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Failure on Creag Mhor/Success on Bynack More!

Failure on Creag Mhor/Success on Bynack More!

Postby malky_c » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:37 pm

Route description: Bynack More from Glenmore

Munros included on this walk: Bynack More

Date walked: 07/02/2010

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 840m

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My plan for today was to climb my first new Corbett of the year. I had decided on Creag Mhor as it was fairly close, and unlikely to be too difficult, even in rubbish weather. The West coast looked sunnier, but I didn't feel I could justify the drive on my own for a short day out. I ahd also planned to come back over Bynack More if the conditions were good.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I left later than intended, and wasn't in Glenmore until 11.20. I had seen the summits of Braeriach and Sgoran Dubh Mhor on the drive in, which gave me some hope for the weather, despite things looking somewhat grey. Part of my plan was to cycle into Bynack Stables, or as close as I could get in order to save time. So I had a bit of a surprise when I discovered that the snow on the track was of such a rubbish consistency that I had to lock the bike up as soon as I got to the Glenmore Lodge road-end! This left me with about 7km of extra walking! At this point I decided that I would have to settle for the one summit.
Snowy track
An Lochan Uaine - how are the fairies going to wash their clothes in that?!

The snow wasn't too bad to walk in, but it definitely slowed me down a bit on the approach to Bynack Stables. It is practically impossible to see where it used to be now, although it has only been gone 5 years or so. I remembered it as a somewhat manky lair which you would have to be fairly desperate to use. A friend rememembers seeing bits of it lying around, shortly after it blew away. The thought it looked like someone had towed it across the bog with their Landrover!
I'm sure there used to be a bothy here!

Anyway, past that, and I started climbing towards Bynack More. As I got higher, what little view there was disappeared. The path itself, a motorway in summer conditions (complete with drainage channels!) was becoming less obvious, with only footprints and ski tracks to follow. At one point, where I could see the ground through the snow, I realised that I had lost the path! All the footprints were leading to Bynack More rather than along the path around it.

I made the decision at this point to carry on to Bynack More first, as I couldn't be bothered going back to find where I had lost the path. I also had a suspicion it would be difficult to follow. Conditions deteriorated. I caught up with a couple of cross country skiiers, who were getting slowed down by the occasional patches of soft snow and heather. After a short while they decided to turn back, as the views were going to be the same wherever they ended up. After leaving them, even on the 800m high plateau to the N of the summit, it was about 85% white-out. I took a bearing, but mainly just used it to confirm that the footprints were going the right way every few minutes. If not for the prints, short sections of this plateau would have been in complete white-out.
Phantom skiiers

Finally I reached the main ascent up the N ridge to the summit. I found myself following ski tracks to the W of the crest, which was getting quite icy. While I had no sense of any drop, bits of snow breaking off seemed to be sliding an awfully long way. Having recently got my axe from my rucksack, I hacked out a small platform and put my crampons on. Better safe than sorry! Shortly after this, the snow started to sound worryingly hollow. I dug a quick hole but the slope seemed stable enough, apart from a thin icy crust. However I was finding it somewhat disconcerting, and with the slope steepening above to the ridge crest, I started worrying about avalanche risk.

Crampons made the going easier, so I decided to brave the steepening and get onto the crest. This was a good move and I wondered why I hadn't tried to get on the crest right at the start. I plodded away, but the summit seemed to take ages, with endless false outcrops. With visibility at about 10m maximum, it was impossible to tell whether there were further bumps. Eventually I seemed to have descended for further than usual, with no sign of going back up again, so I decided the last bump must've been the summit. It looked more like a cairn than the other bumps too, which gave me some hope.
Is this one the summit?
More likely to be this one...

Quick snack, and I got moving back down the same route. By this time it had taken me nearly 3 hours to the summit, so Creag Mhor was out of the question, regardless of whether I could find it or not (I thought it would probably be very awkward to find, with a lot of careful navigation needed to get back around Bynack More, not to mention no footprints to follow!) Some of the snow was annoyingly soft, but the bit of ridge I had skipped round on the way up was of very icy snow, so I was glad I had kept my crampons on. I removed them at the bottom of the ridge and hraded back to the path. The point at which it disappeared was not obvious on the way back either, even though I was just about clear of the cloud here, so I was glad I had not bothered trying to get to Creag Mhor first.
Ooh! a view...looking down into Strathnethy
Stac na h-Iolaire
Don't usually bother with photos of me, but there wasn't much else to take!

Another quick stop, and I plodded back to the bike, finally arriving at the car just as most of the skiiers decided to call it a day! Oh well, good to have something of a whiteout once in a while! Nothing like a bit of navigation practice, although this really only involved following a single bearing, turning round and following the other end of the compass back again...
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Re: Failure on Creag Mhor/Success on Bynack More!

Postby Alan S » Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:45 pm

Thats what i call a whiteout :shock:
Well done getting this done in weather like that
Some of your photos look like the current one in the "wheres the pic" topic :)
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Re: Failure on Creag Mhor/Success on Bynack More!

Postby malky_c » Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:57 pm

Heheh. I would post one of them up in that thread if I hadn't already included it here!
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Re: Failure on Creag Mhor/Success on Bynack More!

Postby kevsbald » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:44 pm

Good stuff - the sense of trepidation comes through.
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