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THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime


Postby coachmacca » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:47 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Ime

Date walked: 02/03/2014

Time taken: 8.5 hours

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So I'm sure we all talk about people out on hills who don't carry maps, or the right gear or whatever.. I've done it but this weekend was both a brilliant hill day but also a reminder of what can happen and the need for strong skills in Scottish Winter..

(this is the same weekend that 9 were "rescued" in Snowdonia for not having even basic winter gear or having a "sore knee")

So my lesson was just how bad a true white-out can be and how challenging that can be at the summit on an 1000m snow covered mountain with crags around and the need to get us out safely when by the time you've done a summit shot you have lost all sight of which way is up and where the way out is.. anyway ..more pics and a little writing to tell the tale.

Needles to say I have already booked onto another nav course...

So Sam and I met up with a mate from Twitterland in the Arrochar car park at 9am - Davie and his amazing four legged usual walking companion - Leo - ready to tackle Beinn Ime as we hadnt yet knocked it off despite having done both Cobbler and Narnain (see a previous epic tale that spriralled into some argy bargy....but that's not for today :roll: )

Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr
Leo decides to play fetch with a tree! :shock:

Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr

Sam and Davie heading up the track towards the Cobbler , the weather was pretty good, even the odd sliver of blue however we knew by about 2pm there would be some snow "showers" so on we push..


Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr

Davie surveying the cracking bit lump of rock that is the Cobbler with Leo running about in the background , weather still holding well and the day was going well so on we push...


Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr

Another gratuitous Cobbler in clouds shot.. picking out possible climbing routes for another day , we could see a couple of boys moving so hoped they were having fun.. but on we push.

The snow was geting thicker as we moved up ast the boulders and along the flabnks of Ben Narnain and on we pushed...
Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr

Davie and Sam wading in...


As we moved past the gate on the Beinn Ime bealach we had some stunning views, a wee biut of sun and even more blue. Leo was loving running about and making the best effort to grad a 4 ft post up to the summit - he's a BIG dog! (and a very happy friendly one I would add :D ). He stopped for a wee pose so I snapped him

Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr


Time was , as it does, ticking on and looking south and east we could see more black than blue and it was clear snow was on its way.. so on we pushed...

Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr
Summit coming into view for a few mins..

Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr
Stunning views away to the west :D

After this really we had few pics.. we pushed up the route, stopping to get the crampons on as the snow turned to icey slab , clouds rolling in and the wind picking up... we pushed on higher and the snow started but the summit was pretty close and we are here to enjoy the conditions that Scottish Winter offers so on we pushed...

One last tricky wee steep step to avoid a banked out we gully (just in case..) and we were on the final summit walk ..
Wee action shot - does my bum look big in these crampons?
Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr

Right time to bring this tale to a head...

We hit the summit guided by Davies good nose for a route, by now the wind was getting pretty ferocious, visibility was getting lower and the snow was getting worse.. quick snap at the summit while Davie too a wee vid to show the conditions before we bugged out back home.. (you can watch that at the end but first I need to finish my tale.. :wink: )

We tuned around to walk out and ... hmmm.. where is the way out? where are our footprints.. where is the world?? Yep we were totally "white roomed"....

We got the map out and roughly took a bearing ... its at this point i recognise my skills are nowhere near good enough and we start to move forward but... the ground is dropping away too fast.. the snow is getting thicker.. were dropping down far too quickly.. STOP!

OK this isn't the route.. but the bearing looks right...

Its OK Davie is sure he knows the way out so we track a but further west but again.. were dropping too fast and its really steep now , and there are crags above us and right... STOP! :shock: :shock:

Tensions are rising... I'm worried that Sam is getting tired and possibly a bit scared.. the conditions are the worst we have been in barring Winter skills Training in the Cairngorms but then we had a Leader to rely on..

I make a call - we are not going the right way. I pick a ledge and we move to it to rest for a minute and think. I remember that you should,always stop,rest, calm and then think so that's its clearer.

I now have my eTrex GPS out.. I can see where we are so I compare to the map and to the crag and pinpoint us. I'm now conscious that I do not have the map skills to get out out without the GPS so its now my best friend...

