Posts Tagged ‘Munro bagging’

Snowless in Elphin

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

For the 2018/9 New Year meet we returned to the excellent little hut in Elphin, up in the far northwest of Scotland. One of these days we'll get there to coincide with some good winter's weather, but not this time, mild weather through December led to largely snow-free conditions.

Of course, that didn't stop us 9 of us making the long journey north, and it's a fantastic place to be in (almost) any conditions.

Ben Hope

We arrived on Boxing Day, and the following day the best conditions were due to be further east, so Carmen and I headed north and east for an ascent of Meall Horn, a Corbett near Arkle. An overcast day nevertheless stayed dry and the cloud mostly above the summits, with some great views to the sunny peaks around Ben Hope. Meanwhile, Annie and Peter diced with death on Cul Beag but lived to tell the tale.

Meall Doire Faid

The next day we headed south, again chasing the weather, and again got lucky with a sunny ascent of Beinn Enaiglair, another Corbett near Braemore Junction. A long approach spiralled round to the far side of the hill before climbing old stalkers' paths to the top, descending the other side and back up from the col to bag a Graham summit, Meall Doire Faid.

Annie and Peter set off to walk up Quinag, but after half an hour sat in the car park watching the rain, they settled for a walk to Eas a Chual Aluinn, the highest waterfall in the country.

On 29th the rest of the group arrived, so of course the weather took a turn for the worse.

Mike, Pete W and Rob repeated their now traditional late start on a long walk near shortest day with an ascent of the Assynt Munros, including some consternation about the descent from the ridge (minor epic narrowly averted) getting back just a tad after dark.

Carmen and I headed south again, to pick up an insignificant Munro Top near Meall nan Ceapraichean – the only Munro summit in the Beinn Dearg group that we didn't go up on the 2011 LAMM – we'd traversed 20m below the summit! Today we weren't so lucky with the weather, which stayed resolutely damp and dismal with low cloud, so having ticked the summit we headed back, detouring slightly to visit one of the impressive waterfalls in the glen (an advantage of the poor weather!).

Peri and Karl found the best weather on Ben More Coigach, a fine mountain overlooking the sea north of Ullapool.

Falls of Kirkaig

The next day was once again damp and windy, with cloud levels even lower, so we had a team walk to the Falls of Kirkaig, impressively full of water after all the rain.

New Year's Eve was a repeat, only windier, so various groups did various low level bimbles – some to the Clachtoll Broch, others to the crags at Reiff, others to the coast near Lochinver.

Then it was the traditional NYE haggis over-eating, over-drinking, and struggling to stay awake until midnight, followed the next day by fine weather, snow on the hills, and a long drive home.

Some more photos here

Cairngorm winter – February 2018 Glen Clova

Monday, February 19th, 2018

The Scottish trip in February saw us heading to Glen Clova in the southern Cairngorms, keen to make the most of a good forecast and hopefully some great conditions. Axes and crampons were sharpened, skis dusted off and way too much food packed as we made our way to the newly refurbished Braedownie hut, which is owned by the Carn Dearg MC.

A few keen members had gone up early to try and get an extra day in. On Friday Paul and Jamie took the gear for a walk up Corrie Fee, sadly the conditions weren't quite as good as hoped, and all the gullies looked a "bit deathy" (Jamie's words!), so they followed Simon and Carmen up the buttress of Craig Rennet (deep, soft snow and heather).

Rob takes up the story for Saturday: "After much discussion and lots of delays while waiting for the rain to stop, Jamie, Paul, Rob, Dave, Russ, Dan and Peri headed off towards Winter Corrie in the light drizzle. The Walk in is quite straightforward and takes a little over an hour. We were greeted with a view of much snow and huge cornices overhanging the main buttresses. The line of Diagonal Gully did appear to have lots of ice on it but we decided against it. Peri retreated back to the hut before taking a stroll to Corrie Fee, the rest of us made our way to the centre of the Corrie and had a lunch break by the huge boulder.

We picked a route up the eastern (less loaded) slopes which was cornice free and with rocks to join up in a route to the rim. We all trudged up, put our crampons on before tackling a few rock steps on the way to the top. Dan ran laps around various bits of the slope with a huge grin on his face.

We topped out in calm, bright sunshine and blue skies and were rewarded with wonderful panoramic views. The team then plodded to Driesh summit and hid by the trig point before splitting up. Paul, Jamie and Dave route marched over to Mayar and down the Kilbo path. Rob Dan and Russ navved back to the corrie and descended the spur, which was occasionally eventful with deep snow and large patches. At the bottom, they crossed the style of doom and the found the bridge which made a short walk back to the hut".

