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A Roughburn round in the snow

A Roughburn round in the snow


Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:43 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chaorainn (Glen Spean), Beinn Teallach

Date walked: 04/11/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1180m

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A free weekend day, and I had a rare offer of a very experienced walking partner :D – my friend Pam from student days. Her husband was recovering from some unfeasibly strenuous mountain adventure mysteriously referred to as “The Ohmmm” :? ... I initially took this to be an Alpine version of the Aonach Eagach or something similar, but it’s apparently an acronym for “The Original Mountain Marathon”, so there you go ... it still sounds scary. Anyway, while her other half was easing his aching muscles in a hot bath, Pam was looking for someone to go walking with. She is just as scarily fit as her husband :shock: , and has done more than 100 Munros. I therefore suspected that I’d be in for a bit of a Showing Up, especially since (as ever) I’d come down with the cold just a week before the day on offer :( , and although I was pretty much over it, I still had some “congestion issues” (Scots: “snottery”). However, it was too good an offer to refuse...
Pam’s done all the Munros near Glasgow, so to get two hills she hadn’t done yet, we had to go quite a bit further than I’ve ventured myself to date, all the way to Roughburn to tackle Beinn a’Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach. We set off fairly early and got a good run up the road from Glasgow, so we were parked and ready to set off by 10 a.m. The weather was a bit mixed :? , with some low cloud and snow down to about the 500 metre line by the looks of it, but the forecast was for it to improve as the day went on.
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There was a rather fine-looking pointy hill just down the road to the East – at the time I took this to be a Munro, but in fact after review of the map, I think it must be the Graham Binnein Shuas. A bonny hill, anyway :) .
WR3.jpg

We made fairly quick work of the well-maintained but twisty forestry track up through the big plantation that starts at the car park. A guy sprinted up past us and took a side path off to the left that started at a white pole, presumably a short cut, but we didn’t feel so brave. A bit further on, the track bifurcates and we took the left-hand branch (the right-hand branch carries on towards Beinn a’Chaorainn’s steep and scrambly east ridge, but we didn’t think it was the weather to attempt that :shock: !). As we emerged from the trees, the SW ridge of Beinn a’Chaorainn was now over to our right, with a muddy but obvious path starting at a gate. Being mindful of the limited daylight this time of year, Pam was off like a hare:
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Fortunately it was a relatively gentle ridge, and I was able to keep up not too bad. As we gained height, it started to become obvious that we would soon hit the Clag: even the lower Beinn Teallach across the glen of the Allt a’Chaorainn had its head firmly in the clouds.
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A wee bit higher up, and fantastic views opened up to the south over Loch Treig and the remote hills on its flanks.
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Another 100 metres or so, and we’d hit the snowline.
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There was a surprising amount of rather soft snow, which was good in that it wasn’t too slippery, but made for rather an effortful plod. The Clag really closed in now with an initial flurry of snow, almost a white-out for 5 minutes or so. Pam took this shot of me which makes me look rather more intrepid than I was feeling :lol: :
WR9.JPG

