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Beinn Odhar - summit or not...?

Beinn Odhar - summit or not...?


Postby FiferStu » Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:06 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Odhar

Date walked: 12/04/2013

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 700m

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Left Glengarry guesthouse well aware that cloud cover would mean reduced visibility on the upper slopes of my target for the day - the Corbett, Beinn Odhar. The intention was to scale the hill then follow the fine ridge south, taking in the smaller peak of Meall Buidhe and head back to Glengarry that way. However, the best laid plans...

Following the West Highland Way north out of Tyndrum, as I so often have, I soon had a view of Beinn Odhar, with the summit indeed clagged by low cloud. However, I didn’t see this as too much of a problem - I would just keep to the highest ground and thereby make the summit.

I’d decided, for the first time in many years, to try out walking poles today, as I recalled the steep, rough, wet slopes of this hill from last autumn. Walking poles, I reckoned, would ease the going across the rough terrain. But, just as I remember my experience with my brief trial with a single walking pole from the late 1990s, the poles seemed more of a hindrance than a help. As I struck out onto the hill from the WHW, the ground was steep, rocky and uneven, and the poles just seemed to get in the way. Try as I might, I just couldn’t develop any walking rhythm with them - the ground, as I said, was very uneven, with varying levels of steepness - and, oddly enough, I didn’t have much confidence in the poles in the event of a fall. No, I wanted two hands free, thank you very much, and it wasn’t too long before the poles were once again out of my hands and attached to the rucksack. They just weren’t for me.

Image
Odhar-Buidhe ridge in cloud

Even without the poles, it was a stiff climb, but not nearly so tiring as it had been last autumn in the wet. I made good but steady progress to about the 700m mark, which is where the cloud cover started. The trackless terrain gave me no marker to follow, and as I headed further up the slopes, visibility reduced pretty quickly. Snow was now the order of the day all around, but still I reckoned that by just continuing to head up, I’d make the summit. Eventually there was no way up - only down in all directions. Which meant, surely, that I’d made it? But I could see no cairn or anything else marking the summit - in every direction I tried, the way was down. I was lost, it seemed. Annoyingly, embarrassingly, I was lost :oops:

I wandered hopefully in different directions, but to no avail. Visibility was very low, and this was all a reminder to me of how easy it is to lose your sense of direction in poor visibility on pretty much featureless ground.

Image
Upper slopes of Beinn Odhar

A check of the map revealed that my only hope of finding the correct way down again was the A82 road to the west of the hill. If I could just hear the odd passing car on the road way, way below me, I’d have my reference point. After another five minutes of hopeful wandering… I heard what I wanted to hear. Somewhere to my right, some 900m below me, I could just pick out the sound of a passing vehicle. Relief. I headed down the slopes to the south, and eventually regained visibility. I now knew where I was for sure. Relief indeed!

I decided, surely sensibly, to forgo the full ridge walk back to Glengarry, and concentrate instead on a safe descent of Beinn Odhar. That I did, and made the foot of the hill after another hour or so.

Later that evening, as I reflected on the walk, I couldn’t help deciding that I had indeed reached the summit of Beinn Odhar without realising it. I reckon logic must tell you that if the only way is down in all directions, you must be at the top... mustn't you?
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FiferStu
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 37
Munros:36   Corbetts:14
Grahams:15   Donalds:28
Sub 2000:10   
Joined: Sep 10, 2010
Location: Fife

Re: Beinn Odhar - summit or not...?

Postby jmarkb » Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:52 am

There is a fairly substantial cairn on the summit: guess you might have walked all round it?
http://www.kevinwoods.co.uk/all-mountains/20100825auch/pics/05.htm
jmarkb
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Posts: 4130
Munros:241   Corbetts:94
Grahams:78   Donalds:29
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Re: Beinn Odhar - summit or not...?

Postby FiferStu » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:13 pm

Thanks for that, jmarkb. You're probably right, I must have walked around it. Anyway, as far as ticking off Beinn Odhar goes, I made absolutely sure on a lovely clear day last month. Some pics and TR to follow.
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FiferStu
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 37
Munros:36   Corbetts:14
Grahams:15   Donalds:28
Sub 2000:10   
Joined: Sep 10, 2010
Location: Fife

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