While they were all playing in Winter corrie, another group of 6 headed further on to Corrie Fee to have a look. Again this was found to be powdery and unconsolidated, although everyone managed a route of some kind, sticking well clear of the unstable looking gullies. After ascending the left hand side buttress, Richard and Pete continued over the plateau to the Munros of Mayar (928m) and Driesh (947m) in the sunshine, with some great sastrugi patterns to admire on the way across.

Jamie: "On Sunday, being pretty knackered and thoroughly sick of carrying a big sack, I went for a wee run in the snow, telling Paul I'd be back in an hour, which turned out to be 13km, climbed to over 700m (at the shelter) and took 2h15m. Only out by 125%!" .

Pete, Mike and Richard having seen the cracking conditions on the plateau the day before were keen to get the skis out and head up for a day tour. After boot-packing up Glen Doll they popped the skis on at the forest edge and skinned up Jock's road past the emergency shelter to tick off their first munro on ski (Tolmount, 958m).

The tour continued over the Munro Tom Buidhe (957m) as the viz came and went in the strong wind, and then the cloud came down properly, resulting in some challenging navigation to get off the plateau. Turns out trying to estimate how far you've travelled and contouring on skis is pretty tricky! Sadly they couldn't do the best downhill ski sections justice in the white out, and found their way down corrie fee before hiking back through the forest to the hut.

Monday was the day to travel home, and with a poor forecast most were planning short trips out before hitting the road. This resulted in a pleasant group walk up to Loch Brandy from the valley bottom behind the hotel. Some carried on to the Corbett 'The Goet' (Ben Tirran) unfortunately no views to reward them, but they did find a bothy to eat lunch out of the weather. Peri went for a 'powder swim' up driesh in an 'epic' amount of snow following fresh falls overnight getting some fabulous views before the clag blew in.

Apologies I don't have a record of what everyone got up to, but all agreed it was a great weekend of winter adventures, hanging out in the mountains with friends, and of course calorie loading YAC style!

Muir Cottage – Braemar

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Eight members made it the August Bank Holiday meet in Braemar. The forecast improved as time went on and the weather was not as bad as expected – apart from Monday.

Saturday morning saw some of the bikers up early tinkering with their bikes (Andrew) for what seemed like hours. Then Andrew and Peter drove for what seemed like (because it was) hours to dump a vehicle at Blair Atholl. Meanwhile Annie and Karen headed to the cafe – for a quick coffee and bite to eat. They needn't have rushed as the drivers/bikers did not return until 1pm. Then it was time for lunch of course. So after an early start at 2pm! they set off on their ride down Glen Tilt – again.

Meanwhile the walkers Richard and Dave D went off to bag Carn Bhac – in the rain. Dave D had been keen to tag on another Munro but fortunately for Richard the clag removed interest in this option.

Having done all the local Munros and with a big day planned for Sunday and dinner to finish cooking, Simon and I settled for a nearby Corbett (Sgor Mor) which could be done from the hut. We waited until it stopped raining before setting off – looking out for the bikers throughout our walk-in – little did we know they were still hours behind. It was a pretty walk with all the heather in bloom – we never normally see Scotland at this time of year due to a certain small insect. The cloud was down on the surrounding hills, but we remained cloud-free throughout. The descent off the hill was slow progress as we trudged through heather, down past the bee hives and back to the forest and river. As soon as we stopped to remove waterproofs we were surrounded by midges which encouraged a quick retreat back to the hut arriving shortly before 4pm! Arriving just behind us was Karen who had been out for a local cycle.

Around 8:30pm the bikers finally returned, slightly subdued, the ride having been harder work and less cyclable than they had remembered from last time. However, they soon perked up with curry and beer, followed by rhubarb crumble.

Sunday had the best forecast and Simon and I had big plans – so we left the hut before anyone else was up. We cycled in to Glen Slugain – me moaning somewhat as the track was worse than I had imagined (didn't help that it was first time on a bike since last year). We then went on a long walk over Ben Avon and Beinn a'Bhuird, made somewhat longer by taking in all the tops (Simon is slowly turning into Charles). It was a good day for it though with cloud-free tops and mainly blue skies. Cold wind throughout – which would have made standing around climbing unpleasant, so a good decision to go for the walking option.

The rest of the club headed for Derry lodge where they split– Andrew, Karen and Richard R went up Derry Cairngorm. Meanwhile, Annie, Pete and Dave D went up Beinn Mheadhoin, followed by Derry Cairngorm. Both groups had a mix of people on foot and bikes and so there was a bit of a wait at the cars afterwards.

Unsurprisingly Simon and I were back to the hut last – but at a reasonable time 8pm. 11hrs 15 mins for our cycle/walk. Midges were only an issue when we collected the bikes. It is amazing how it can go from no midges to being absolutely covered in midges in the space of 2 seconds! Thanks go to Dave D for shopping for the communal meal which Karen cooked whilst Dave D opted for a longer walk – so many thanks to Karen as well. Annie had remembered it was my birthday – so dessert was replaced with a large chocolate cake – many thanks to all.

