Archive | Winter Hill Walking

Three days in Torridon

After a few weeks of unsettled weather, we decided upon a trip to an area we had not visited since last Summer – Torridon.

On Tuesday morning we set the alarms for 4am, and made the early morning commute northwards. As soon as Beinn Eighe came into view from the road, its overwhelming superiority over the entire valley looked too appealing to drive past. So plan A of Beinn Alligin was left for another day.

We folded our maps, packed our bags and set off up the good well maintained path to reach the snow line at 450m. We headed on up through Coire an Laoigh, and stopped for a bite to eat and put our crampons on before the snow slope steepened infront of us. There were a few pockets of windslab dotted about the coire, so we stuck to the rockier wind scoured sections for safe progress. Soon we reached the ridge line and were surrounded by fantastic panoramic views in all directions.

Coire an Laoigh

Coire an Laoigh

Looking South

Looking South towards Lochcarron

We plodded on up admiring the landscapes and reached the trig point on Spidean Coire nan Clach. The true summit was a short scramble away and offered amazing views over the eastern summits of Beinn Eighe ridge.

Spidean Coire nan Clach summit

Spidean Coire nan Clach summit

It was a rare winter day where we didn’t mind hanging around and constantly found ourselves stopping to take yet another photo! The wind was practically non existent and the ridge remained cloud free all day – the map and compass never left our rucksacks.

Ruadh-stac Mor was the second Munro, and had equally fantastic views to those from Spidean Coire nan Clach.

Sail Mhor (right) and the Triple Buttress (left) from Ruadh-stac Mor summit

The Triple Buttress (left) and Sail Mhor (right) from Ruadh-stac Mor summit

We descended into Coire Mhic Fhearchair from the col between Ruadh-stac Mor and Coinneach Mhor and were presented with inspiring views of the triple buttress. The amphitheatre looked remarkably atmospheric, and the camera was out again!

Keith looking across Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair towards the triple buttress

Keith looking across Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair towards the triple buttress

Next came the long slog out back to the car. The scenery was still pleasant, although much more summery down in the valley. We put our headtorches on as it reached 5pm, and got back to the car for 6pm.

The day took us 8.5 hours in total, with a lot of faffing around enjoying the views. It could certainly be done at least an hour quicker!

We then headed down towards Torridon village itself and pitched the tent at the free campsite for a well deserved meal and sleep :-)

More pictures of Beinn Eighe can be found in our facebook album.

Wednesday, we woke up to the sound of heavy rain lashing down onto the tent. The thought of getting all of our kit soaked with still another two days to go put us off and we decided to chill out and wait for the better weather on Thursday.

We initially planned to do the Beinn Alligin traverse on Thursday, taking in the horns at a mere winter grade 1, but the thaw on Wednesday had stripped a lot of the snow. We decided to leave the route until it was in its prime winter condition and headed over to Fionn Bheinn.

Fionn Bheinn is a fairly short day, but the summit has some amazing views of all the giant Torridonian Munros and the other significant peaks in the area. It’s certainly a fantastic view point!

Once again we had blue skies and minimal wind, giving us yet another awesome winter day out.

A stunning cloud inversion covering the valley

A stunning cloud inversion covering the valley

Noticeable cornice slumps due to temperature fluctuations

Noticeable cornice slumps due to temperature fluctuations

FIonn Bheinn summit

Fionn Bheinn summit

More pictures of Fionn Bheinn can be found on our facebook page here.

Schiehallion

As their Xmas present, we promised Dad and Lorraine a day in the hill with us. We planned for April, expecting summery conditions as it would only be Lorraine’s second proper hill day. However, the awesome long lived winter meant that we chose Schiehallion.

Theres still quite a bit of snow up there. It was thawing throughout the day, and crampons weren’t required. Quite appalling the number of people up there completely unprepared for the hill but I guess thats what happens when things are easily accessible.

It was a lovely day, perfect weather, and I think they both enjoyed themselves. Keith and I had a wee play sledging on a survival bag as well haha.

Janey, Dad, Keith on the way up
Looking over towards the summit
Keith and I looking over towards the Lawer’s range
Keith with his Dad and Lorraine just before the summit
Lawer’s area looking awesome for ski touring

Stob Ban North Ridge and Mullach nan Coirean

Yesterday, with an awesome looking forecast we decided to opt for a ridge walk and enjoy the views/weather rather than be restricted to a crag face, probably queuing behind several others just to climb a route. This also allowed us to have a few hours extra in bed!

