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Unfit and Roasted in The Mamores
by BobMcBob » Mon May 28, 2012 10:44 pm
Route description: Stob Ban (Mamores) and Mullach nan Coirean
Munros included on this walk: Mullach nan Coirean, Stob Ban (Mamores)
Date walked: 27/05/2012
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 13 km
Ascent: 1155m4 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've always had a problem with heat. One year, at a festival in scorching 30 degree sunshine, I had half a pint of beer and passed out. Strong sunlight leading to severe dehydration has always been my direst enemy, so it may not have been the wisest move that, completely unprepared and on the hottest day of the year so far, I parked up at Polldubh in Glen Nevis to climb two 3000 foot mountains. When I arrived at 9:30am, the thermometer on the van was reading 27 degrees. I donned my sunhat, filled two 1-litre bottles with water, and set out.
Within minutes the sweat was rolling down my arms as the path rose steadily upwards through the gorgeous valley with views of Stob Ban dead ahead. The few scant trees offered no shade and there was not a breath of wind to cool me down. I drank water steadily and plodded on.
The path gained height steadily. The odd breeze tormented me by starting up and then vanishing the moment I removed my rucksack. What was driving me at this point was the thought that higher up it would be cooler and the breeze should be more constant. Looking back, I was already suffering from poor judgement at this point. I was barely halfway up the valley and had already drunk more than half a litre of water. I had to keep stopping and mopping my head. Even my trusty Berghaus sunhat, that has a seemingly unlimited capacity for sweat absorption, had reached its limit and I could taste nothing but salt. Far below in a deep ravine the river beckoned to me, always calling but never reachable down the impossibly steep banks.
I plodded on. A little after halfway towards the bealach I missed a switchback on the path and continued straight ahead, and then to my joy directly ahead was the river, a couple of wonderful pools of clear water and no ravine. I stripped to the waist and plunged my head and shoulders into it. It was marvellous and so refreshing. It refreshed me so much I forgot to conserve my water and finished my first litre. I'd climbed about 1500 feet. And still there was no breeze.
Eventually I reached the bealach. Still no breeze but the views were, despite my exhaustion, pretty marvellous.
Had some lunch here, and some more water then made for the summit. White stuff, is all I can remember. Quartzite, I guess, but the sun was now affecting me quite badly and I wasn't really sure what I was doing any more. I wobbled up the steep slope of white stuff, simply now putting one foot in front of the other, staring at the floor, unable to lift my head towards the beating sun. And suddenly I was on top. And there was... a breeze! How fantastic it felt. And the views over the Mamores were fantasic too.
But then, with some of my faculties restored, I realised I had a problem. About a quarter of a litre of problem. That was all the water I had left and I knew that meant I was in trouble. With my history and in this heat I was going to have to get out of the sun, and fast, or risk migraines, the shakes, nights of sweating, and even passing out on the way down. I knew all to well what dehydration does to me and I began to panic. My only thought now was to get down, so looking at the map I decided that I could go directly down the north ridge. I don't know why I didn't think of going back the way I came and back to the river, but it didn't even occur to me.
Then, as I was going down the slope I met a guy coming up. He had one very small bottle of drink on him. We exchanged the usual hellos, and "a bit hot isn't it?" and then he said
"Yeah, I keep filling up with snow"
"????" I said.
"Fill my water bottle with snow. It melts really fast and gives you a lovely cold drink"
I think that man saved my life. At the foot of the first slope was a large patch of hard, crystalline snow. I dug into it and filled both my bottles until my hands were so cold I couldn't move them. Then I downed several large mouthfuls of delicious, ice-cold, water and felt so much better. In a final move, I slapped a handful of snow on top of my head and put my hat back on. This was a bad move as it melted fast and ran down my neck, the effect not unlike being underneath the most localised hail shower ever to hit the planet, but it cooled me down and brought me back to my senses. I decided now to stay with the original walk and headed off towards Mullach nan Coirean.
White stuff, pink stuff, more white stuff, pink stuff, rocks, green stuff, and then white stuff passed by until I reached the summit of the second munro of the day. I slumped down in the scant shade offered by its enormous cairn and looked back the way I'd come.
Despite the snow I was definitely suffering now. My vision was blurry one minute and clear the next. I had no sensation of time, and I'd even stopped feeling hot even though I was sweating profusely. I looked at the map but it just confused me. Now I really needed to get out of the sun.
The descent for me was simply a non-stop drive to get back to the van and some shade. I remember there was a couple ahead of me and I simply followed them as my legs wobbled underneath me and my head throbbed with heat. I finished all the snow before I reached the woods - it was almost warm by the last few mouthfuls.
Did I enjoy myself? In retrospect yes but at the time I neither enjoyed it nor hated it because for most of it I didn't really know what was going on. It was an experience, and life is made of experiences. I have some photos that tell me I was there but I don't remember where I was when I took that last one.
I had An Teallach lined up to do next, but after that I think I'll do a few smaller ones to build up my fitness first
by Bod » Mon May 28, 2012 11:04 pm
You'll be out there again soon
by PeteR » Mon May 28, 2012 11:39 pm
by martyn » Tue May 29, 2012 8:54 am
by AndyGerrard » Tue May 29, 2012 9:09 am
by BobMcBob » Tue May 29, 2012 11:12 am
I spoke to a guy just now who said that in Glen Coe at noon on Sunday the temperature was 32 degrees in the shade. So we should all give ourselves a pat on the back
by Jonay » Tue May 29, 2012 1:42 pm
Looks like a fantastic walk though - kudos for pushing on.
I need to get myself over to that corner of the country soon - the Cairngorms are getting a bit tedious for me at the moment - need somewhere new to break it up.
by soulminer » Tue May 29, 2012 3:28 pm
It is all too easy to under estimate how much you may need, wiser to take more than necessary- the more you carry the lighter it gets during the day ! Even the forecasts were warning of the danger of dehydration.
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by mrssanta » Tue May 29, 2012 6:03 pm
by JohnJoe » Tue May 29, 2012 8:29 pm
It's always more interesting when things go slightly wrong.
by gammy leg walker » Tue May 29, 2012 9:05 pm
PS,eating snow wont work,it only makes the dehydration worse.
by Alan S » Tue May 29, 2012 9:24 pm
It sounds like you dug out of the same patch of snow that i did that ended up on gammys head check out this report
Well done for pushing on in that heat
by BobMcBob » Tue May 29, 2012 9:33 pm
gammy leg walker wrote:Did the same route as you also on Sun BobMcBob,however we started walking around 4.40am to miss the heat,worked a wee treat,grea day was had.
PS,eating snow wont work,it only makes the dehydration worse.
4.40am? I didn't know there was such a thing. Oh wait, in my twenties that was called 'bedtime'
Thanks for the tip. The guy did tell me to let it melt in the bottle but he didn't say why. I'll make sure I do the same in future.
by Johnny Corbett » Tue May 29, 2012 10:04 pm
Well done on an excellent training regime then going out in the hottest day of the year.
Loved it. Great photos too.