A horrendous night - the south Loch Laggan 4
by Mountainlove » Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:57 pm
Route description: Beinn a'Chlachair, Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh
Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chlachair, Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Creag Pitridh, Geal Charn
Date walked: 23/08/2014
Time taken: 14 hours
Distance: 35.7 km
Ascent: 2070m17 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I had planned to do the round of 7 Munros, since I completed the Loch Treig 5 a few months ago. I had been so excited to go back to the area and had waited for a sunny weekend to get the best of the weather.
The forecast last weekend had looked great and having packed my gear I stayed Friday night at Roy Bridges campsite and after a long sleep on Saturday morning, I set off at 10am sharp. The sun was shining and even though it was cloudier than I expected, the weather was great.
The start of the walk
Walking along I followed 2 walkers, who had left only a few minutes ahead of me. Shortly into the walk they stopped and when I approached, they said they took the wrong turn. We checked maps and realized that we all had walked too far.
Laughing we turned around and they introduced themselves as Lesley and Daniel. Walking along we shared stories about mountains and far away places and the time was flying by. A short rain shower passed by, but trusting the weather forecast, I knew a dry afternoon and night was forecasted...oh how wrong that forecast was!
Approaching the wee loch
Lesley and Daniel
At the foothill of Creag Pitridh the three of us split up, as I had planned to walk the first round of 3 clockwise. Moving up the grassy hillside was a pleasure and the views were amazing. My 14 kilo backpack didn't slowed me down too much and soon I stood on top of Creag Pitridh. The views down towards the loch and beyond were amazing and in the distance rain showers hugged the mountains. It was all very atmospheric.
On the way up Creag Pitridh
Me at the top
Views from the top
Geal Charn and Beinn a'Chlachair in the distance
Walking down towards Geal Charn another shower caught up with me and soon I was walking through a thick cloud, which was soon burned away by the warm sun. Stopping briefly to chat to another walker, I reached the top of Geal Charn and with it had already reached my target of 182 Munros for this year...100 left to do yeah!
The view from Geal Charn back towards Creag Pitridh
The top of Geal Charn
Rainbow over the cairn
Taking pictures and feeling happy, another shower passed and in the shelter of the large cairn I had some lunch. When the rain stopped I made my way towards Beinn a'Chlachair, but soon the next rain shower was on its way and I was getting slightly annoyed. Where was all the rain coming from? Wasn't it supposed to stop during the afternoon? Checkling my watch it was 14:00h, mmm possibley soon, but the clouds above did not look promising.
The walk towards Beinn a'Chlachair
Beinn a'Chlachair on my walk down
The walk down was easy and at least the rain was behind me. Standing in front of Bealach Leamhain, I looked up the steep rockface. Was that the way up? Not sure I scanned the rocks when I saw 2 walkers on their way down. I started the climb up and even though the rock was wet, it was an easy scramble. On top I met Lesley and Daniel again. Exchanging hellos, we all agreed that the weather was pants and that the weather forecast had been oh so wrong. Waving them good bye, I made my way to the top and luckily the rain stopped for the whole approach.
Looking back towards the previous 2 Munros
Looking across towards the next set of Munros
Standing on top of Beinn a'Chlachair I looked down the valley towards the next set of 4 Munros. Not wanting to loose too much time, I made my way down and the heavens opened yet again. The walk down was a nightmare, after the initial flat surface of the mountain I had to climb down a very steep grassy slope (no fun when it's wet) and had to continue over a boulder field and a grass and heather slope until I reached the bottom. It had rained heavily the whole time and standing soaking wet in front of the burn, I considered just walking through it.
On the walk down
Me rather annoyed
A river to cross
Ready to go
Taking off my gaiters and shoes and hanging everything around my neck, I made the crossing. While I was standing in the middle if the burn, the rain stopped...great! Was that the offering the weather god that waited for? On the other side I dried up and put my shoes back on. Guess what ! With it the rain started yet again.
The hills had been full of rainbows all day, but even they lost their appearance when I climbed up Carn Dearg, sweating and feeling the weight of my backpack. It took me an hour to climb the steep slope and by the time I reached the cairn, the sun lit the hill side in front of me in golden sunlight. It was stunning. Walking along I decided it was time to use the break of rain to search for a camp spot.
Looking down the valley and up Beinn a'Chlachair (to the right)
Don't we all love to walk through this!
One of the many rainbows
The summit of Carn Dearg
The wee loch I have chosen for my camp spot
Climbing down towards Loch an Sgoir I found a flattish spot and put my tent up. It was freezing up here and I had to put my gloves on while I blew up my air bed.
Pulling the plastic bag out of my backpack which held my sleeping bag, I realized the compressed bag was wet. With a sinking feeling in my heart, I pulled out the sleeping bag and realized it was wet. The heavy rain had soaked my backpack and had gotten through the 2 layers my sleeping bag had been inside. Before I had time to think much, the rain started again and all I could do was to throw everything inside my tent and crawl inside.
Changing into into my second pair of trousers and socks (which had been dry inside my dry bag) (Second dry bag for my sleeping bag is on my shopping list ever since) I slipped into the sleeping bag. Not sure if any one of you , had ever had the pleasure of laying in a wet sleeping bag, while the outside temperature was barely above freezing, but within half an hour I was shivering uncontrollable. Minus my rain jacket I was fully dressed, but regardless of what I tried, I could not get warm and stop the shivering. I felt like crying when I thought about the upcoming night and the drop of temperatures which was expected. I could already see my own breath and it was only 8pm.
