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Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Day of woe in Glen Dochart


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:54 pm

Route description: Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil from Glen Dochart

Munros included on this walk: Meall Glas, Sgiath Chuil

Date walked: 28/12/2013

Time taken: 8.35 hours

Distance: 17.9 km

Ascent: 1392m

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Something told me this wasn't going to be the best of days when I was called at 3am by work...when I wasn't on call :(
We had planned to climb Sgiath Chuil and Meall Glas and tag on Beinn nan Imirean, given my new-found attraction to Corbetts. I'd climbed these Munros back in November last year in horrible conditions, including my first experience of being lost in a white-out. So wasn't entirely looking forward to going up them again. Matters weren't helped by the weather on the way up to Crianlarich alternating between high winds and lashing rain. I had thought about climbing them from the north side in Glen Lochay, but avalance reports suggested it would be unsafe to head up the north facing slopes. So Auchessan it was. Parked up at opening for the farm and met a man out walking his dogs who laughed and said we must be mad going up the hills on such a day. I didn't disagree with him. The river Dochart had burst its banks, submerging tree trunks and probably some luckless sheep. Remembering how boggy the terrain was from last time I thought this was going to be fun.

The route up past the plantation was actually better than I had been expecting in terms of flooding and bogs and we met the wee bridge then the dam. Snow was already thickly covering the ground by this time, at about 450m. A brief clearing in the clag gave us some view of the expanse of snow covered slopes ahead. Traversing this was really tough going - soft sticky snow concealing all manner of holes and stream beds that we regularly plunged up to waist level in. From about 700m we moved into clag, the wind started pelting us with snow drift, but at least the snow surface started to become firm enough to hold us. By 800m crampons were required to deal with increasingly frequent patches of icy snow. The wind steadily increased in blast factor making speech difficult, I could feel the windward side of my mouth freezing up.

We pressed on for the summit, which we managed to bypass on the first try, then headed off along northwards to drop down into Lairig a'Churain. I remembered this steep descent from before too and mumping about the loss of so much altitude in one go, knowing it would all have to be regained. I began the descent with crampons still on, then when the snow became softer, stopped to take them off planning to bumslide the rest. Unfortunately, as I was in the process of doing so my camera fell out of my pocket and fired off 200 or so metres down the hillside, disappearing into the whiteness. Hence no pics from this report... That was annoying as it had been a faithful companion on all of my trips this year :( Knowing there was nopoint in trying to search for it when it could have gone in a multitude of directions I sat down glumly to wait for Sick Kid to join me - she hadn't bum slid and hirpled her way slowly down the steep snow. we ate lunch in silence, before setting off across the boggy Lairig towards Beinn Cheathaich. This proved to be exhausting due to the deep snow and my temper was not improved by the continual disappearance down into holes. We slowly began to gain height on the east side of Cheathaich then headed onto the one short north facing slope. The snow was really thick here, visibility was atrocious as we attempted to contour round to the summit. The clag lifted just snough to show a great curling line of cornice about 20 metres above us and the snow we were walking on started to split off into plates...this didn't look good. I scanned around to see if I could make out a safe route round to the summit, but there wasn't, so we speedily retraced our steps and went around on the westward side of the line of ascent, keeping the cornice to our left. The wind was ferocious, making keeping upright a challenge, and the lack of surface features made it difficult to be sure how close we were to the cornice edge - but eventually we got to the top of Cheathaich and, with some relief, set out for Meall Glas. Last time I'd been caught in white-out conditions here and had a brief spell of GPS failure, with no real idea how to read a compass. Same white out conditions this time, but at least I can take and follow a bearing nowadays.

The effort of reaching Meall Glas was considerable as the snow was so thick in places that progress upwards was virtually impossible - at one point I was crawling on knees and outstretched arms just trying to ascend. By this time it was already 15.30h, we weren't even at the second summit and there was no way we had either daylight enough or resolve enough to head over to Imirean. We managed to get to the top of Glas at around 4pm and knew we had a lengthy journey back to the farm. Light was failing, but after a couple of kilometres of descent the route follows a river, which meant that keeping to track by keeping the sound of the river to our left was a big help in the twilight. Finally however, headtorches were required, but by that time we could see distant headlights from the cars on the A85 and knew we just had to keep going ahead. Back at the car at around 17.30 - wet, cold but with a sense of at least having completed the task (barring Imirean, which will need to wait for another day).

