Page 1 of 1

March madness on the Big Buachaille

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:01 pm
by Graeme D
I read Old Danensian's recently posted report on Ben Lui and his comment about belated reports not being frowned upon, which prompted me to submit my own belated report on an eventful day on the Buachaille in late March. I'm all in favour of long, hot sunny days in the hills in summer, but looking at these shots again reminds me that you can't beat a good crisp snow covered winter day.

A group of about a dozen or so work colleagues and some associated other halves decided to spend a couple of nights in that most august of establishments, the Bridge of Orchy Hotel bunkhouse. First up on the Saturday for most of the group was BEM. There had been some talk during the previous few days from some members of the party about going up via Curved Ridge, but given the range of experience levels within the group, in the end it was decided to ascend via the "Tourist Route" up through the Coire na Tulaich.

One of the group was still recovering from some kind of leg injury so she and her partner decided to get dropped off at Kingshouse from where they would walk back to B of O via the WHW. As we drove across the edge of the moor and the Buchaille loomed into view out of the early fog, she asked if she could have my mobile number so she could call me if there were any problems. "No point calling me if YOU have problems" I replied, pointing ahead and off to the left. "I'll be up there!" At which point her partner, a Munro-virgin, enquired whether we were all out of our tiny little minds.

the Buchaille 036.JPG
The Buachaille wearing a sun hat

Ready for the off

The going was straight forward to begin with in the lower reaches of the coire but we could see a group way up ahead appearing to struggle as they approached the cornice on what seemed to be a really treacherous snow face.

Back down to Altnafeadh

.... and up into the Coire na Tulaich

Unfortuneatly from this point until the ridge is reached, there is a distinct lack of pictures taken by anybody in the group as proceedings took a distinctly hairy turn and photography was not uppermost in our minds. Firstly, as we approached the lip of the coire and with every step on the steep, hard packed ice becoming a real effort to dig in and hold on, I became aware of a commotion behind me and turned to see Barry, the least experienced member of our group, hurtling feet first on his stomach back down the slope, whereupon he proceeded to career into another member of the group and somehow end up wedged up to his waist in the snow. At the same time up ahead of me, I could just about make out my wife shouting something to me over the noise of Lucy the dog howling! So as ice axes were put to work behind me in an effort to extract poor Bazza from his predicament, I scrambled up to see what the commotion from the dog was all about. She had somehow got herself stuck up in a crevice off to the side and couldn't get out, so yours truly had to dump pack, poles, axe e.t.c. and scramble up to get her. Now I was stuck and Lucy obviously decided that drastic action was required and so showing little regard for me, she barged past me - almost sending me arse first to join Bazza down below - and leapt back out into the coire, where she proceeded to squat precariosly and do a crap! Now I don't know whether the urge to answer this call of nature was the reason for her getting herself into the crevice in the first place, or whether it was precipitated by events in the crevice, but I do know all about the laws of gravity, and so watched horrified as the poo started to roll and gather pace as it hurtled towards the rescue operation surrounding Bazza further down! Luckily it just grazed them but it seemed to have grown in size - I suddenly imagined a story on Reporting Scotland that evening about a gigantic freak snowball taking out several passing cars on the A82. I must point out at this point that I consider myself to be a responsible dog owner and would never knowingly leave dog poo on the hills, but I would gladly have taken the fine that day rather than go scooping!

Crisis over, our quite stretched out group started one by one to haul themselves over the lip of the coire and onto the ridge. As I sat admiring the views and getting my breath back, I laughed to myself as I imagined how humiliating it would have been if things had really gone pear shaped and a group comprising largely of Perth High School Expedition Leaders had had to be helicoptered off!

the Buchaille 003.JPG
Did we all make it? Someone do a head count!

the Buchaille 004.JPG
view westwards along to Stob na Doire

the Buchaille 008.JPG
view down from Stob Dearg

the Buchaille 011.JPG
Bazza (none the worse) and the Mackster at top of Stob Dearg

After the hair raising stuff at the top of the coire, the rest of the day really was quite uneventful and pedestrian - an ideal opportunity to admire the views, capture them on camera, imagine the first pint in the hotel bar that evening and wonder what Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh would conjure up tomorrow.....

the Buchaille 013.JPG
Does the Mackster realise how close he is to that cornice?

the Buchaille 014.JPG
Along to Stob na Broige

the Buchaille 021.JPG

From Stob na Broige, looking back to Stob Dearg with Blackwater Reservoir in background

Looking from Stob na Broige down to Glen Etive

Lucy takes a break

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Re: March madness on the Big Buachaille

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:47 pm
by kevsbald
Nice report. Had to laugh at the call of canine nature...

Re: March madness on the Big Buachaille

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:43 am
by mountain coward
Upset the neighbours again shrieking at the dog poo incident! :lol: Please tell me you were ascending an icy corrie in crampons though and with ice axes at the ready and not walking poles?!

The pics look great in snow - now I feel like posting a BEM report without snow for comparison! :D I've taken some of the exact same pics but they're green!

Before I did it, I was terrified of the Buachaille as it looked like it would be terrifying - but I found it a really enjoyable day :)

Re: March madness on the Big Buachaille

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:29 am
by Graeme D
I can see mountain coward getting slapped with an ASBO what with all this shrieking - a dubious first for the site? Crampons were strapped on and the ice axe was at the ready, although not every member of the group had them :shock: . It would be good to see the same shots "in green".

Re: March madness on the Big Buachaille

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:40 pm
by Freewheelin
You been polishin' yir magic lantern Graeme?

"back down to Altnafeadh"

"view westwards along to Stob na Doire"

"view down from Stob Dearg"

"Along to Stob na Broige"

"From Stob na Broige, looking back to Stob Dearg with Blackwater Reservoir in background"

"Looking from Stob na Broige down to Glen Etive"

Re: March madness on the Big Buachaille

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:44 pm
by Graeme D
Brilliant! Thanks Freewheelin! Some of these shots look like they were taken from the exact same spot as mine. Just brilliant to see the contrast! :D