A decision had to be made! Checking my map I calculated that it was a 3-4h walk back to the car. Staying up a mountain in a wet down sleeping bag, in upcoming minus temperatures, wasn't save. It would be a horrendous walk back, but staying would be madness and a sure case for hypothermia. I climbed out of my tent and started to pack my soaking gear up. With a last look around I made my way down the hill. It was still light enough to see without a head torch and thank god the rain had finally stopped.
I reached the valley below after an hour and with help of my GPS managed to find the faint path in the fading light. The sky reflected itself in the soaking path and wanting to save battery power I walked through the darkness.
A walk through the night
It was slow going and soon it was pitch black. Digging out my heard torch , I continued and the path went from bad to worse. Faint at the start, it was barely there and countless times I stumbled, lost the path or walked into deep puddles of water. The countryside changed into deep bog and walking aimless , I had to climb down peat walls, walk around peat puddles, climb up again and try to find the path. It was the type of place I dread walking along in daylight, but at night with a small beam of light, it is horrendous. When I yet again stepped into a deep hole and felt a pain shooting through my back I stopped. Shining my torch around, all I could see was deep puddles, bog and no path. Checking the GPS, I still had miles to walk and in that rate breaking a leg, or seriously straining my back was a real possibility. I thought long and hard and decided that a cold night in a tent, was indeed better than breaking a leg in an area without any mobile phone reception. With a heavy heart I put my tent up again.
Back in my tent the situation had only improved a tiny bit, as it was a touch warmer than on top of the mountain, so I was only cold and did not shiver anymore. Laying awake in my tent, I tried to will myself to sleep, but a wet and cold sleeping bag isn't doing anything.
(Forget the ice bucket challenge...I challenge everyone to spend a night in a wet sleeping bag in the mountains!)
Dawn was breaking when I finally drifted into sleep, exhausted. I was woken by warm sunshine and the feeling of a wet yet warm sleeping bag....
Checking my time it was 9 am. Peeking out of my tent it was a beautiful morning, but I felt battered and defeated.
The feeling of warmth was so nice, that I stayed inside my tent for ages, having long giving up the thought of climbing the remaining 3 Munros on my list, as I was in no fit stage to even keep my eyes open. Getting up slowly I had a wash and looked around . The area looked pretty horrendous and I wasn't surprised I had such trouble finding my way last night.
My wee tent during the next morning
Thats what I walked through the previous night!
Taking it easy I had breakfast in the sun and slowly started feeling like a normal person again. I packed my gear and started walking towards my car. When I reached the spot marked 'Stepping stones' on the map I looked around. It would be a perfect stop to walk in, pitch the tent and tackle the remaining 3 at some point in the future. With a new plan in my head, I finally hit a half decent path again and 3h after packing my tent finally reached my car....what a night it had been!
The long walk back and another river to cross
Crowberries (you can also eat them)
Me exhausted and tired
The last 5k
by rockhopper » Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:24 pm
only kdding - glad you got back OK and think you deserve to be excused the ice bucket challenge - cheers
by mountain wanderer » Tue Aug 26, 2014 5:46 pm
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by dogplodder » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:07 pm
I was going to ask if it was a do-able way to access Carn Dearg from Loch Laggan side - but I don't camp and have nothing like your stamina so daft question!
by GillC » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:31 pm
Well done your for holding it together and getting out safe, if wet.
by Fife Flyer » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:27 pm
That will be one of those experiences I bet you won't ever repeat
The wet sleeping bag lesson could be a good reason for me not purchasing a tent
by munroman283 » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:36 pm
by AnnieMacD » Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:35 pm
The dreaded peat hags in the dark. I have done that too and it was hell. I actually thought I would have to hunker down for the night (no tent or sleeping bag) and wait for dawn. But I miraculously found a deer path that led me through and I got back to the car at midnight. (It wasn't that I didn't know where I was - it was like being in a maze that I couldn't get out of.) You seem to have had the same issue!
Well done for bouncing back and planning the three hills you missed.
by mgmt! » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:13 pm
- Posts: 540
- Joined: Oct 18, 2010
by Lightfoot2017 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:53 am
Some ace pics as ever.
by razzah » Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:34 pm
by Mountainlove » Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:03 pm
dogplodder: The walk in from Loch Laggan would be 2h one way (flat and easy) Have you thought to take the train to Corrour and do the walk in from there?
GillC: Many thanks Gill...lol I was really close to crying!!
Fife Flyer: God I really hope that this will be one of those one and only times...and you need to purchase a tent...think base camp treks...they are great fun!!
munroman283: Already bought heavy duty rubble bags for gear...dry bag will come as soon as I enter a outdoor shop again
AnnieMacD: Thank you Annie! Peat hags! That was the word...could not think of the proper name. The deer paths are great. Had to think about your previous mentioning of them and like you I feel always glad when I find them.
mgmt! Thank you and you can be sure of that!
Lightfoot2017 @ razzah: Many thanks
by jonny616 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:05 pm
by gammy leg walker » Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:44 pm
by Collaciotach » Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:10 pm