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Sunday, 1 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 6: Kinlochleven to Strathossian (15)

The ascent of Ceann Caol Beinn na Lap gave me a wonderful vantage point from which to get a photograph of Loch Ossian Youth Hostel and Corrour Station, together with the vast emptiness beyond them that is Rannoch Moor. But it also enabled me to see that the cloud base was coming down all around, and left me wondering whether I was going to have clear weather at the top or not.

That question was answered for me at 6 pm when I entered the cloud. I took a GPS location fix, which told me that I was a kilometer short of the summit, with 150 metres of ascent still required to reach it. I wasn't too bothered by this. The landform was readable even in poor visibility. There was no wind or pelting rain. So I pressed on for the summit.

Beinn na Lap has many false summits; and the map does not show a spot at which the highest altitude of 935 metres is reached. It does show a cairn, just to the north of the little lochan, but there are many mountains with a cairn on the summit plateau which is not actually a summit cairn. In poor visibility on the summit plateau, I eventually came to a point which was clearly higher than anything else around me. It did not have a cairn, and I had not seen the lochan, but it was evident that there was nowhere higher for me to go to. It was 6.30 pm.

I took a GPS fix which placed me on the summit plateau alright, with an accuracy of +/- 3 metres. It gave me an elevation of 933 metres. That is 2 metres shy of the height given on the map; but (a) maps aren't always accurate in their elevations (that's why they keep adding and deleting marginal Munros), and (b) I presumed that the stated accuracy variance of the GPS applies to vertical as well as horizontal displacement, and 935 metres is within the bracket of 933 metres +/- 3. I therefore texted Challenge Control and my wife to tell them that I was at the summit of Beinn na Lap and about to embark on the descent of the North ridge in poor visibility. I checked the bearing I needed to walk on, set it up on my compass, headed in that direction, and very quickly found a trodden path and the little lochan which is shown on the map. This was looking good.

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