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Bienn a'Chaorainn Carpe Diem

Bienn a'Chaorainn Carpe Diem

Postby Lipeshends » Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:08 am

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chaorainn (Glen Spean)

Date walked: 27/12/2012

Time taken: 6 hours

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Although a 10+ year yuledtide tradition our Xmas yomp has always been ad hoc, arranged at last minute and prone to solstice excess and extreme weather. The loose rules of the tradition meant the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool was often our base for a two-nighter. Sometimes the bunk house and more recently the hotel itself; our enthusiasm for the trip has varied wildly with weather and exogencies. Occasionally a winter epic (An Teallach) or a knock back (Ben More Assynt from Conival) would provide a memorable story, but the rest have merged into a collective grey-out of cold wet struggles and rare glimpses of views.

This year my own circumstances of divorce, recent redundancy, new-business start up and banking-sector unapologetic rebranding of me, from their (honestly without irony) characterisation of themselves (from script) as "responsible lender" perspective, as unsuitable for mortgage, (this despite a 40% deposit and a lucrative contract signed), motivated me much less towards healthy hill activity than to impossibly long sentences and rambling rants against society.

All bankers are ar*****es. No exceptions.

So. With this new upbeat view of life my enthusiasm was lukewarm at best. However tradition is tradition. My chums who dropped out last year were keen to rekindle the flame, but hardly gung ho, committing only to a single night away. Ullapool ruled out. Loch Insh ruled in and Laggan with a couple of ticks undone was my choice.

An early-ish start with Professor Steve picking me up at 7 and Dr Boab soon after in Falkirk followed by a McD stop had us cruising into Roughburn with an hour or more daylight behind us. This almost rules out a two-fer for we fifty-sumthings, but it was still on the cards if the weather stayed good or at least with good viz and decent underfoot. Nae chance.

Now being a bit of a nonconformist anti-establishment type myself I was gratified at how brusquely efficient and neutrally welcoming this road side pit-stop is. The sign says 'Path access to Beinn Teallach and Beinn A'Chaorainn - please park so as to leave free access to the (ungated) track.'

A warning sign says !Deer Culling!

This is so much better than the intimidation attempts and rude unjustified signs (with no legal standing) one finds elsewhere in OUR country. No forelock tugging lacky-in-a-Landy grudgingly condescending to access here. Actually no other soul or creature save one hare was seen all day.

We had actually picked this day as the better of our two possible walking days. Dry at first, winds 19 mph south or south-ish, snow later.

Forecast was spot on. Anyway. The Hill!

Looking SW. We emerged from the gap just visible in centre between strands of the forest. The track goes right through the forest and there is supposed to be a firebreak shortcut on extreme left of this picture but it is overgrown.

Similar direction and zoomed a bit from slightly higher and later in the day on walk out.

Ignore the alleged firebreak in the SMC book. It has long filled in with new growth. It is also only about 100 not 200m from the T junction. We spotted it on the way back but the dog leg it saves is short and the way through would be like walking through a carwash.

Once on the hill, indistinct and various paths converge more purposefully when you have to veer left to turn Meall Clachaig to the west. Above that continue all the way to the ridge. Above the snow line and after my fitter colleagues had clawed back my 300m lead in what seemed like no time, I took to a head down trudge in reasonably crisp snow. This was a mistake because Prof Steve disnae have a PhD in hillcraft. In reducing viz the third summit appears off left with a nice cornice and drags the weary from the (correct) route up the fall line towards what seems like a gentler traverse to your goal.

Normally they just defer to my imperfect but reliable route finding, however on this occasion I was following footsteps and somewhat knackered while Boab who could have zoomed off too was trotting effortlessly behind me. Then his phone went. Steve up ahead had deigned to look back. Eh I think we might be past it.

I dropped on knees looked at map. Aye he's right I said and turned up the fall line to be rewarded with a glimpse of cairn not far off at all. Boab lengthened stride and was there in a minute, myself just behind and poor Steve last with a half mile detour on his CV. Ha.

To be absolutely certain we also traversed south to the first summit just in case that was the top but it wisnae. Then in absolutely classic tradition and worsening visibility we head off without a bearing and soon Boab is beyong hailing distance, glissading on snow and 90 degrees wrong! Much shouting, pointing and finally moving off west convinces him to converge. A glimpse of Meall Clachaig from above - a big non-white lump resets the mental map and we are back on course.

Also on the walk out, this is Dr Bob in the distance heading about 90 degrees off course. Oi Boab - Over there ---->

And finally one of Prof Steve somewhere near the top. Fresh snow covering ice on path (sic) led to many an encounter with the horizontal.

The alleged 3/4km walkout feels like the yellow brick road after a bit. The last photon arrival at the car also part of our tradition, then a quick drive to Kincraig, shower before pint (bliss but hardly tradition) and off to Aviemore which was jumping and we eventually got a table at the buffet in Cairngorm Hotel (good value, unusual dishes and 4* venison casserole)

As hills go, the approach to summit 1 should be rewarded with good views over the steep cliffs east and then a nice high easy traverse to the 3rd summit over the actual top. Whereupon a 2nd Munro can be contemplated. December is however the month when visibility, discretion, valour and above all daylight decide the day. So we didnae do Teallach which remains the last o Laggan I huvnae done.

Happy new year fellow walkers, unless you are bankers in which case get it right up ye ya dobbers.
Mountain Walker
Posts: 25
Joined: Nov 6, 2020

Re: Bienn a'Chaorainn Carpe Diem

Postby rinnes » Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:10 pm

Excellent report, most enjoyable to read and well worth the (almost) 8 year wait ! Glad to hear that no-one fell through the notorious cornices between the summits. Any more trip reports to come ? EDIT: Just noticed your other batch of reports !
Posts: 5
Munros:242   Corbetts:222
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