Only one thing for it... we need to climb up , get back to the high point then walk out . We rise up, steep backed snow and crags.. tired and it goes on but finally we meet the "path" or where it would be in summer according to the GPS.. We check bearings with the map and compass and agree so we now walk slowly out with me in front and the GPS painting a line to walk... :(

At this point I'm sure you will all have something to say.. and rightly so.. but for the next hour I walked slowly on that painted line on the screen.. not a feature in front of me.. white dots playing tricks with my mind and up and down meaningless... I adjusted and adjusted and just hoped the GPS was right... and finally... I knew it was...

Slowly we started to meet iced snow again, it started to gradually drop down and rocks started to re-appear.. we were on South/Southeast bearing and slowly it got us down...

I was never so glad to see rocks and grass.... I now LOVE me etrex20!

It was very tense time.. really a bit scary im happy to admit and for a while while trying to find a start to the exit route I thought "are we gonna be stuck,...are we gonna have to wait out this blizzard... are we gonna have to call MRT?" It wasn't pleasant but I felt I could stay calm and work it out. I may have relied on tech but it got us out. That is that!

And this is how happy we were!
Image
Beinn Ime March 2014 by coachmacca, on Flickr
Sam and I .. happy to be alive!... no.. really. :shock:

From there it was the usual simple walk back to the car, home and a very welcome beer !

Winter Nav is hard. Very hard . I need more skills and I'm going to get them- very soon! and keep practising but that's twice that eTrex has bailed me out. Its worth its weight in gold and ill argue to the death with anyone who says otherwise!

Do I think I have strong winter skills? I think I have some but I have SOOOO much still to learn and that's what I learned on Beinn Ime. :roll:

Here is a great little montage from Davie, wee vid about half way through at the summit tells some of how tough it was..

http://twitpic.com/dx5tsi

Overall still a brilliant day and great experience and - great company with Davie and Leo along !

Than for reading folks .....but stay safe kids! :wink:
Last edited by coachmacca on Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:37 am

Great report & some cracking photos to add to the story :clap:

Having been in a similar position without a GPS, I know exactly how scary things can get.
Bottom line, never underestimate the Scottish hills, even in the summer months they can be dangerous :wink:
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby tweedledog » Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:55 pm

Good stuff - especially the staying calm!
First time I was out with a brand new and not yet trusted GPS (an eTrex Summit around this time in 2002) I got caught in a blizzard on my own. The eTrex got me off the hill safely, though, still mistrustful, I was cross-checking it with map and compass! Got a more flashy one now, but can't part with the old friend who has retired to a drawer :wink: Used properly they are excellent devices.
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby baggervance » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:11 pm

Interesting report, glad you managed to get back safe

Where's the poor dug's gore-tex jacket. On occasions when visibility is poor and I am on the way down I use the 4 legged GPS. The control button is easy ~ "Marley, Home ~ time for dinner" :lol: :lol:

I find GPS and map / compass combo works best. My etrex10 went crazy on Heasgarnich and brought me under the crags but combining map, co-ordinates and fleeting glimpses of ridge outlines seen me back on track

BV
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby coachmacca » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:26 pm

Fife Flyer wrote:Great report & some cracking photos to add to the story :clap:

Having been in a similar position without a GPS, I know exactly how scary things can get.
Bottom line, never underestimate the Scottish hills, even in the summer months they can be dangerous :wink:


Absolutely agree - been clag bound and basically faced the same situation in Summer as well :)


tweedledog wrote: :wink: Used properly they are excellent devices.

Yep and glad to get positive feedback around what i feel sometimes is almost a taboo! :D


baggervance wrote: Where's the poor dug's gore-tex jacket..
:lol: I did ask Davie tis (Leo is his friend) and he says he loves it! Watching him roll about in snow at the summit happy as larry suggest he's right ,,, tbh at one point i watched Leo head ahead of me confidenmtly and though - "he knows where he is going" ! :clap:
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby mgmt! » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:31 am

what a good honest report on what its like while walking in winter. its all a learning curve coachmacca and i wouldn't beat myself up about it as it looks like you got it spot on. the use of map and compass should be your first and foremost way of navigating around the mountains at any time, but having other so called tools in the box is not a taboo thing but something sensible. a gps and an altimeter are always good to aid your navigation on the hills, but a gps should never be your only navigational aid. i think the taboo thing is that most people cant navigate adequately with map and compass and dont want to put the time in to practise, they would rather download the route and walk about looking at a screen, then oogle over how long they walked ,sat down, went up or went down. so well done for being honest, your doing al-right, every day is a learning day.
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby stuart mclovin » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:11 pm

good report, glad you guys got off ok and did the sensible thing of stopping when you know something isn't right. :clap: .

