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While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain


Postby laconic surf » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:46 pm

Route description: Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Tulaichean, Cruach Ardrain

Date walked: 14/01/2013

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1178m

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Having seen JwRamsay's report on the conditions on Beinn Chabhair it became obvious that some serious amount of snow had fallen in this part of the world on sunday night, so Balgonie and I met up at the Kings House, Balquidder to drive down the wee road to Inverlochlarig together. Knowing this was a minor, untreated road we expected some dodgy ice and snow patches and we got it :lol:
With the exception of a couple of minor skids and slides we made it in one piece to the car park. We were the only ones here, as it remained for the rest of the day. Kitted up, we set off at 8.30am, over the rickety wooden bridge and through the still boggy patch beside the farm.
We were treated with some lovely early morning views of the surrounding mountains.

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View South



There was quite heavy snow on the sides of this steep mountain, but at the lower levels nothing too problematic, it was just a case of getting into a rhythm and enjoying the morning sunshine. After our last walk that consisted of a 5 hour drenching in Drumochter the week before, this was a welcome change.

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Aye, that way!

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A breather in the shadow of Stob Binnein

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Bad boy icicles


At about the 400m spot height the ground conditions began to change. The snow was much deeper but with absolutely no compaction and on the very steep slopes it simply slid beneath our feet and made the going very slow and tiring on the legs. On the very steep bits it was virtually impossible to gain any grip at all. Spikes were donned in the hope of providing some sort of traction but they were useless in thick powder, they simply sunk to the wet grass a foot or so below where they just skidded. A times it was two steps forward, one step back. At this point I started swinging the pick of the axe ahead of me hard through the powder and embedded it in the turf below, then when it was secure I pulled myself up via the shaft. Unconventional, tiring and not what the axe was meant for but it worked :lol:
Then the wind picked up speed, snow was blown into the face so glasses were put on. Head down axe swinging, I felt like a coal miner on the wrong side of the rock face :shock:

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The wind is a-blowing

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climbing up in the blizzard

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view down Loch Voil


At this point we were just below the crags and it was a case of assessing which way to go. The GPS with the WH route suggested turn to the left and a wide approach to the top. We could do this or just go direct and tough it out. No contest, we were having too much fun despite how tiring it was. Straight up we go :crazy:
Balgonie is super fit and as this was his first climb in Loch Lomond was loving the conditions and the change from the Cairngorms plateau and was off. My knees, arthritic and knackered from years of rugby were screaming but I just kept swinging that axe, dug in and headed for the top.

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pick a point of attack

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Summit in sight


As we reached the final bit of ascent, the conditions made it difficult to see which way to go, large rocks were snow covered and it was difficult to see if there was any drops or crevices beneath our feet so we tentively climbed over them testing the ground in front for firmness. We had taken a slight wrong turn but could see the summit ahead but it was blocked by a huge snow drift covered slope. With a scramble and axes implanted we eventually managed to get over it and our reward at the top waited. A tough ascent and the top was gladly reached. A chance to rest and refuel.
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Topped out on Tulaichean

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Balgonie on Tulaichean

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Rested, we began the assault on Cruach Ardrain. This is likely to be clearly defined ridge in good conditions, but up there in the heavy snow it was difficult to judge which was best route of ascent, we just ploughed on in the right direction, with each of us taking a sudden tumble as we slid or tripped on a snow hidden rock.
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The "ridge" ahead to Ardrain


Several sections were excruciatingly steep and twice I had to arrest as I slid down as the snow collapsed beneath my feet. On one section the ground gave way and I slid about 30 metres, swearing at the reascent I would have to do. The mind was taken off the climb when we encountered this dodgy looking fellow. I wasn't sure if I was hallucinating with tiredness but Balgonie's photo proved he was there:

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The evil snowman of Ardrain

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On reaching the top I was worn out and half-jokingly ordered my climbing partner to send for the helicopter as I refused to move another inch :lol:

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Balgonie summits Cruach Ardrain

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Made it!


A quick refuel, the customary summit shots and it was time to head out of the wind and back to the bealach to begin the descent.

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back to bealach

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Down here for home


Descending was a mixture of tumbling and glissading (both voluntary and enforced :lol: ) before we finally hit the landrover track and could begin the trudge back to the car. This circuit is probably a breeze in summer and fairly good going once ice has formed but in sheer powder it was a tough climb. Yet, we both walked back as dusk began to fall with huge grins on our faces. This is what winter climbing in Scotland is all about :D


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laconic surf
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby denfinella » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:37 pm

That snowman-face is terrifying!
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby colingray8 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:01 pm

Looks hard work but loads o fun!!

laconic surf wrote:The mind was taken off the climb when we encountered this dodgy looking fellow.

I would have sh1t-a-brick!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Fantastic photo's.
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby morag1 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:53 pm

well done Laconic, getting closer to the magic 50 :clap:

One of these days I'll log on to the website and find you doing nothing more than strolling gently up to the summit of some Munro - ha ha that'll be the day :lol:
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby balgonie » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:57 pm

great report laconic surf :clap: and a great days climbing, :D

i'd also like to say a 'thankyou' to the couple in the 4x4 that pulled over on the untreated road as we headed away from inverlochlarig farm to let us both pass. laconic surf sailed up the hill with ease in his 4x4 as for myself in my Berlingo, after 3 failed attempts :thumbdown: and one super long run up :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: skidding and sliding side to side i finally made it :clap: so to that couple 'a big thankyou for your patience'
the will for me to succeed was written all over their faces :thumbup: the driver of the 4x4 was rocking back and forth in his seat in an attempt to aid my success :clap: and that alone top of what i considered a fantastic day out climbing :lol:
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby balgonie » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:06 pm

denfinella wrote:That snowman-face is terrifying!

colingray8 wrote:Looks hard work but loads o fun!!

laconic surf wrote:The mind was taken off the climb when we encountered this dodgy looking fellow.

