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In the zone on A'chailleach

In the zone on A'chailleach


Postby Michael Thomson » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:44 am

Date walked: 12/11/2011

Time taken: 2.5 hours

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It's typical of me. I have a trip out planned, then the whole thing goes awry on the day.  This one had been in the calendar for a while, so no excuses there, it's not like it was a last minute thing. The plan was that girls would head off to visit their great granny and I'd scoot off to the hills. A seemingly simple plan. I'd even thought about where to go, it would be the Grey Corries for a good long walk. Sorted.

Reality had other ideas. First there was preparing four year old for dancing class, which is like trying to lasso a wild horse and then squeeze it into a leotard.  Then came wrangling everyone out to the car with bags for an overnight stay.  Car seats and kisses and then they were off, but not before I'd agreed to meet them for a quick cuppa after dance class. Once they'd gone I turned my mind to packing. I could of course have done this on Friday night, but as usual I chose to sit with my feet up watching cack on the telly. I really am my own worst enemy.

I hadn't decided if this was going to be an overnighter or not, so I slung everything I could find into the car and headed off, via the library to return some overdue kids books, then stopped for the pre-arranged cuppa. Life was trying quite hard to get in the way of my plans.

A mocha and cheese scone later, I was at last on my way. By the time I hit Tyndrum my stomach reminded me it was lunchtime. A stop at the Green Welly revealed a queue that was as long as James Murdoch's nose, so it was a garage sandwich and back on the road.

By the time I reached the Coe it was after one, and I was burning daylight at a fearsome rate. The Grey Corries were still some way off, and it would mean a lot of night walking. There are occasions where I'm right up for this sort of thing. This was not one of those occasions. Time for plan B.

I rummaged in the boot to get my gear together and stumbled across a copy of Scrambles in Lochaber. A great wee book to have with you, but today I didn't even have to open it. A glance at the front cover and the decision was made. It would be the south face of A'chailleach.

The approach is a series of broken steps, so you can select a fairly rocky route if you fancy it. I was amazed at how warm the rock was. I romped upwards, my head full of things to do tomorrow, what work held for the week, what the kids were up to and a good bit of Radio 4 that I'd listened to on the drive. Yes, I'm that old.

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The sun was trying hard to dip down behind Bidean as I headed upwards, but the pink band of rock near the top was still in direct sunshine. Time to find my inner Ueli Steck and get a move on.

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The noise in my head continued as I reached the base of the pink band. Here the rocky steps gave way to a solid mass of rock, wonderfully warmed by the sun. The difficulty increases a bit, and that's where it happened. The  hubbub of everyday life disappeared. No more plans and preparations and what-ifs. No more need-to-dos or must-remembers. No more remnants of The Now Show and Any Questions.

Time stopped. Suddenly, wonderfully, everything went quiet.  Just me and the rock. I scrambled up the groove, completely in the zone. There was nothing else. I moved slowly and deliberately, savouring the rough warm feel of the rock, the gentle breeze at my back. After an indeterminate time, I topped out and sat for a moment taking in the view. I check my watch. It had taken five minutes to climb that groove. It felt like I'd been somewhere else for an hour.

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I took the time to pick a nice descent line and jogged off downhill, slipping and sliding my way down a damp groove. I was back at the car two and a half hours after I'd left, but it might as well have been days later, I felt like a completely different man.

The drive home revealed the biggest disappointment of the day:  the Real Food Cafe was shut. I pointed the car home.

I'd planned to have a long walk, with an overnighter and taking in a sunrise. In the end I had a short scramble and was home in time for dinner. Typical me.

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Read more on my blog, http://ScottishMountaineer.com.
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Michael Thomson
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Re: In the zone on A'chailleach

Postby Fudgie » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:10 pm

The second picture is the pick of the bunch.
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Re: In the zone on A'chailleach

Postby Michael Thomson » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:52 pm

Thanks, it's my fave too.
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Re: In the zone on A'chailleach

Postby malky_c » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:41 pm

I'm sure the description in the Scrambles in Lochaber book mentions that the cover photo has been cleverly taken to make that part of the route look harder than it is. Your photo makes it look even more difficult!

Good pictures, and a reminder to give this route a go at some point.

cheers for posting :D
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Re: In the zone on A'chailleach

Postby Michael Thomson » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:06 pm

Thanks Malky. If you're just looking for a short couple of hours fun, it's well worth it.
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Michael Thomson
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