On my own today, so time for some Corbetts. Heavy snow in the last couple of days made route selection favour the south-eastern highlands and I thought I'd make it back to Glen Lyon. Plans were to climb Beinn Dearg and Cam Creag, and if time, head down to Pubil and do Meall nan Subh too, maybe camp out and do the remaining two Lyon Corbetts on Sunday or maybe just go home. Up at 5.45 and a look at the traffic cameras - hell there's lots of snow at road level in various places...for a moment I consider turing over and going back to sleep rather than risk driving along Glen Lyon in snow, but that wouldn't be me...
So off I set and the roads are fine, no snow on the roads up to Crianlarich or indeed along Glen Lyon itself. Park at the PC at Innerwick and set off. Today I managed to forget my snowshoes (and oh how I'd miss them), my gaiters, my watch and I also left my walking poles in the car. Numptie.
I decided to go up the forest track to Beinn Dearg and climb it first. By 350m there's a fair bit of snow underfoot, by 500m and coming towards the end of the forest track it's past my ankles - deep and quite crisp. Out of the trees and across the tundra - this is where the fun starts! Snow is mid-calf to mid thigh deep and there's the added excitement of numerous places where it's covered streams - on 3 occasions I fall into a stream bed and am in a 5 foot dep snow hole with water at the bottom of it This is not great! I'm increasingly cautious anywhere I can't see grassy tufts or heather stems to reassure me I won't plunge again. Visibility is poor and I keep a line of fence posts in sight which take me pretty much to the summit cairn, which has a pole sticking out of it like a flag should be flying there. No point in stopping around with no view, so I retrace my footprints. I'm surprised to see just how quickly they are covering over despite the wind only being moderate. Back at the forest track the going is much easier descending, despite the deep snow. I look across to the opposite hillside where I can see the start of the track going up Cam Chreag.
Allt a'Mhuic at the car park
P1000406 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000407 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000409 by 23weasels, on Flickr
New snow on the track
P1000410 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000411 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Probably Carn Gorm in the Invervar circuit
P1000414 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Tundra, with traps
P1000415 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Summit Beinn Dearg
P1000417 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Looking towards track up to Cam Chreag
P1000420 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Down to the Allt a'Mhuic and cross on rocks. Follow the track up past the forest plantation and stop for lunch on a convenient rock, watching a line of deer on Meall nam Maigheach opposite. A group of 3 ladies catch up with me as I'm finishing my coffee. Pressing on I keep to the track and the snow deepens as height is gained. There are a couple of spots where the track turns sharply downward for a section, but otherwise it's just a gradual ascent that would be quite pleasant if not for the effort trquired to trudge through the snow. Not for the first time today i curse my forgetfulness - snowshoes would have been great in this stuff.
Start of the track
P1000421 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Track, further on
P1000423 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Northern tail of Cam Chreag
P1000424 by 23weasels, on Flickr
View up towards Loch Rannoch
P1000425 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000427 by 23weasels, on Flickr
I reach the corrugated steel building where the track stops and head over to the steep looking slopes. A winter bunny pops out of hiding and lollops ahead, pauses, looks at me and hares off into the deep snow. I study the hill ahead. I can see a big line of cornice running across the ascent route I'd planned, I can't see what's to the right of it, but it looks more possible to the left. Hmmm. Getting closer I confirm there's no cornice on the line I've chosen, but there's an awful lot of deep new snow on a steep slope. If my walking buddy was here we'd be turning round and heading back, but she's not, and my tolerance for avalanche risk is a little higher than hers, so I press on up the side of the hill. The snow is over my knees and - at one particularly steep section, up to my waist. I plunge my ice axe in to give some purchase, but it, and my arm disappear up to the elbow under a white blanket. I can only manage 10 steps at a time before resting to get my puff back. Then the slope starts to lessen in steepness and I know I'm heading for the flattish plateau that runs along the top of the hill to the summit. Most of the snow's been blasted off by the wind and under an icy crust I can make out a line of path wending to the cairn. A little later I've made it to the rocky pyramid that marks the top, again no views.
P1000428 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Strange shaped lochan
P1000429 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000430 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Towards summit plateau
P1000431 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000432 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000433 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Looking north - strange shaped lochan again
P1000434 by 23weasels, on Flickr
I have a look at the map. It looks more sensible to head SE to the 754m point then E to Ben Meggernie and down that way. However, I can see the ladies I'd spoken to earlier making their way to the start of the ascent and I know the route back will be easier walking along an already broken trail, so I head back the way I came up, sending showers of small snowballs down the steepest section of the descent as I make a beeline for the building. I say to the others that the ascent section is iffy, but to see what they think and head off back along the outward route. It's been quite a good outing despite the deep snow and generally poor visibility. My back is hurting a bit and I know my legs are going to be complaining after all the lifting through the snowdrifts. I make the car in just over 6 hours and note that my GPS has gone slightly insane, telling me I've been out for over 9 hours and have covered 33km when I know it's 6 hours and 20km. Weird... On the drive out the rain starts - I made it in time today!
A buzzard floats effortlessly across the road, eyeing a red squirrel which just makes it to cover in time. Numerous pheasants line the side of the road, red and imperious, pecking away and staring as I drive past.
P1000436 by 23weasels, on Flickr
P1000438 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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