We headed up Stob Ban (via its North Ridge – grade I) followed by its neighbouring munro Mullach nan Coirean. The graded ‘climbing’ only really lasted for about 50 metres or so and was more like alpine scrambling in todays conditions. The snow line is up at about 700metres now and is rock solid neve/ice, so crampons were required even on quite gentle slopes.

Lunch Spot, with a view of the Ben behind.
setting off along the ridge

approaching the summit of Stob Ban
Keith at Stob Ban’s summit

Keith looking out to Mullach nan Coirean
North Ridge
Keith with Stob Ban in the background
Summit of Mullach nan Coirean
Timed perfectly for the sun starting to set!
Amazing day in the hill! Now its time for pancakes and to head down to the borders for a day on the bikes, then maybe back out in the hills again on Sunday :) 
Janey and Keith

Meall Ghaordaidh and some epic driving conditions!

On Friday morning after a few days of cold weather we thought we would go and have a look at Eas Anie before the weekend of thaw. We didn’t want to waste the day walking in and out for it to not be in condition so we thought it would be a good idea to try and drive our people carrier along the snow covered land rover track. It certainly was not. We made it about 1km out of the 4 before this happened…

woops!

A couple of hours later we managed to free ourselves and made it back to the main road! Snow chains snapped in half, and the poor car being through quite an ordeal. Lesson number one: People carriers are not meant for offroading!

By this point it was around 11.30am so a bit late in the day to do much else so we headed over to Glencoe mountain to see what condition the piste skiing was in. The weather wasn’t looking good though so we opted not to waste the money for them to then decide to close. We had a nap and headed back down to Tyndrum for some food in the real food cafe and mobile signal to check conditions for Saturday.

As the snow was really wet and slushy (and it was raining) the next morning, we headed back down the road to see if conditions for skiing were better anywhere else. We tried to go and have a look at Sgiath Chuil and its neighbour but once again got the car stuck in the snow. Now that we had no snow chains it was even more epic having to scrape all the slush off to road to free ourselves. Lesson number two was learnt: people carriers are not good in slushy snow without chains. By this point I was sick of spending a large proportion of my weekend digging so driving down any dodgy looking roads was out of the question.

So eventually at 11am we arrived at the car park for Meall Ghaordaidh – success! The snow was quite wet below 400m and water logged our skins, but above there conditions were pretty awesome, just a bit thin in places. We started off having a really nice day, but of course Scotland being Scotland, the bad weather made its way towards us. We made it to about 800m in fairly nice weather, then the wind picked up and the whiteout arrived, making the top slopes towards the summit very interesting on skis! Quite scary actually, but thats what adds to the fun :)

setting off through the farmers field

<3 the mountains
 
Traversing around the crags to reach the summit

We kept our skins on for the descent initally until we were back on the plateau as visibility was down to about 10metres so we didnt want to gain too much speed whilst trying to navigate around the crags.

The descent was awesome! So fast compared to walking. Skiing has got to be the best/only way to tick off munros in winter conditions!

getting the skins off for some downhill fun
J in action on the plateau

Now heres hoping for some cold weather so the snow stops melting!

Janey and Keith

A wintery Ben Macdui

For Keith’s dad’s 60th Birthday back in October we booked a night in the Hilton Coylumbridge to take him and his partner walking for the weekend. It was arranged for 3rd/4th November which turned out to be the start of the winter season. Conditions were awesome – weather couldn’t have been better and the mountains were covered in snow giving a great atmosphere but it wasn’t deep enough to slow down the pace, nor icy enough to require crampons. Perfect for Lorraine’s first munro and first corbett!

Saturday included a gentle stroll up Meall a’ Bhuachaille followed by dinner and wine at the hotel to warm up for our much bigger day up Ben Macdui on Sunday.

As we didnt set off until 10am, and had lots of stops along our way enjoying the views and taking lots of photos, we had to walk the last hour or so in the dark – all adding to John and Lorraine’s winter experience. It wouldn’t be a proper day out in the Cairngorms without a bit of night nav!

Lorraine did awesome – what an achievement reaching the summit of Macdui in winter for your first munro!

If Keith and I are still as fit as John is at 60 we’ll be doing well.

Admiring the beautiful views that the Northern Cairngorms have to offer

John and Lorraine crossing the plateau
Happy faces at the summit!

Janey

MTA