The Grey Corries drew my attention last year when I was climbing the Munros on both banks of Loch Treig. Their peaks and upper slopes were unusually white-ish as if covered with snow; in fact it’s eroded quartzite giving that unusual look.
I predicted I’d need up to 12 hours to complete my route, so I decided to start as early as possible. In practical terms it meant I had to leave the house at night because getting to my starting point would take about 3 hours. Thanks to virtually no traffic I started my hike shortly before the sunrise, going along a farm track in Lairig Leacach towards a bothy at the foot of Stob Ban, the first of my planned four Munros. After a short stop there to feed the dog and replace batteries in my GPS I headed off further down the track to find a narrow path to the right and up the slope. It was a bit wet and muddy, but quite gently leading to the ridge with the triangular, steep pyramid of Stob Ban towering just over it. From the top the majestic view of the Grey Corries was simply breathtaking!
In order to get there I had to go down first through a really unpleasant patch of scree, moving under my feet, or wobbly blocks of rock. Beautiful from the distance, awful when walking through it. Thankfully it didn’t take long to reached the saddle between the two mountains, and after a short break I started climbing towards the summit of Stob Choire Claurigh, the second and the highest Munro of the day. It was relatively easy for most of the grassy slope. Near the top I had to tackle rock debris, and soon I was standing at the top looking at clouds covering the ridge of the Grey Corries. It was unusually calm and relatively warm, so I decided to wait a few minutes hoping for the clouds to disperse. It was successful to a certain extent. I didn’t want to waste too much time there so I went along the ridge towards its western end. It was pretty nice, not particularly demanding, though at times the ridge was pretty narrow, with big drops on either side. I was grateful there wasn’t strong winds. Eventually I reached the top of Stob Coire an Laoigh, the third Munro of the day. From there I saw the last one, Sgurr Choinnich Mor. I moved to a satellite summit of Stob Coire Easain, and from there I realised how deep and steep was the gap separating my current position and the last Munro.
At that point I was considering to abandon Sgurr Choinnich Mor; it was getting a bit late, I was tired, and the prospect of double climbing (I had to return the same way) was pretty disheartening. On the other hand, climbing this on another day would require a long drive (about six hours) and a long walk (about a day). So I moved down towards the saddle, and a few minutes later regretted it: the ridge was narrow, steep and rocky, and sometimes required involving all four. From the lowest point then I had to climb another steep slope, less rocky, but the path ran just along the edge of an almost vertical drop – scary! Finally I reached the top, took a couple of pictures, and started my return. Somehow it was a bit easier and quicker.
Back on the top Stob Coire Easain, I moved immediately down the slope along the north ridge. After some many hours spent walking on the rocks it was a genuine pleasure to tread short grass on the pleasantly soft ground. It was a long descend, at times along a pretty wet and muddy path in the lower and steeper parts of the ridge. After reaching the bottom of the glen I had cross a stream (thankfully not swollen) and then quite a dumbing walk through the woods back to my car. Almost exactly twelve hours after I’d started I was – tired but happy.