Monday – rain, rain, rain. A good day for most to be heading home. A blistered toe and wet weather saw Dave D and Richard heading straight home, as did Pete. Andrew & Karen were heading up north to stay in a lighthouse. Forecast was for it to get wetter with gale force winds – so Annie, myself and Simon headed Ballater way. We went for a short walk to 'The Vat', a product of glacial erosion, and followed the river through woodland for a couple of miles before heading back through woods and moorland. The trees were festooned with lichen which was all very pretty. We stopped at a very nice cafe in Ballater for coffee and cake before heading back to the hut for tea and cake.

Tuesday morning – sunshine and showers and even more squirrels. Simon had been feeding the birds/squirrels over the weekend. We had only ever spotted 2 red squirrels at the same time but today there were three – chasing each other from the feeder, plus a woodpecker which went on the nuts whilst the squirrels out of the way. Not a bad breakfast view.

After tidying the hut – Simon and I headed south to Craig a Barns near Dunkeld. We didn't hold out much hope of climbing given the recent rain and strong cold winds. However, we arrived at the crag in the sunshine and sheltered from most of the wind. We were overdressed to start with! However, it gradually clouded over and winds increased – but we managed to get 2 single pitch routes and a two-pitch route in before the rains arrived. Simon retreated off his last route of the day as the heavens opened. Good little crag for a stop off on the drive back south as just off the A9 and with a 5 min walk in. Some of the routes suffer with drainage more than others – but not bad considering the persistent rain on Monday. Annie was last seen heading south possibly via a friend’s house in Edinburgh.

All in all in a good trip to a lovely hut. Certainly wouldn't have wanted to be camping!

Red squirrel movies – can be seen on following links

Photos from Carmen and Simon and David

Midgetastic LAMM

Friday, June 15th, 2012

It was that time of the year again – time to kick start the mountain marathon season with the LAMM (Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon) which is always held in Scotland. Last year was a Northern year – so this year we knew it wouldn't be quite so far. Simon & I were already holidaying in Scotland – so even less of a drive for us. Fortunately there was a mobile signal in the camp site at Morvich so we were able to find out the location of the event centre (always only released on the Thursday before the event) nr Ben Cruachan.

It was lovely and breezy when we arrived at the camp site in the afternoon. Unfortunately this did not last long and by evening it was getting rather midgy. The midges were even more irritating in the morning. I gave up trying to scoop the midges out of my tea – it only seemed to make more space for others to land! I ate my malties walking up and down frantically and having the occasional respite with the midge net lowered.

We had an 07:30 assembly time – so left the camp site at 07:20. At 07:45 we were on the coach and driven off to the mystery location of the start. This turned into a much longer trip than ever intended – the coach driver took a few wrong turns and took us to Victoria Bridge via Glen Coe. Hence we arrived at the start at 09:10 with at least one later bus arriving before us.

We were on the score course – planning our own route and had a number of alterations throughout the day. We didn't feel that we were choosing the best line and doubted anyone else would have chosen the same order of controls. As we headed back towards the finish time was running out fast – we were forced to run all the way from the last control to the finish, passing Rob and Pete B along the track to the finish. They thought we must be hours late given our earlier start time (unaware of our mystery coach tour) – however we made it back with 24 seconds to spare (out of 7 hours). The weather was excellent all day, with just a couple of passing showers, in stark contrast to the forecast rain and low cloud!

Rob & Pete had their own agenda for the weekend. Both had injury problems and decided to take it easy. Rob was in Munro-bagging mode and used the opportunity to visit summits which had no controls on them! They scored other points along the route and didn't do at all badly given they were not really trying.

The overnight camp site was in a lovely spot but was midge hell once the wind dropped. Most people were driven inside tents rather early due to the swarm of midges. Annie you would have loved to have been there! Things were not any better in the morning – I didn't remove my windproof and midge net until we had finished marking up the maps and were off on the move.

The cloud was rather lower today and so we decided to stick to controls that should be easier to find. Fortunately we did not get too wet until the last hour or so when the rain started and soon became rather heavy. We managed to finish with a whole 2 and a bit minutes to spare this time. Meanwhile Rob and Pete had been off bagging a couple more unnecessary Munros and sauntered in with 22 mins to spare.

Overall we finished 14/81. We were rather amazed as we felt we had chosen poor controls and I was unable to run much given the ever lasting cough and lack of training. Rob & Pete finished 47/81 without even trying and having bagged four new Munros not on the scoring route!

More photos here
Our routes Day 1 and Day 2
Results and reports here