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Meall nan Tarmachan

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:58 pm
by yokehead

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Me and my 14 year old son, Chaz.

The original plan was to walk the circuit taking in the whole ridge but weather changed this, only the main peak was climbed.

It was raining at the start of the walk, heavy showers so waterproof trousers on. Conditions weren’t too bad overall with cloud coming and going and wind from the north. It took us a bit of time to get ready because this was the first time we had used some of our gear and adjustments were necessary. Other parties were setting off just behind us, around ten people in all.

looking from Killin to Tarmachan before the walk

The quarry track was followed south and the path then taken to the west after around 300m. This path is in good condition and rises steadily, through a gate, then to the south ridge of Tarmachan at around 700m. The wind strength became apparent at around halfway to this point. I needed quite a few rest stops on this first day of our week based at Killin, Chaz was going strong and was very patient! The other parties passed by us, two of them were wearing large ill-fitting waterproofs that covered themselves and their sacks and these were flapping and cracking noisily in the wind.

The path then turned to the north; the way ahead is reasonably steep and dramatic but the path is good and aids decent progress. The snow line was at around 750m but there was not much depth, no more than 2-4 cm and the scenery was very fine in the snow. However the wind was getting stronger all the time and at one point I was blown over by one gust when not prepared for it. At various stages we had to crouch and use our walking poles for support to avoid being blown off our feet, this was worst at the 923m high point just before the summit. It was snowing horizontally; this was being whipped into our faces along with the snow being blown off the mountain. We put goggles on (old skiing goggles brought ‘just in case’ but not expected to be used).

point 923 just under the cloud, looking east along Loch Tay

There is a small descent from the 923m point, over a stile and a wet patch although frozen today, along to the start of the final climb to the summit with about 150m to go. The route now is steep and very enjoyable over rocks with some large steps to make and it passes over a couple of small streams. At the top of this we stopped at a slightly sheltered spot just below the summit. A couple of lads were starting their descent, having also planned to walk the whole ridge but deciding against it due to the wind; ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ was the view for this day. We turned the last rise to the summit and the cairn, into the teeth of the wind and blowing snow, the wind now even stronger. It was hard to stand and we didn’t bother getting a summit photo. We decided to walk on a bit towards Meall Garbh, everyone else was starting their descent having got to the summit and turned around fairly quickly. We tried to find a place out of the wind, we were only partly successful but we did manage to get some hot drinks. I took a few photos, after a few minutes with my gloves off my fingers were so cold they felt like wood and I couldn’t even press the shutter, it took half an hour to get them back to normal. A useful experience of the impact of wind chill, with effective temperature c.-15 deg. according to the mountain weather forecast. Chaz did manage to build a small snowman however!

just below the summit, Chaz with snowman in front

We started to walk back to the cairn, we repeatedly had to stop and brace ourselves against the increasingly strong gusts of maybe 50 mph or more and we were the only fools there. Mad, but it was great! The weather was looking as if it would worsen, dark grey clouds thickening all the time. We got onto the path, descent was a struggle all the way back to around 500m with the wind and blowing snow, at times we walked sideways or backwards to avoid it painfully lashing our faces. As we got lower Chaz declared that the wind on this walk had been a bit perturbing, he hadn’t experienced that sort of strength before! I’d had a taste on a couple of skiing trips years ago so knew what to expect.

Killin gets a bit of sun

looking across to Meall Corranaich, Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers

As we descended so did the cloud, bringing increasing snow then rain as we got to the now-lowering snow line. We discovered that it would have been a good idea to wear gaiters under our waterproof trousers since mud managed to get under the waterproofs, ah well you learn the hard way sometimes! Chaz’s cheeks had been flayed during the day so we dropped into the excellent outdoor shop in Killin where he bought a buff, he found this just the job in the coming days. I had found that my ski hat was too hot so bought a thinner type. A good first day with 5 more still do go this trip!

Re: Meall nan Tarmachan 26 Oct 08

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:35 pm
by Paul Webster
Good report - I really like the rainbow pic. I was on little Ben A'an that day I think - and it was cold enough there!

Re: Meall nan Tarmachan 26 Oct 08

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:32 pm
by yokehead
Hi Paul thanks for the reply, we quickly got used to the cold and were fairly expert by the end of the week!