Having gone to great length and expense to install an all-weather cricket pitch at the BA club in Fort William, our club captain pulled the game at 9am this morning because of the weather!
I e-mailed all members of the club to see if anyone wanted to join me in a quick trip via the gondola at Nevis Range and up to Aonach Beag, and typically got one reply - no! I guess the first team deserved a rest day after having clutched defeat from the jaws of victory last week, and the reserves, who I play for, definitely deserved some pub time after having beaten Nairn away.
Having left the tops of the hills around Ballachulish free of cloud, I reckoned I was going to get wet but at least would enjoy some views. Wrong! The three sisters of Ben Nevis, CMD Arete and Aonach Mor were all in cloud at about 800m.
There was a downhill mountain bike event on at Nevis Range, but once out of that maelstrom, I entered the cloud zone and shortly after, the snow. I followed a pair of fox's tracks, probably a vixen and a cub, up the hill and saw the tracks converge on those of an arctic hare. Poor beast! I had seen the head of a ptarmigan bobbing above the rocks as well. More food!
In the lee of the hut at the top of the Summit run, I donned more winter gear as there was a pretty strong wind coming over from the Ben. In rubbish vis and a foot of snow on the broad plateau, I reckoned it would be a good test of my compass skills to hit the Aonach Mor cairn. It is 1km to the cairn from the hut and I came in bang on time and direction. But where the hell was Aonach Beag. I took a bearing to the Bealach and where it flattened out, plotted another course up to AB. At this point however the wind strengthened considerably and it started to snow and I thought better of traversing the narrow ridge up to the top. And I reckoned just in time, as my outward bound footsteps were starting to disappear on my return.
I made it back to the hut, having skirted the steep Chancer ski run entrypoint, which we had ascended a couple of winters ago, and I was chuffed. It was pretty wild up there, but I had had no problems. It was also strangely peaceful, despite the weather. That's what its all about for me.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.