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Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:14 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn nan Oighreag, Meall nam Maigheach

Date walked: 14/12/2014

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 28.3 km

Ascent: 1634m

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Another challenging weekend from the weather point of view - snow gates closed up in the Cairngorms, big winds and wet out west. Decided to head centrally this weekend, taking on a pair of Corbetts from Bridge of Balgie on Saturday and heading further east for Beinn a'Chuallich on Sunday. Well - that was the plan :wink:

Managed to get away from work reasonably early on Friday afternoon and spent a cautious 3 hours driving the 100 miles to Bridge of Balgie, much of it along snowy roads. Police were pulling in the traffic at Tarbet, presumably to breathalyse any dodgy individuals. I had in mind to stop off at the parking spot at Innerwick and spend the night there. Arriving at 7.30 on a very dark and icy night, I grimaced when I saw the "No Overnight Camping" sign at the car park. There really wasn't much in the way of options and deciding the sign was intended to dissuade hordes of travelling folk from holing up there in the summer and that probably no one would mind two mental climbers pitching on 6 inches of snow in the middle of winter, we made the best of it. A cold night indeed - stars shining brilliantly through the forest. Up early next morning, the road like a sheet of glass I decided we'd just walk to Bridge of Balgie rather than drive there. In kinder climes one can just drive down the narrow single track to Lochan na Lairige and nip up both hills, but not today :lol:

"Campsite"
ImageP1050016 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Road to Bridge of Balgie
ImageP1050018 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050020 by 23weasels, on Flickr

On the wee road, Beinn Dearg behind
ImageP1050021 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Wee road
ImageP1050022 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Maighreagh
ImageP1050024 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The road made for easy walking, with a crisp cover of snow. Sheep watched us go by, or ran off in a mild panic. I was preoccupied with the route to Beinn nan Oighreag. The avalanche forecast had posted "considerable hazard" with slopes from N-SE being loaded. Meall na Maigheach was fine as we'd ascend from the SW, but to get to Oighreag meant traipsing over thickly snow covered ground and climbing up steepish east facing slopes. Hmmm.
After reaching the second parking area on the road there's no more gritting and the tyre tracks diminish and stop. We could see large herds of deer in the glen below. Up to our left the wind has whipped much of the snow cover away and it seems reasonable to just head up the slopes to Meall na Maigheach rather than walk another couple of km to the southernmost point before ascending. There are some deep drifts but it's reasonably easy to find areas of lighter cover and progress is made towards the summit. The wind rises and the air becomes chill as we near the top, with the snow starting to crust over. We visit the westernmost cairn of Meall Luaidhe first (776m) then head over to the cairn on Maigheach (779m). Visibility isn't great - I can just make out the lower slopes of the Invervar Munros, with Beinn Dearg before them. To the south is a good view of the Lochan na Lairige guarded by Creag an Lochan. I can't really work out where Oighreag is positioned, but I do see there's the bulk of Meal Glas before it with a descent to Lairig Bhreislich to be negotiated if we are heading that way later...hmmm

Deer
ImageP1050026 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Meal Glas
ImageP1050027 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Uphill to Meall Luaidhe
ImageP1050030 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Lochan na Lairige in background
ImageP1050032 by 23weasels, on Flickr

One of the deeper snow sections
ImageP1050033 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Invervar Munros from Meall Luaidhe
ImageP1050035 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View south
ImageP1050036 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Maighreagh cairn
ImageP1050037 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050039 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We head west off the hill and reach the road, startling a group of sheep out of their hidey-hole where they've been avoiding the icy blasts. A pair of raven soar noiselessly by. Decision time as we stop for lunch. It's 12.30 and we've got 3.5 hours of light left. Without the snow factor slowing us down would be easy enough. I cast around for alternate routes that cut the avalanche risk, but other than going back up north almost to the start of the route and heading up Creag Dhubh (which still doesn't remove the risk) it doesn't look good. Damn! We decide to head back to the car and take stock of our options. I remember that the WH route for Oighreag does it from the south, from Glen Lochay, so that might be an option for Sunday. It also means that I can drive the 11 miles back to Fortingall in the light rather than spending another illicit night at Innerwick and driving off on a possibly frosty morning like today.

okay...
ImageP1050041 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Oops
ImageP1050042 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Still snowy roads
ImageP1050043 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Stats
ImageP1050044 by 23weasels, on Flickr


We return to the car by 2pm, head into Killin for some provisions and drive along the Glen Lochay road. Wasn't sure where to camp, but did remember a little spot off the road by the parking area for Meall Ghaordaidh, which was in fact our first ever wild camp site back in Feb 2013. Looking at the map it looked feasible to take a route to Oighreag that set off along the Gheordaidh track rather than the track WH uses. Sorted, we pitched on soggy snow just as the rain began. There was another 4x4 parked in the layby and when I heard the owners return I nipped out to have a word about the snow conditions. As I thought they'd been climbing Ghaordaidh and turned out to be a couple we'd last met in a blizzard on Ruadh-stac Mor on Beinn Eighe last November. Small world. Chatted for a bit then returned to cooking tea (spicy sweet potato & coconut soup followed by mushroom chili since you ask). Darkness fell - no stars tonight as the rainclouds were down. And it rained all night. The roaring of the River Lochay grew louder and the wind whipped and tore at the tent.