I did Beinn Ime on the 8th Feb and the conditions were abysmal. Blizzards the whole time once I passed the cobbler and the cloud was so low there was zero visibility, needed crampons and ice axe for the summit push and had my goggle snot had a tint I wouldn't have seen any change in the landscape to identify crags. Needless top say there was no one in front or following my route and those that I did pass near the cobbler earlier on (who had turned back from even attempting the cobbler) had told me I had no chance of making it.

I didn't even waste time with a map on the descent, had the GPX route loaded into the Etrex and just kept this on my wrist the whole way back to the fence. Do you have the underlying maps loaded on? there's many sites to get these for free if you don't, definitely something to look into.

would have been nice to get a view from the summit but it wasn't to be that day. :(
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby Longlallies » Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:23 pm

White outs are difficult to deal and it sounds like you were in a tricky situation, props to you for keeping a cool head and dealing with it safely. However, I would say that the conditions could have been worse, and that you must be prepared to deal with the conditions you encountered every time you go out (not just when the forecast suggests the weather might be bad). The worst I've been in was where I couldn't see the texture of the snow at my feet,I was walking up a ridge straight into the sun which was shining through the clag and lighting everything up to bright white, sky and ground. I kept on being very surprised when I looked down and could actually see my feet, everything else was literally blanket white, which resulted in lots of tripping up over banks of snow drifts and such as they were completely invisible. That would have been absolutely horrible had I and several others in the group not already been checking maps constantly, so we knew exactly where we were. Following the compass into the white abyss was disconcerting since I knew I wouldn't know I was off the edge and onto a steep/avalanche aspect slope until it had happened.

You look very well equipped but you really must have solid map reading and compass skills. I think one big problem for lots of people is the impracticality of a big map in a map case, often stored in a rucksack or with one person. What I do is to use digital mapping to print double sided a4 sheets with 1:50000 and 1:25000 maps of the area on, get them laminated and put electrical tape round the edges. They are absolutely bombroof and cheap as chips, I always have one spare in my pack. This means that I can fold the map into quarters and have it in my hand at all times, constantly checking features and contours around me, constantly taking bearings and re-adjusting. That way it's never/rarely a case of the clag coming in and you having to stop and work out where you are, a difficult thing under the pressure of wild weather. This really works well for me and really reduces the stress and such when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Each to their own, though, and I have been accused of being too cautious in the past (yet to get into a situation I didn't feel confident and comfortable dealing with though, including numerous white rooms, the worst being the bright white one mentioned above. Horses for courses I suppose).
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby stuart mclovin » Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:53 pm

all of this could descend into a mass brawl over GPS V Maps but my view is everyone going onto the hills should be able to map read and use a compass. In times where you are in weather where you can't easily identify the lie of the land you are better off using a GPS in terms of speed and accuracy of your position than you are using a map and compass to plot your position.

as far as i'm aware, mountain rescue will use GPS for location as opposed to maps, but perhaps someone on here could advise if I heard wrong? if I'm right however, then it's the case that in severe weather, with almost zero visibility of identifiable features - if it's good enough for them, then GPS is good enough for me with the fall back of a map.

each to their own of course and in fairer weather I would use the map just to keep my skills going, but I think it's a generation thing.
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby Longlallies » Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:12 pm

stuart mclovin wrote:... then GPS is good enough for me with the fall back of a map.

each to their own of course and in fairer weather I would use the map just to keep my skills going, but I think it's a generation thing.



I do carry a basic gps but it's off and in the pack, I only have it as a'get out of jail free card and have never had to use it to actually get out of trouble.

For me the map and compass is primary, my gps is the fall back (but will only give me a grid reference and I don't log routes on it, it's only good for getting a location on a map). I'm not really happy using something that relies on batteries as my primary navigation tool, although I do have spares. It could malfunction, it could get weather in it and throw its toys out the pram. I know these things are unlikely but they are a possibility. I know a number of very competent navigators who do not own a gps device and are happy going out in wild weather with a map and compass alone.

