Just as well we did it again!
by BlackPanther » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:52 pm
Route description: Ben Wyvis, near Garve
Munros included on this walk: Ben Wyvis
Date walked: 24/11/2012
Time taken: 5 hours
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 935m4 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).
We couldn't risk anything too long and tackling, no AnTeallach or South Glen Shiel ridge but I always wanted to re-visit Ben Wyvis in snowy conditions. Originally I climbed it in a "scorchio", +30*C, sweating and swearing, views were nice but all I could think of was water, water water pleeeease!
Kevin calls Wyvis "Just-as-well a mountain", he used it as a training ground: up in two hours, down in one, overtaking people on the ascent, running on the descent. Of course in winter weather we couldn't go nowhere near that sort of time (honestly, I wouldn't fancy a run down the slopes of An Cabar even in summer conditions), but a climb at much slower pace was definitely a welcome idea.
In 2010 we visited the smaller of the two Wyvis brothers, when it was covered in snow, truly a winter wonderland experience (TR here: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10082), since then I hoped for a similar day on the bigger brother and eventually we were given a chance!
We used the traditional approach, from "Ben Wyvis car park" and along the lovely glen of Allt a Bhealaich Mhoir. Not much point getting into the details of the route - it's bluntly obvious, a good path all the way to the bottom of the hill, and the shape of Wyvis dominates the eastern sky. Even if you wanted to get lost, you would struggle
It was a nice, crispy morning. According to the forecast, some cloud could possibly arrive some time later, but at the moment it all looked perfect!
First glimpse of the views:
The path took us to the bottom of Ben Wyvis - if you're climbing the smaller brother, here is the best place to cross the stream. We stayed on the main path up An Cabar:
The first stage of the climb was easy enough. The approach is steep, all right, but the "yellow-brick-road" path avoids all the difficulties. I remembered, the first time I tackled Ben Wyvis, the mountain looked so huuuuge, so enoooormous from below. A true monster! Now, I had a good look at it and well... it seemed... normal. Just a hill. Nothing very special. Just-as-well a mountain. Did Ben Wyvis shrink or did my confidence grow?
It may be just-as-well a climb, but as soon as we reached the first zig-zag on the path, we simply HAD to stop to record the views!!! The Fannichs drew my attention:
Fionn Bheinn also white...
...but the most spectacular shape was definitely the one of An Teallach:
Having enjoyed the panoramas (only a small taste of what was still to come), we moved up the well constructed path:
Higher up, when we reached the freezing level, the path, especially the rocky parts of it, became very icy-slippery. We had to slow down - we had crampons in our rucksacks but on the rocky verglass-covered path they would be of no use anyway. All right, it wasn't so bad... And the atmosphere was really wintry
Panorama to the west:
From about 700m the snow was more dense and walking became easy again - I looked back and noticed cloud arriving slowly from the south, but it was still far away and we had no reason to worry:
One more glimpse towards the smaller bro:
The snowy path:
I pushed quickly up the steepest part of the ascent and eventually ground to a halt about 50m below the top of An Cabar, where the angle eases up. I looked behind me - Kevin was nowhere to be seen. Where did he get lost? There was nowhere to hide...
I busied myself with filming...
...and soon my second half emerged on the slope - he was wearing a red top and he made me think about Santa Claus carrying a big rucksack full of gifts... Christmas is coming!
Kevin decided to have his cookie break without me, he had stopped earlier on and dug up a pack of ginger biscuits... By the time he caught up with me, the pack was almost empty. I got one cookie and an apologetic smile
OK, no cookies but I was ready to strike a pose!
The final ascent to the top was now a formality:
The summit of An Cabar, now all the hard work done:
Looking north, I recognized a familiar shape. Carn Chuinneag, which we climbed 3 weeks ago:
We didn't mess about on the top of An Cabar and marched on towards the true summit of Ben Wyvis. It's basically a flat walk across the plateau, and given the winter wonderland around us, it felt great!
The Fannichs now attracting more cloud:
The wide road to the summit:
The snow was quite deep in places:
I was surprised to see so much haze in the air, usually in winter time it's clear and visibility is much better. On the other hand, the haze created some fascinating, false-sunset colours (photos below were taken at half past twelve!):
Looking back to An Cabar with the big hills of the south on the horizon - my personal favourite photo from the trip:
We reached the summit cairn - there was nowhere to sit with loads of snow everywhere, but I was happy anyway:
The wind picked up so we only had a quick warming sip of tea from the flask and headed back to An Cabar. On the way back we met a group of other walkers - we were obviously not the only winter rambling enthusiasts
Back on the first top:
Little Wyvis and the yellow-orange sky:
Kevin (aka Santa Claus or Ginger Cookie Hoover ) posing on the top of An Cabar:
Descending from An Cabar was a bit slippery again, and the path more icy than earlier, with compact snow on top of it. We were doing OK and just as we were only a few steps away from the safer, lower part of the path, I lost my balance on the icy rock.... Oooooops! Baaaang! I was sitting on my pretty little bottom It wouldn't be much of a problem but for my arm landing on something very hard - for a split second I was scared I had broken a bone or two...
I gathered myself up, with Kevin's help, and examined my forearm. Almost immediately a sore lump started forming in the place where I hit the rock and it hurt like hell. But I could still move my wrist and it didn't seem like the bone was damaged. The pain didn't last too long and by the time we returned to the car I was sure I escaped the worst...
After two days, the bruise is is still nasty but the swelling has gone. Lucky again!
Summing up, a lovely winter adventure. One of the easier Munros and definitely recommended for snowy conditions, even for beginners - just watch your steps on the descent Meow!
by SAVAGEALICE » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:27 pm
by basscadet » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:41 pm
This used to be my local munro - used to exercised on the other side of it when I was in the Cadets.. Never been up when it has been looking as good as that though
by Lenore » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:21 pm
by quoman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:31 pm
by L-Hiking » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:43 pm
by old danensian » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:54 pm
Enticing pics of a hill I must get over to.
by LeithySuburbs » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:11 pm
by HighlandSC » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:43 pm
Brings back nice memories - this was my first Munro (and second/first repeat - did it twice in a row!).
I want to go back in the winter and take in all its tops
by BlackPanther » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:15 pm
Ben Wyvis is so popular, crowded with people, not exactly a hill to do when one's seeking solitude. But a nice walk nevertheless
by ChrisW » Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:41 pm
Lovely hike and great photos of this beautiful hill, hope the arm is feeling better now