Basil Faulty goes walkabout at Lochnagar
by scoob999 » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:28 pm
Munros included on this walk: Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Lochnagar, Tolmount
Date walked: 19/11/2011
Time taken: 24 hours
Distance: 35 km40 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I was going to do the White Mounth munros circuit at Lochnagar
To save myself a long drive I decided to start at Auchallater and cycle the 3 miles to Loch Callater lodge where I would leave the bike, and do the 5 munros in a horseshoe it would mean doubling back on myself, but I wasn’t fussy about that.
I could even do Tom Buidhe and Tolmont if I had enough time I thought.
“not realising how close id come to achieving that”
I set of at 7.30ish with daylight starting to come up.
“Just to let you know I had 3 forms of navigation with me that day”
1 map and compass
2 gps with route preset to follow
3 will get to that later!
As I got closer to the lodge, with tolmont and Coire Loch Kander in view, I remember thinking how beautiful it all looked.
Who said the cairngorms were dull hills!
With the bike padlocked (because the horses looked well dodgy) I set of up Carn an t-Sagairt Mor I was surprised at how well constructed the path was.
I made good progress, some mist was starting to blow through and as I neared the summit I started to come across various pieces of plane wreckage
After a quick stop at the summit I set of for Carn a Choire Boidheach
By now the clag had set in and visibility wasn’t great, but I was on a well worn track, so wasn’t unduly worried
Mistake 1 never trust a track to take where you want to go!
As I approached the cairn at Cac Carn Mor visibility improved greatly as the clag started to break up and I was soon on the summit of Lochnagar
I talked to a couple for a minute then dropped down behind the rocks for a bite to eat where I met a young lad, darren from Aberdeen.
We chatted for a while, he said he’d done 10 or 11 munros I think, and had been sitting there for an hour waiting on the clag to clear.
He seemed a bit uncertain about carrying on, but the skies were opening up so he set of.
I finished my snickers and took a few picks and set of too
Soon caught up with darren on the summit of Carn a Choire Boidheach
Not surprised I missed this in the clag, I probably would’ve missed this on a good day! “is this really a munro”?
I said I would walk round with darren as he still looked a bit uncertain, it would mean doing Carn an t-Sagairt Mor again though. But I would never see anyone stuck
Mistake 2 was it? Not for me, although it would have consequences later on
The rest of the walk went well, over Cairn Bannoch to Broad Cairn although the mist was coming in again for longer, with some sunshine thrown in between
This is where I left darren wished him luck and we went our separate ways
If only I had known what was going to unfold I would’ve went with him and got the bus home!
I only had about an hours daylight left and a long way to go!
This is when things started to go wrong for me!
Doubling back on myself again heading for Cairn Bannoch I decided I never had the energy or the willpower to go back the same way, and after half a mile ish I saw what I thought was the bottom end of Loch Callater
And with light fading fast, I decided to head down and pick up jocks road back to the lodge. Simple! I thought, not too concerned yet about the decision, Only about the fading light
“can you tell where I’ve went wrong”
Loch Callater was actually Loch Esk! And I was heading into a huge bog
I was moving as fast as I could, as the light was disappearing fast and blind panic was setting in. struggling to get going on the divots of grass in between the wet black peat I had to stop to put my head torch on.
Exhausted I decided to have a quick drink and check the map
“yes eventually” with the co-ordinates on the gps “NOOOOH WHAT THE @**#” That’s wrong, it cant be right!
“I should point out that I was using my 3rd navigation device”
SENCE OF DIRECTION
“Jeez how could I be so stupid!”
I had originally planed to pick up jocks road anyway, but further up the glen.
Mistake 3 Research “as in lack off”
Jocks road, a pretty well known track eh? Well defined easy to find and follow. WRONG!!!
I actually walked over it later on and never even seen it
So with my head torch on and sense of direction leading the way I set off again, convinced I was going in the right direction
I should point out if I haven’t made it to obvious so far I was crapping myself and in a state of panic. It was dark, I was lost, and my sense of direction was telling me that my gps arrow was pointing the wrong way, and just to top it all off the clag came in again.
All I wanted now was to be somewhere else, “I hate this hill walking malarkey”! I thought
Walking in clag with a head torch is like driving in fog with full beam on.
I had lost all track of time by now, and decided to call a hill walking friend for help, but couldn’t cause of a crap signal.
So I sent a txt HELP IM LOST not realising I had started a ball rolling that I couldn’t stop.
The next hour or so was a blur wandering around in denial about heading in the wrong direction. Up to my ankles in mud my feet were starting to get wet.
Then something happened! My S O D switched itself off, I checked the map again “OH MAAAAN” I was closer to Glen Doll than my exit! What a monumental idiot.
I calmed myself down and programmed a route to link up with jocks road again and decided to follow it whatever my head was telling me.
Its difficult to put into words how exhausted and disorientated I was, take your worst day on the hills and add bells to it ect “you get the picture”
Soon after that my phone went crazy, I’d hit a good signal. I cant remember how many txts but then the phone rang. I think it was the police at that stage asking if I was ok, did I need help ect
I said “its ok, I’m back on track heading to Loch Callater then onto the lodge “ I said confidently. “but if I get stuck I’ll get in touch” as far as I remember that’s how the conversation went more or less
When the call ended I went to look at the txts and the battery low was flashing. Another dose of choice words echoed through my head and the only one I can repeat here is idiot. I switched the phone of and kept walking
Each step was a struggle and I stuck to the route on the gps, “at last” I was
heading in the right direction “REALLY” well for the moment anyway
Remember I mentioned Tom Buidhe earlier, missed the summit by about 50 feet! didn’t feel like I had almost done another munro. No to be honest it did!