I don't think it's really a question of map/compass vs gps, people will use what works for them, what they are happy and confident using. Both systems have their limitations, the safest way is probably to have and be completely competent using either.
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby coachmacca » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:11 pm

Longlallies wrote:White outs are difficult to deal and it sounds like you were in a tricky situation, props to you for keeping a cool head and dealing with it safely. However, I would say that the conditions could have been worse, and that you must be prepared to deal with the conditions you encountered every time you go out (not just when the forecast suggests the weather might be bad). The worst I've been in was where I couldn't see the texture of the snow at my feet,I was walking up a ridge straight into the sun which was shining through the clag and lighting everything up to bright white, sky and ground. I kept on being very surprised when I looked down and could actually see my feet, everything else was literally blanket white, which resulted in lots of tripping up over banks of snow drifts and such as they were completely invisible. That would have been absolutely horrible had I and several others in the group not already been checking maps constantly, so we knew exactly where we were. Following the compass into the white abyss was disconcerting since I knew I wouldn't know I was off the edge and onto a steep/avalanche aspect slope until it had happened.

You look very well equipped but you really must have solid map reading and compass skills. I think one big problem for lots of people is the impracticality of a big map in a map case, often stored in a rucksack or with one person. What I do is to use digital mapping to print double sided a4 sheets with 1:50000 and 1:25000 maps of the area on, get them laminated and put electrical tape round the edges. They are absolutely bombroof and cheap as chips, I always have one spare in my pack. This means that I can fold the map into quarters and have it in my hand at all times, constantly checking features and contours around me, constantly taking bearings and re-adjusting. That way it's never/rarely a case of the clag coming in and you having to stop and work out where you are, a difficult thing under the pressure of wild weather. This really works well for me and really reduces the stress and such when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Each to their own, though, and I have been accused of being too cautious in the past (yet to get into a situation I didn't feel confident and comfortable dealing with though, including numerous white rooms, the worst being the bright white one mentioned above. Horses for courses I suppose).



These are great practical idea's - the checking as we go approach is something we dont do (yet i know we should)!

Nav is now top of my skills needed list....
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby coachmacca » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:51 pm

mgmt! wrote:what a good honest report on what its like while walking in winter. its all a learning curve coachmacca and i wouldn't beat myself up about it as it looks like you got it spot on. the use of map and compass should be your first and foremost way of navigating around the mountains at any time, but having other so called tools in the box is not a taboo thing but something sensible. a gps and an altimeter are always good to aid your navigation on the hills, but a gps should never be your only navigational aid. i think the taboo thing is that most people cant navigate adequately with map and compass and dont want to put the time in to practise, they would rather download the route and walk about looking at a screen, then oogle over how long they walked ,sat down, went up or went down. so well done for being honest, your doing al-right, every day is a learning day.



Cheers - my mantra has always been every day's a training day and I'll never stop saying it! :lol:
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby tony.cee » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:53 pm

A friend and I had a similar issue the other day while attempting to climb beinn bhrotain, having walk in from linn of day on a very calm day, by the time we reached Carn cloich mhuilin the conditions were awful, we both looked at the map and agreed where we were, or so we thought we were, took out the gps and in fact we were quite abit away from where we thought we were. Him being ex foreign legion and having good nav skills and mine being enough to get me by, we were caught out, the Moral of the story being that in awful conditions and in a near white out, judgment becomes blurry at best. We decided to go no further and made our way back the way we came. Disappointing driving out and walking in, but the hill will be there tomorrow, and the next day. Great report btw.
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby BigT » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:03 pm

Seemed like you done the right thing...you could not micro-navigate so you took a fix off the GPS and corrected from that point. The thing I'm most impressed with is you seem to have photographed Ime from just about every direction :lol: I'd call that the scenic route. The photo of the summit makes you look like you were quite far east at about 850m maybe on the way up?

It's a narrow(ish) corridor off to the NW once you are at 900, I'd imagine that SE bearing in reverse could be tricky with no fix on east face.

Overshoot to the south and it's going to get steep, overshoot to east and its going to get vertical. When I was up I followed the eastern face on that SE bearing and skipped the first top to get back to big wide slope back to the gate. Beautiful day mind :lol:

Image

As you an see with zero visibility the consequences of going too far east don't bear thinking about.
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Re: THe White Room .... on Beinn Ime

Postby tomyboy73 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:30 pm

:clap: well done on getting on with it and getting out, sometimes when you`re writing/reading reports about when things get a bit hairy, most of the stories end up with a happy ending based on walkers relying/trusting, if a bit anxious at the time, their map skills,intuition or faith in gps. use both i say if you can. :)
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