I would have sh1t-a-brick!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Fantastic photo's.


i considering my mountain version of snowman as one of my best pieces :lol:
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby laconic surf » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:40 pm

denfinella wrote:That snowman-face is terrifying!
colingray8 wrote:Looks hard work but loads o fun!!

laconic surf wrote:The mind was taken off the climb when we encountered this dodgy looking fellow.

I would have sh1t-a-brick!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Fantastic photo's.


Thanks, It was a tough day but well rewarded. Re the snowman: I think my climbing partner was having a laugh while I was busy sliding down the slope :wink: :lol:

morag1 wrote:well done Laconic, getting closer to the magic 50 :clap:

One of these days I'll log on to the website and find you doing nothing more than strolling gently up to the summit of some Munro - ha ha that'll be the day :lol:


Yeah, not too far to go now. What with the mild January i've done more than I otherwise would have expected.
Aye, one day i'm sure i'll find a straight forward ascent some sunny day, but like you, I doubt it :lol:
Thanks Morag
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby laconic surf » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:42 pm

balgonie wrote:great report laconic surf :clap: and a great days climbing, :D

i'd also like to say a 'thankyou' to the couple in the 4x4 that pulled over on the untreated road as we headed away from inverlochlarig farm to let us both pass. laconic surf sailed up the hill with ease in his 4x4 as for myself in my Berlingo, after 3 failed attempts :thumbdown: and one super long run up :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: :arrow: skidding and sliding side to side i finally made it :clap: so to that couple 'a big thankyou for your patience'
the will for me to succeed was written all over their faces :thumbup: the driver of the 4x4 was rocking back and forth in his seat in an attempt to aid my success :clap: and that alone top of what i considered a fantastic day out climbing :lol:


:lol: :lol: Thought you were taking your time up that wee road, I didn't realise the rally driving drama that was going on behind me. Next time i'll give you a tow :wink:
Great day mate, cheers
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby Peter913 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:35 pm

Nice dramatic images there and there bad boy icicles as you say :crazy: :crazy:


I was out with Jim and time was against us plus the conditions

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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby LeithySuburbs » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:41 pm

Nice report LS 8) . Not sure there is anything more tiring than snow like that :? .
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby simon-b » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:32 pm

A great effort, LS. That looked and sounded like hard work, but the stunning winter scenery must have made it worthwhile.
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby KeithS » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:39 pm

Great stuff there Luc. Looks like you had a fun day, but hard work. It's amazing how the conditions can affect a walk. That is part of the beauty of our hobby, no two walks are ever the same, even if the route is.

Well done on a good day out and an excellent report.

Not long till April. :D

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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby Steven001 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:15 pm

Excellent report coupled with some beautiful photographs; It made me jealous reading your report!

I'd love to get back out in the snow, but I lack the skills to do it on my own :(
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby jwramsay » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:14 am

Super report - tough conditions, just like we had on Sunday up Beinn Chabair.

You didn't bump into Paul the irishman who was wild camping in that area?
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Re: While My Axe Gently Weeps: Tulaichean & Ardrain

Postby laconic surf » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:28 am

LeithySuburbs wrote:Nice report LS 8) . Not sure there is anything more tiring than snow like that :? .


Cheers Dougie. Aye, I could barely walk the next day :shock:


simon-b wrote:A great effort, LS. That looked and sounded like hard work, but the stunning winter scenery must have made it worthwhile.


Thanks Simon, you can get through tough climbs like that when the weather gods are playing ball. By the time we reached the top the view was gone but for the ascent and descent it was stunning 8)


KeithS wrote:Great stuff there Luc. Looks like you had a fun day, but hard work. It's amazing how the conditions can affect a walk. That is part of the beauty of our hobby, no two walks are ever the same, even if the route is.

Well done on a good day out and an excellent report.

Not long till April. :D

Keith


The thing was having battled through the first soft snow of the season last month, it all goes and melts, refalls and its back to square one :lol: Totally worth it though.
Wonder what conditions we'll get in Torridon? (Sore heads will likely be one :lol: )


Steven001 wrote:Excellent report coupled with some beautiful photographs; It made me jealous reading your report!

I'd love to get back out in the snow, but I lack the skills to do it on my own :(


Thanks Steven. It was great to be out on a day like that. If you've reasonable summer experience, your more than welcome to come out with us if you like. Until the ice starts to form I think we'll stick to an "easy" single. Only thing is a we both find it hard to get out on the weekends due to work/family commitments so we tend to head out on Mondays or Tuesdays.

Peter913 wrote:Nice dramatic images there and there bad boy icicles as you say :crazy: :crazy:


I was out with Jim and time was against us plus the conditions

Peter


jwramsay wrote:Super report - tough conditions, just like we had on Sunday up Beinn Chabair.

You didn't bump into Paul the irishman who was wild camping in that area?


Yeah, thanks for your report guys. I always think reports are even more important at this time of year so folk can get an idea of the ground conditions before heading out themselves. Though often this time of year the approach roads can be the obstacle rather than the hill itself :?
No sign of the Irishman. We were the only folk around that we could see.
Cheers
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