Hill: Beinn Dorain
Date: Friday 2nd February 2018
Company: Just myself
Distance: 10.7km, Ascent: 935m
Time: 5Hrs 35Mins

I travelled down to Crianlarich yesterday afternoon en-route to attending my mountaineering club's weekend meet in Glen Etive. This morning I reviewed the MWIS forecast and the SAIS forecast noting the weather forecast was suggesting 80% cloud-free Munros but the avalanche risk was 'considerable' . I therefore looked at numerous potential options selecting one with an approach via the direction of least risk. My hill of choice was Beinn Dorain.

I had only ascended Beinn Dorain once previously way back in 1999. I could remember little of my previous ascent except for the fact that I was not particularly fit at the time .

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

On arrival in Bridge of Orchy, I made myself a cup of coffee and had some breakfast in my van before getting suited and booted and heading off.

From the car park next to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, I made my way up the road leading to Bridge of Orchy Railway Station and then gained the open hillside via the railway underpass. Don't cross the railway line if doing this hill, use the underpass.

Bridge of Orchy station underpass:

Within five minutes beyond the underpass, I saw my first wildlife of the day, a Dipper.

A Dipper:

Looking back towards the Glen Orchy hills and Black Mount hills, I could see an almost full moon sitting just above the skyline. The following photo is at full zoom.

Moon over Glen Orchy hills:

Before long I was into soft snow. I followed the track as much as I could albeit I lost it temporarily a couple of times owing to the covering of snow.

Looking back towards the Black Mount hills:

I passed some deep drifts during the ascent at one point stepping into a snow-covered hole disappearing down the hole to above my waist. I managed to get out and thankfully had not hurt myself.

Ascent towards Coire an Dothaidh:

Looking back I could see the early morning sun starting to light-up the Black Mount summits.

Sunrise lighting-up the Black Mount hills:

I saw a good number of deer during the ascent of Coire an Dothaidh but most were some distance away and beyond the capability of my lens.

A young stag:

As well as plentiful deer there were also plentiful sheep a couple of which stood on a nearby rock watching my progress.

Being watched:

My poor route choice of the day was to ascend the right-side of the coire which led to numerous large boulders with snow-filled holes in between. It would have been better to stick to walking alongside the burn which I did during the walk out.

Ascent via Coire an Dothaidh:

To avoid potentially breaking my leg I made my way across the coire back towards the burn which I then followed up towards the col.

Ascent via Coire an Dothaidh:

Looking back during ascent via Coire an Dothaidh:

On reaching the col, I stopped for around ten minutes to have a drink, get my ice axe out and put on crampons. Just before setting off, I noticed another walker only a short distance behind following my footsteps. I thought "Great, hopefully he will take a turn at breaking trail". Alas, he did not and I stayed in front all the way to the summit.

At the col between Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain:

The ascent of Beinn Dorain was via a mix of soft snow and neve. I tried to stick to the neve as much as possible.

Loch Tulla and the Black Mount hills through the gap:

While it was tempting to also ascend Beinn an Dothaidh I ruled it out as I had broken trail all the way myself and had another two days of walking ahead with friends.

Beinn an Dothaidh:

Looking back:

On reaching steeper slopes I was wary of avalanche risk. However, the snow was mostly well-consolidated and I think the risk on Beinn Dorain was almost nil.

Ascending Beinn Dorain:

View during ascent:

Alas, during the final thirty minutes to the summit, low cloud had lifted from the glen onto the ridge. Whilst this did limit views, it did provide nice rainbows around the sun.

Mist rising onto the ridge:

One of the best views of the walk was from a cairn just below the ridgeline.

Great views from just above a viewpoint cairn:

The final ridge leading out to the summit looked a bit more 'interesting'. I could see multiple cornices ahead however the ridge was nice and wide so these posed no problem whatsoever. The rainbows around the sun were nice.

The final ridge leading to the summit with rainbows around the sun:

The final ridge leading to the summit:

The low sun resulted in long shadows some of which were fairly cool.

Looking back along the ridge:

It was great to reach the summit where I was soon joined by the lad from Czech Republic. We had a nice chat about various Scottish hills and on being asked which Munro was my favourite viewpoint, I answered A' Mhaighdean. I also provided some advice about Ladhar Bheinn as he was keen to visit Knoydart and ascend Ladhar Bheinn from Inverie.

At the summit of Beinn Dorain:

The views from the summit were pretty-good especially the view of Ben Cruachan.

View from the summit of Beinn Dorain:

Ben Cruachan from the summit of Beinn Dorain:

View from the summit of Beinn Dorain:

Looking back from the summit of Beinn Dorain:

Standing atop the summit cairn:

Ben Lui hills from the summit of Beinn Dorain:

After spending around ten minutes at the summit I made my way back following my footsteps in the snow. During the walk back to the col, I passed five other walkers and on reaching the col met a party of around eight climbers some of whom were already wearing harnesses with sizeable climbing racks attached.


Long shadows:

The descend of Coire an Dothaidh seemed to take forever and I must admit I was glad to reach my van, stick on the kettle and have some lunch.

I suspect the weather tomorrow is not going to be anywhere near as nice but hopefully Sunday will be good .

A really enjoyable day out on a cracking hill.