And if I had one of those fancy gps with OS maps I would’ve bagged it on the way past
But I wasn’t thinking like that, in fact I don’t think I was thinking at all, not rationally anyway
Onward I trudged on wondering if this day would ever end
Soon the terrain changed, I was walking downhill, still on track. But the side slope on the hill got very steep. I started to climb down, it was getting rockier now and I could hear water?
I hear you all shouting “STOP YOU FOOL” Thankfully I’m ahead of you on this one lol
I picked up a rock and dropped it over the edge and I heard the dum dums from eastenders! I scrambled back up to safer ground and checked the map.
Phew that was close! I almost started to scramble over the cliffs on Tolmont.
I was roughly 60 metres below the summit of Tolmont so I though if I get up there I might be able to find a track to help get me off. I made my way slowly to the summit where I found the cairn, I never strayed far looking for a track but I couldn’t find one.
There was no doubt in my mind what I had to do next a txt to the MRT
I had walked 20 miles by now, done 7 nearly 8 munros and had been walking since 7.30 am it was now 10.30 so I had been walking for roughly 5 and a half hours in the dark. I was exhausted
MRT phoned me back, and I explained the situation
“do you know where you are” “yes, on the summit of Tolmont” I said. “how do you know that?” “map and gps co-ordinates” I said,
I can just imagine what they said I explained about the battery and they told me to switch it of keep it close to my body and switch it on at 11.30 for 1 minute only, If he had an update he would call me, he then said switch it on every 15 minutes for 1 minute ect
“I might send a helicopter for you” he said
that’s when the enormity of what had happened hit me!!!
You cant imagine what was going through my head. I don’t need a helicopter how am I gonna pay for that? That said, if someone had a piece of paper to sign away everything I own to get me off that hill I would’ve signed it without question.
11.30 came and went, and at 11.45 the phone went
“I’m sending the guys up for you in the land rover, they should be there in an hour or so” “watch out for flares in the east” there direction of approach
My head torch was off and I lay there in the dark sheltered as best as I could from the wind behind the cairn
I heard what I thought was stags nearby…it was actually my stomach rumbling but I was scared and my mind was playing tricks on me
Eventually at about 1.30ish I heard shouting, I shouted back and went to meet them. “am I glad to see you” and “I’m so SORRY” I said
They made sure I was ok, gave me hot cocoa (that stuffs really good) and a bite to eat, and a lightweight down jacket to keep me warm
We still had a mile or two to walk to the landrovers, and that was torture but I was relieved to be in professional hands
One said he’d walk beside me, just in case I fell I think. And I thought who’s going to walk behind me and kick my arse all the way down the hill
We soon made the land rovers and set of back to the MRT HQ in braemar picking my bike up on the way past
Once there we had a look at the map and a wee chat, he explained that they are rescuing more people with a gps now than ever
He then told me they had sat at the head of Loch Callater for two hours with the blue flashing lights on. Remember what I said about starting a ball rolling! I then knew they were never going to go home till they got me out safe and sound.
I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the MRT
and yes, I did make a donation and will continue to do so
To sum up
MISTAKES apart from not dying I think I made them all that day, and to this day for the life of me I cant explain why!
Almost half the hills I done in 2011 were in poor weather with poor visibility
On the plus side I was well equipped (apart from my mind ) and could’ve stayed out all night, although I never felt that way at the time
I have learned my lesson, do I feel
If this story saves one person from making the same mistakes I did then its worth all the embarrassment I have and will continue to suffer
I was lucky, it was the mild weekend before the snow came, or this couldve been a compleatly different story.
I leave you all to draw your own conclusions on my stupidity
by Graeme D » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:47 pm
by mrssanta » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:50 pm
by BoyVertiginous » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:55 pm
Glad you're still around to relate the tale.
You've probably learned more than you realise as yet and I, for one, am grateful to you for sharing.
by pollyh33 » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:27 am
MRT? what can you say- feckin amazing!
by allansmitchell » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:06 am
SOD can be anyones downfall, susans forever pointing the wrong way off hills, hence our purchase of a Satmap that hangs round her neck so she can sneekily check Im taking her the right way
Now your making me think I better pack a sleeping bag incase I get lost...
Glad you ended up safe..
by Eskimo » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:39 am
So easy to let SOD get you into bother. I was positive I was heading south east on Sgulaird a few weeks back only to discover I was heading north west. I kept saying to myself the compass must be wrong only for my more sensible friend to say never trust your SOD lol!
Webtogs prize on its way me thinks!
by MarilynMunro » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:19 am
by ChrisW » Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:04 am
Glad you came out of it in one piece.................. hillwalking gotta love it
by Alastair S » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:31 am
I've only been in a near whiteout with just a compass once and it did take me some time to believe the compass and not my own sense of direction. I then got a GPS with maps (ViewRanger) and the first time I used it was in another near whiteout - it was a piece of cake. Gives you confidence knowing exactly where you are - I always carry map, compass & spare battery but haven't had to use them yet.
by neilmci » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:37 am
by iainwatson » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:02 am
thanks for sharing a very truthfull account of what happened
by kevsbald » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:19 am
by Chrisabelle » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:27 am
So glad you got home eventually and in one piece.
At least now you know you can walk all day when required
Utmost praise for the MRT.