Manse Barn, Onich

March 16th, 2011 by Tom S

The Manse Barn is a small hut, a bit cramped but next door to the Onich hotel which provided a second living room, otherwise known as a bar.

Jamie Brown, Simon Caldwell, Roy Crouch, Paul Davies, Carmen Elphick, Fliss Emery, Ann Gostling, Michael Marven, Tom Shepherd, Will Smith, Rob Stone, Peri Stracchino all made the trip north.

Friday
Will and Rob got up at 6am and were walking in by 7.15 heading for North Butress (IV, 4) on Buachaille Etive Mor – a classic winter line following a grade 3 scramble. They were still walking in by 9.30 having wandered around the hillside looking for the start! (for reference the Great Gully is a square cut gully with large red slabs where the path crosses it, previous gullies don’t reach the path or are scree slopes!) 4 great pitches of not-too-hard climbing with good gear and 5 abs back down felt like a proper mountaineering day out.

Roy, Tom, Fliss, Annie, Jamie, Michael, Peri and Paul headed up the Lost Valley with the aim of finding some decent slopes to play on. On the way up Fliss slipped crossing a stream and cracked her rib on a rock. She carried on up, but after a while decided it would be better to head down, accompanied by Annie and Michael. As the others headed higher, the snow got deeper and steeper, and more avalanche-prone. The weather was not promising, so after reaching about 900 m, they too turned round and headed down. Much snowball rolling took place on the descent with small balls growing cartoon-style as they rolled down the slope. This was followed by a long bum slide in soft snow.

Simon and Carmen did Golden Oldie (grade II) on Aonach Mor, taking 90 minutes or so to find the start. Climbed it in 10 pitches, whiteout on the summit, and the gondola had stopped running due to the wind/lack of visibility so they had an extra hour's walk down through the forest to end the day. Great fun!

Saturday
I blame modern technology for the short day on Saturday. Those with fancy internet enabled phones were able to download an updated weather forecast on Friday evening. This said that gale force winds and heavy snow were on the way. With this in mind we didn’t set the alarms and got up late. Looking out of the window, it appeared to have snowed a bit overnight, and the cloud was at about 700 metres. It didn’t appear too bad, but nobody wanted to venture too far or too high in case the predicted onslaught was late and caught us out. In the event, the weather was no worse than either of the other days, and we could have done more.

Will, Roy, Rob and Mike walked up to the Steall falls and jungle bashed up the side, while Fliss and Tom walked along the valley below. They then joined forces, via a wee river wade, for tea and cake in Fort William.

Peri, Paul and Jamie went over on the Corran Ferry, intending to do a scramble further down the coast, but while they were on the ferry they noticed what seemed like a really interesting horseshoe ridge opposite. They decided to do a recce on that instead, walking steeply up beside a waterfall to a hanging valley and then into the corrie and then up the ridge. They got as far as the snowline when clag and a minor snowstorm hit, so believing this to be the start of the forecast stormy weather they turned back. This turned out to be complete bollocks(TM), and by the time they arrived back at the bottom of the hill the day was dry again, which was rather annoying, but decision made they then headed to Fort Bill where they bumped into the others and Shopped for Victory.

Simon and Carmen ventured into the Lost Valley, where the valley floor was now carpeted in snow. But decided against going higher due to the approaching storm etc etc, you get the idea by now!

Sunday
Since Roy had been obviously disappointed at missing his Munros on Friday, Peri, Jamie and Paul decided to join him in his quest for Buchaille Etive Beag before heading back home. Conditions on the hill were excellent, deep snow, in perfect condition for walking, and just enough wind and whiteout up on the summit to make it feel a bit wild and exhilarating. They made it in excellent time, up and down by 2.30 pm even with time for pie and ribena breaks.

Carmen, Simon and Annie walked up Ben Vane (by Loch Lomond). A lot more snow than further north, so going was slow and Annie had an epic. They reached what was probably the summit but it was hard to be certain as visibility was well below 20m!

Will and Rob were up at 6am again and in a repeat of Friday were walking in at 7.15, this time to Stob Ban, east ridge of the north butress, about II/III ** depending on line. Another longer-than-expected walk in of about 2 hours and it was cold and windy at the gearing-up point. They choose to avoid most of the difficulties to make a mountaineering day of it soloing, Ueli Steck style in an hour, past another team pitching some harder options. A really, really good fun route and one to go back to and make life awkward. White out on top had them on a bearing and slopes aspects to reach the summit before descent on the normal route. Will wishes he took his goggles as he suffered in the wind.

Fliss, Tom and Michael went on a short walk up Beinn Bheag (opposite Buchaille Etive Mor), and then headed home.

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3 Responses to “Manse Barn, Onich”

  1. Simon C says:

    The reason it was "a bit cosy" might be related to the fact there were 12 of us but only space for 10!

    Our photos here
    http://climbing.me.uk/Onich/index.html

  2. lithos says:

    easy space for 12 iIMHO, could have squished up a bit for sleeping, Not a bad hut given its limited size, and a great location !

  3. pebbles says:

    easy space for 11 – plus one unknown Snorer Extraordinaire deported outside….

    Not so sure about the hut location, was about 10 metres from the main road north and the vibration from passing lorries was 24 hour. Unless of course that was just the Snorer.

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