However, the gradient stayed fairly gentle and it was just a slow and steady plod up the SW ridge until we eventually reached the South Top of Beinn a’Chaorainn. Apparently the South Top was listed as the Munro until 1974, and the Centre Top (now the official summit) is only 3 metres higher ... I therefore thought that I’d better take a picture at the South Top cairn, just in case the surveyors change their minds again :? .
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A wee bit more snow-plodding and we were at the Centre Top – Munro #47 for me :D !
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And just to prove that Pam was up there too, here she is:
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At the summit we met a chap on his way back down, who had intended to carry on to Beinn Teallach but decided to call it quits in view of the weather. We considered whether we should do the same, as the soft snow had slowed me down quite a bit and time was getting tight now. However, we thought we might as well keep going down and then see how the time was going when we were down at the bealach. So off we set for Beinn a’Chaorainn’s North Top.
Once again I thanked my lucky stars that I had the Intrepid Pamela along, as the next bit of ridge along to the North Top is quite narrow and prone to cornicing in the winter (people have fallen through), but she made short work of getting us safely straight up the middle with some careful compass bearings :) .
Heading down north-west from the North Top, we quickly came down out of the Clag to be treated to some great views of Beinn Teallach across the glen:
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I was having a wee Julie-Andrews-as-Maria moment to myself (just humour me):
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Down nearer the bottom edge of the snowline, the whole bealach had turned into one giant Slush-Puppy :( . Ah well, at least there were lovely views of Loch Treig again as consolation.
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So, down at the bealach, and it was decision-time. I was making slow work of the snow, and we were getting really marginal for time, but we were both keen to tackle the second hill, particularly as it was only another 300 metres or so of ascent. Pam forewarned me that she would shout at me to keep going if I started to flag, given how tight we were for daylight. So off I plodded, peching and panting up through the snow like a porpoise (do porpoises pant :? ??), with Pam being encouraging as long as I kept moving, and shouting at me to get going again whenever I stopped for a breather. Although this was a tad undignified from my point of view, it was remarkably effective :lol: . However, the last 100 metres or so almost had me beaten, to the extent that she ended up shoving me along with a hand in the small of my back ... until at last, a Cairn came into view! It turned out not actually to be the true Summit Cairn, but that was only 150 metres over to the west across a small dip. I plodded off re-vigorated while Pam took some snaps:
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So, Munro #48 ... not sure if I should really claim this one in view of the Pamela-Assisted Ascent :lol: , but I’m ticking it off anyway! Beinn Teallach, not to be confused with the considerably grander An Teallach, is currently the smallest Munro of all, Number 282 of 282. It’s still a Munro, though :-P .
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We were so glad now that we hadn’t turned back after Beinn a’Chaorainn, as the summit views were amazing. Loch Treig was stealing the show to the south, with the Easainns on its west flank:
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A bit further along, the Grey Corries were looking more like the White Corries:
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And over to the distance in the west were the high peaks of the Nevis Range:
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To the north, there was a grand view over the pleasingly desolate-looking Braeroy Forest, with a wee loch in the foreground (not sure of its name):
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And so off we plodded down Beinn Teallach’s south ridge, back down to the treeline. Fortunately it’s another gentle ridge, and the snow actually helped us down the first few hundred metres or so. Lower down things predictably got pretty squelchy :( , and Pam confessed to something of a horror for Mud, particularly the unpleasant feeling of the squidgy stuff under one’s fingers while unlacing one’s boots at the end of a walk. Next came the Allt a’Chaorainn, which had developed into a fairly substantial stream this far down. Having gotten across this, we arrived at the top corner of the plantation. Pam spotted a white pole marking a muddy wee path off to the right hand side of the forestry track, cutting down the east side of the Allt a’Chaorainn, and worked out that it must be the other end of the short-cut path that we’d seen that guy use at the start of the day. The daylight was starting to fade now, so the prospect of a short cut was just too tempting. Unfortunately, the path soon degenerated into a swampy morass running down a rough forest ride :( ... I momentarily thought that Pamela’s navigational prowess must have deserted her, and I started helpfully reminding her how much she hated Mud :lol: . Thankfully, another couple of hundred metres and we re-joined the forestry track at the second white pole. I’m not convinced that it was much of a short cut, but at least it was time-neutral, and it was certainly something of an Adventure ...
Soon enough we were back at the car, just as the daylight really started to fade. A grand day’s walking – frankly I hadn’t expected quite so much snow this early in November, but it turned Beinn Teallach in particular from a relatively humdrum hill into something quite magical. I’d say this is definitely the time of year to do these two :D .
Last edited by bobble_hat_kenny on Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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bobble_hat_kenny
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby Paula Hubens » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:45 pm

A very enjoyable read bobble_hat_kenny! :D Despite the dark weather your pictures are stunning. Some are quite dramatic, others look very still and lovely with the pale skies. A great mix. 8) You’re nearing number 50 now, any particular hill in mind?
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby audreywaugh » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:22 pm

Thanks for posting Mr Bobble-Hat, enjoyed reading and great photos! Haven't done these two yet, so I'll avoid that shortcut when I do!! :lol:
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:29 am

Paula Hubens wrote:A very enjoyable read bobble_hat_kenny! :D Despite the dark weather your pictures are stunning. Some are quite dramatic, others look very still and lovely with the pale skies. A great mix. 8) You’re nearing number 50 now, any particular hill in mind?

Thanks, Paula! Yes, I'm really hoping to make the big Five-Oh before the end of the year if at all possible, although I'm not really much of a winter walker ... I have my eye on Beinn Eunaich and Beinn a'Chochuill for the last two of 2012 before Christmas Shopping takes over, so if it goes to plan Beinn Eunaich will hopefully be #50 for me :) . It probably all depends on the weather over the next 10 days or so :? !
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby Graeme D » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:17 pm

I enjoyed reading that Kenny. Lots of good info and really nice pics towards the end. As you say, definitely looks like a winter route. I have it (again) penciled in for this winter, as I have for the past couple of winters but never got around to it!
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:17 pm

I heard that these two Munros suffer from "bad weather curse" - a lot of people (including myself) did them in misty, cloudy conditions, or in the rain :lol: :lol: My husband was caught in a snow blizzard on his first ascent of Beinn a’Chaorainn - and it was in mid-July :shock: . You managed to avoid the "curse" somehow. I agree as well they look like a fantastic winter adventure.

We were in Glen Shiel on that very day and hoped for the good weather to push in from the south. It did eventually but by the time it happened we were already half way down the mountain :evil:
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby kevsbald » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:11 pm

Defo good in the snow, Kenny.
Well done.
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:30 pm

kevsbald wrote:Defo good in the snow, Kenny.
Well done.

Thanks! The snow definitely enhanced the experience a lot :D .
Only a mere 234 to go now...
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Re: A Roughburn round in the snow

Postby kevsbald » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:16 pm

This time last year, had you even been in double figures? The 100 will be up next year unless there is an O104 outbreak....
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