I always look forward to the festive break, a good few days off work and as such more versatility of when to go to the mountains. Usually the weather breaks for a good few days and the choices of mountain days opens up. Thoughts of white peaks and blue skies always enter the mind’s eye view ;)
My last mountain jaunt was spectacular and blues skies and white peaks is exactly what I experienced. Call it karma, balance, Yin and Yang or whatever, but the weather decided to make up for its kindness on my next two mountain trips!!
short film : https://www.facebook.com/steaming.boots.71/videos/465024873686183/
First up we had pencilled in the 20th for a pre Xmas trip. As it turned out the forecast was looking miserable – gales and storm force gusts up high and heavy rain/sleet…. Plans for any climbs were changed for a walk up The Brack. Our route would give us some shelter and not going too high (The summit is about 787m) should ease us from the worst of the weather. I was personally very happy – not only at getting out – but The Brack is the last remaining Corbett for me to walk south and east of Fort Bill. My last hill before damaging my knee was its neighbour Ben Donich, so it seemed a good place to go as a first unclimbed hill post-surgery! Not too much to say about the hike apart from it follows a track through the forest and then strikes rather steeply uphill- a feature that caused much amusement on the return - the saturated, soggy ground and gradient equated to many slips and bum slides down the slopes!!
Buachaille Etive Beag
Short Video - https://www.facebook.com/steaming.boots.71/videos/467071036814900/
Next up was the annual Boxing Day hike. The forecast was looking better for the 27th but neither of us could make that day, so we met up at 0700 hrs near Tyndrum. Plans for broad gully or something similar were decided against due to the large amounts of new, wet snow that had and was continuing to fall. Once again the winds were forecast to be ferocious!! More storm force gusts and this time from an easterly direction. We pondered on Beinn Dorain but eventually decided to see how far up Buachaille Etive Beag we could go. We headed up the Lairig Eilde soon hitting the snow line. We were well sheltered from the strong easterlies here and progress was good through the deep drifts.
As we got higher we could see the spin drift and snow devils whipping their way over the Bealach and down the slopes toward us. It was an impressive if intimidating sight as we knew what was awaiting us at the bealach. As we approached all clothing was added and goggles out. We could hear the wind before the whipping snow devils hit us. As the wind smashed over the col the down drafts were impressive and sudden and we were stopped in our tracks a few times. As we reached the Cairn the winds were fierce but more constant in nature. The snow however was providing good if somewhat painful exfoliation on the small parts of skin still exposed to the gale. Painful “bullets” of snow gave red raw cheeks later !
We found a spot to hunker down and evaluate our position at about 750m and decided to head on a little more before re-evaluating. We were about 200m off the summit (958m). An increase in height saw an increase in wind and the final straw was on a snow field above a gully which was acting as a funnel for the wind. We forced our way across and at a height of about 850m made the decision to descend. A wise one at that. Descent was quick and we found ourselves back at the car for about 10.15. Although we hadn’t reached the top, it was nice being out and about and I think we were about the only people on the hill- had the place to ourselves. 24hrs later I suspect the Glen would have been heaving as blue skies retuned to the Scottish Mountains for a few hours. Writing this we are waiting on Storm Franky touching down, so looks like New Year’s hike maybe similar…
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...