had actually turned into a 4m wide raging river flowing above knee height, which had to be forded. The amount of rain that had fallen during the whole day had ensured that if we were not already soaked through that getting back home meant we would have no choice but to ‘dive’ in.
So, showing the spirit and ingenuity that is Team ECG the guys put their Engineering prowess to good use and built a bridge !!!!…….. unfortunately, at this point the only building was one of laughter at the predicament as we all, one by one, realised that there was NO option but to wade in, hope we weren’t washed downstream and pull ourselves across the river. Thankfully no one fell in, and we managed to reach the relative comfort of the path home.
5.30pm and job done. We had tramped the mountains in as bad a set of conditions as you would care to, covering around 16km, climbing over 1000m and we had made it back approximately 9hrs later, cold, wet, sore but elated that the Challenge was done. It was time to head off to our abode for the evening where our trusty ground crew had prepared an amazing and well-deserved dinner along with a few toasts and tales to tell.
Although still recovering! We are extremely proud of the achievement and the effort seen by all in the support and messages forwarded. We were also genuinely humbled by the level of donations received and we will proudly be handing this over to the Charities in the next few weeks. In the meantime, we have attached a few photos of the day……just to prove how bad the weather was! We also have a few videos on our website along with more photos for anyone who needs a good laugh. Thank you all again.