We'd planned to camp at the Strathfillan Wigwams and head up Ben More & Stobinien on the sunday...unfortunately I had an accident in the car in very wet driving conditions which necessitated my wee car being recovered to a garage in Killin and a night spent in the Killin Hotel whilst we tried to sort matters out. Whilst we waited to get picked up on the Sunday we had a wander though Killin village. The Falls of Dochart were spectacularly full and gushing, scouring the rocks along the wall. Ben Lawers looked fantastic - clad in a coat of white against a blue sky. Sunshine, visibility, no winds to speak of - after all the recent dismal weather this was a great day for the hills - and we're grounded :roll: Just seemed to be rubbing the misery of the day before in a bit more :cry: Not the best end to a weekend that I've had, really. But no-one was hurt and all going well we'll get back out next weekend - without the dramas :lol:

Image
IMAG0042_BURST002 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby SAVAGEALICE » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:55 pm

sounds awful! ..hate those deep snow holes ...defo make you angry :evil: :evil: ! ..ive taken to the Grahams this winter after plenty of those testing conditions on the bigger hills last year ..great wee hills! :wink: hope your cars ok
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby goth_angel » Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:51 pm

That sounds like an unbelievably tough day. I don't think I would have got out of the car! :shock:

Must admit it made quite nervy reading at times especially with the windslab on hill 2 - glad you got back in one piece.

If you need to stay in Killin again btw, the Coach House hotel/ pub is great.
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby trekker53 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:28 pm

Alistair,

Not a good day to finish the year off. Glad both of you are OK and none the worse for it. A new camera for Xmas then.
I do admire your perseverance though in ploughing on against the odds, I think I would have turned back.
Good luck in getting back in the saddle as they say.
See you both in Inchnadamph.
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby kevsbald » Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:55 am

Well that just sounded like a focher plane of a day.
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:11 pm

kevsbald wrote:Well that just sounded like a focher plane of a day.


Aye, but we all have them from time to time.
The hill experiences don't seem that bad now - even thinking about going back to do Beinn nan Imirean on ne'ersday
What doesn't kill us, and all that :lol:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby ceaser » Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:43 pm

glad I decided to wait till sunday to walk :wink: , did a couple of hills in the gorms on sunday , and they weren't made easy for us due to continually dropping through the snow up to our knees and thighs .....seriously considering purchasing snow shoes :)

well done on sticking that one out :clap:
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:12 pm

ceaser wrote:.....seriously considering purchasing snow shoes :)


That thought was in my mind also
The wee outdoor shop in Killin hires them out, I learned
Might look to buy a pair though.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby ceaser » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:55 pm

weaselmaster wrote:
ceaser wrote:.....seriously considering purchasing snow shoes :)


That thought was in my mind also
The wee outdoor shop in Killin hires them out, I learned
Might look to buy a pair though.


Amazon has them Al ,seen a few tracks on sunday from people that had been wearing them ,was more than a wee bit jealous ,will save a good bit of time and effort :)
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:31 pm

Ach well and back in one piece :D

Have to say I avoid going up on hellish bad days now, just don't enjoy it ,but
I m always glad to read of other folks discomfort :D :D
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby Scotjamie » Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:59 am

As always Al, 10/10 for endurance, fortitude in the face of misfortune (and learning to read a compass). Hope sick kid appreciates your perseverance.
10/10 also for being daft as brushes... :wink:
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Re: Day of woe in Glen Dochart

Postby PeteR » Tue Dec 31, 2013 8:54 pm

I'm getting seriously concerned for you both now..........each of your reports seems to be more extreme than the last :shock:

Gutted for you on the loss of the camera. If that had been me I think I would have cried as I watched it slide into the mist :( But the fact that you managed the two hills in those conditions is commendable. I suspect I would have bailed when the alarm went off, rather than even venture outdoors.

Let's hope we all get some crisp, clear winters days come our way soon, so that we can enjoy the sheer joy of winter walking :D
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