Sunday, 1 June 2014
The 2014 Challenge, day 6: Kinlochleven to Strathossian (15)
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.