Scottish Winter Meets 2016, Onich(MI), and Ullapool (CCC)
I pretty much missed the first one, having arrived in Onich,( fresh from a fine traverse of Ben Cruachan), on Friday, the last night of the MI meet. Also almost managed to miss Keith, Billy and Alex on Ben Cruachan, over a combination of changes of plan, and lack of a phone signal. I caught up with them on the way down. Weather was fine but the snow was soft and tiring.
We had a sociable night in the Inchcree centre, joined by Sandra and Dave and the remaining MI contingent. I was pretty bushed, so decided not to join the other 8 on the ring of Steall on Saturday, which I thought was a bit ambitious anyway, given the conditions. Went to climb Buachaille Etive Beg, my last remaining Munroe in Glencoe, only to realise when I got there, that I climbed it last year. Plan B was to hire a mountain bike at Aonach Mor ( there were none), so it was plan C, coffee and the rugby. Alas! Still, the others were soon blown back to Fort William and a congenial evening had by all.
I thought we had a plan to do Ledge Route on Sunday, but my lack of a deodorant must have kicked in, with most preferring to go somewhere else or stay in bed. Mercifully Sandra took pity on this Johnny no friends, and we had a great day out on this easy*** classic route. Co-incidentally this was the day the young couple disappeared from their tent behind the CIC hut, but we were unaware of the tragedy about to unfold. An added bonus was the lift we got from the top car park back to the Hobbit.
I went on to meet up with eldest son Chris in Aviemore, in the morning, picking up the line manager at Inverness Airport, and staying with my brother Jimmy and Mairi. Had an afternoon walk on the Cat’s Back’ a local hill, and the next day we were joined by Chris, in the aptly named Dufftown, to climb an easy Corbett called Ben Riness. Easy my ****! We had to abandon it in the most extreme wind I have ever experienced .The zip pocket in the top of my rucsac blew open twice, with the contents taking off over the Cairngorms so fast I didn’t see them go. Two hats, goggles, gloves, an iphone bag are missing, presumed lost, (sofar). We crawled off.
Having been entertained to another fine dinner by Mairi, we left for Ullapool and Finbarr.
Wednesday dawned wet, but cleared nicely in the afternoon, so Margaret, Finbarr and self had a trip up Stac Polly in lovely conditions, then we moved around the coast to Gruinard Bay for an early start for Ben Dearg Beg. This is a remote and dramatic peak in Fisherfield with a 3 to 3.5 hour walk in to the base. We left at 8.00 on Thursday, and did the traverse over the 3 summits dropping to the col at the far side by 2.45. It took us to 8.00 PM to get out to the road, with the last two and a half hours in darkness. Epic or what? A great mountain though.
Our late arrival caused some consternation amongst the gathered hoardes of Colmcillers who had arrived at the rented house in Ullapool, as apparently some elderly people were reported on Scottish radio to have got into trouble. I don’t know what all the fuss was about as It couldn’t have been us, as we are not old.
Keith was back, this time with Sam, and at the house, Sandra, Dave, Les, Ivan, Gerry, PJ and Anthony. The weather forecast alas was dire, so while we exhausted young folk took a rest, the others tacked Stac Polly in fairly challenging conditions.
Saturday’s forecast was no better, but a party of six trogged up the valley and climbed a gully in Ben Dearg with chest deep spindrift. There was some discussion as to whether it was Orangeman’s gully or Papist’s Passage, before someone lodged a’ Petition of concern’ a decision could not be made, and the matter was put in abeyance.
The other six, ably led by ‘Keith the snowplough’, conquered another Corbett called something beginning with E.
The weather, being no better on Sunday, I headed South towards home.