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A scary Ben Wyvis!

A scary Ben Wyvis!


Postby skye2304 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:33 pm

Route description: Ben Wyvis, near Garve

Munros included on this walk: Ben Wyvis

Date walked: 19/12/2009

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 935m

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Planned on an easy weekend around Inverness. Nothing too strenuous, Stretch the legs over Ben Wyvis on Saturday, Re-stretch them on Sunday, over the Cairngorms and then a relaxed drive back to North Yorkshire.. Purfick!

The new car park is roomy (especially at 6am in the morning) which makes a pleasant change from squeezing on the edge of a muddy single track road. Snow was deep on the ground, crisp and fresh.The path from the car park along the Allt a Bhealaich Mhoir is lovely. Easy going and well paved (even under snow).
IMGP1161.JPG
Eary morning, constructed path along the Allt a Bhealaich Mhoir


The zig-zag up to An Caber offers nothing too strenuous for early morning. The threat of snow showers looks ever more likey now - the clouds are gathering. Glad I decided on a straigforward climb for the day.

We hit the plateau top, at least the the GPS said so, visibility down to 10m in the cloud. Concerned as wind picks up. Touch the summit and decide to head straight back to An Cabar (compass bearing and onward).

Didn't take long, wind must be 70-80 mph on our backs. Can't walk,wind taking us off our feet and we slide along. Now the snow starts.. sh**t, visibility must be 3-4m in heavy blizzard.

Everythings white, no horizon, I'm panicking...must stop...take stock of where we are.. damn compass frozen over cant see it, damn water frozen cant drink it, damm slipped on ice, lost eye contact with party. Phew, back again. Not good show to let everyone else see I'm worried...

...breath...Snow stops, wind eases, we're back on the zig-zags. Very frightened.

IMGP1164.JPG
Frozen walker on Ben Wyvis!


I've learned my lessons. Don't be complacent about any mountain climb. Make time to stop, take a deep breath, assess position and most important - don't panic. Last but not least, don't let the navigation snobs put you off a GPS, they can be invaluable - it saved my bacon!

I'll believe the other reports on Ben Wyvis but think I'll save it for the spring.
Oh, the drive back to Yorkshire wasn't much better, heavy snow all the way. Still I felt strangely satisfied on Sunday morning. Pushed the boundaries, got the adrenaline rush, got back safely (by the grace of God) and had a story to tell on Monday morning. Scotland... see you next month.....
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Re: A scary Ben Wyvis!

Postby malky_c » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:38 pm

Looks delightful! Funnily enough, the only time I had my crampons out in 2006 was on the normal route on Ben Wyvis!
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Re: A scary Ben Wyvis!

Postby mountain coward » Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:52 am

I have to say that strong winds are the thing which will keep me away from mountains quickest - was it strong when you set off? (I know it would be stronger on the ridge...)
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Re: A scary Ben Wyvis!

Postby skye2304 » Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:26 am

No winds at the car park. I agree, I always say it's the wind (not rain/snow/ice..) that will make me turn back. I have to say that whilst I am a keen meteorologist and admire the work of mwis.org, the can get it wrong. I have quickly learned not to base my outing on the forecast, but rather to "take it into consideration".

I have missed many a mountain top (by yards in some cases in Skye) because I decided it was too risky and a hasty retreat was the safest option. As a Glenmore instructor said to me "... those decisions mean you will likely be still walking the hills for the next 30 years.."

There's no harm in letting Mother Nature put us in our place. In this case ... she caught me out, well and truely!
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Re: A scary Ben Wyvis!

Postby mountain coward » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:27 am

Well I know how quickly the wind can get up in mountainous areas anyway... I'd agreed to have a crack at Crib Goch (Snowdon) with a friend from our climbing club but said the conditions had to be perfect (as I'm a mountain coward), i.e. dry rock, no wind at all, good viz etc... All looked well as we got up in the morning around 0930. We had breakfast and then, very suddenly, at 1030, a howling gale just sprung into action. There'd been virtually no wind at all and suddenly it was like a jet coming down the narrow valley. That was it then for the day! My friend did the ridge as he is very experienced but he said it was horrific and most people were well down the side - I could see them from the PYG track underneath as I diverted onto that. It was really bad in the corrie where you zig-zag up to the final pull to the summit. I met my friend in the cafe and we went back down the Llanberis track together - at one point we both got blown flat on our backs by a sudden gust!
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Re: A scary Ben Wyvis!

Postby gaffr » Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:31 pm

Similar experience to the poster. There are no easy hills. When going to Wyvis, maybe 30 years ago, I must have stumbled up through a break in the forest much further to the West.....surprised to find the new arrangement recently with car park and fine approach path when I returned for the wee ronnie. After the visit to Little Wyvis I thought that I would return to big Wyvis since I had a bit of time left before darkness. All new stuff from this side up the ridge then wham into the teeth of a fierce N.Westerly that had got up...told myself that I should be able to hang on until the summit.....but hanging on in there does eat up the time! Two kilometers or so later probably wished that I had turned back earlier. Light failing but blown back to the relatively sheltered path back down to the road, without headtorch, in darkness. Never underestimate our wee hills!
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