ImageP1050045 by 23weasels, on Flickr

When morning came I couldn't believe the amount of snow melt - hills that had been coated white yesterday were now bare. A couple of cars drew up as we were getting the tent down - a group off to climb Ghaordaidh with some young boys looking excited as they brandished ice axes. We plodded along the sodden track alongside the Allt Dhuin Croisg which was swollen and gushing. River crossings were going to be an issue today :roll: We came to the first tributary of the Allt an Fhaing which required negotiation of an interesting "bridge". Sick Kid was not amused. From the map I saw that we had one more river to cross later on. The ground was still snow covered up here and the sky alternately brightened and darkened with the threat of new snow. We reached a vague ATV track which took us over one arm of the river, but we had to walk a long way upstream before we found a suitable place to cross over - the water rushing in a tumult was quite intimidating. We were over to the west of Carn Shionnach by now and started to head towards the higher ground. Streams running under the snow were a constant threat and in one SK had her foot plunge into icy water then not be able to retrieve it, as the icy held it tight. Minor panic ensued as we both tried to dig out the wet ice around her leg, with limited success and it took several minutes to free her. By this time we both had sodden feet and took boots off to wring out the Sealskinz. Cold feet were the result of that and became worse as we continued up the hill.

White yesterday...
ImageP1050048 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050049 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050052 by 23weasels, on Flickr

"bridge"
ImageP1050053 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050054 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View towards Ghaordaidh
ImageP1050056 by 23weasels, on Flickr


As we reached the back of Carn Shionnach we could see a path taking us along towards the summit. However the wind began to pick up now - we'd been sheltered previously - and boy did it get strong!! The stretch between the 876m point and the summit of Oighreag was completely exposed to the wind and threatened to blow us over. Dipping down to the lee side of the path helped, but it was a challenge to get up to the cairn itself. I stayed on the lee side to touch the top, but SK decided to climb up onto the rock the small cairn sits on and was promptly blown round the rock on her descent, bashing her knee and elbow. Eejit. We parked ourselves for food in the shelter of a split rock and mused on our cold toes. I did have a spare set of socks in the rucksack, but decided we'd probably warm up on the descent. Followed our footprints back along - SK did wonder if we should alter our route to the WH one in the hope that this might mean fewer river crossings, but I felt that we at least knew what was ahead for us going back the way we'd come, so chose to do that. Sun came out briefly before the snow started up again, but the walk back was straightforward enough and neither of us ended up with frostbitten tootsies. A tough day out today, but another 2 Corbetts in the bag.

Carn Shionnach
ImageP1050057 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Cam Chreag
ImageP1050059 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Oighreag ahead
ImageP1050060 by 23weasels, on Flickr

View towards Lawers
ImageP1050062 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ghaordaidh
ImageP1050064 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Oighreag
ImageP1050067 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Summit
ImageP1050068 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Eejit
ImageP1050069 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050070 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Tarmachan ridge
ImageP1050072 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050076 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Stats
ImageP1050083 by 23weasels, on Flickr
Last edited by weaselmaster on Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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weaselmaster
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Air

Postby gammy leg walker » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:35 pm

Another well written TR,pity I cant see any pictures.
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Air

Postby PeteR » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:51 pm

You're both nuts :lol:

I saved both of these as bad weather hills earlier in the ear, but your report on both is something else :clap:

And some great photos too, despite the wintry conditions :D
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Air

Postby rockhopper » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:05 pm

ach, you're both off your respective trolleys :wink: ..........can't for the life of me think why you'd want to do this when you could be doing the Christmas shopping instead... :shock: :crazy: :eh: :silent: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :wink: :wink: = cheers :)
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby pollyh33 » Mon Dec 15, 2014 12:40 am

Oh dear God- what is wrong with you two???? :shock: :shock: :shock:


I have chewed off an inch of lip reading that! Damn near drew blood looking at Sicko Kid tackling that river crossing!!!! :crazy: :crazy: :crazy: :crazy:


Please stay indoors and stop frightening big cissies like me !!!! :( :( :( :( :( :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

PS bloody brilliant report! :lol:
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Dec 15, 2014 1:49 am

Ouch! My feet felt cold just looking at those raging burns!

Great report - I guess it shows you can have fun however tough the going is...

BTW what sleeping bags do you use? For my 21st (ish) birthday I've been given a credit note for a good down bag, and you guys clearly must have good bags, so any "inside information" gratefully received..
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby goth_angel » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:02 am

Some great photos but..

- that river crossing looks mental;

- do you never think of getting a nice B&B instead of camping in the snow/ rain? :shock:
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:21 pm

goth_angel wrote:- do you never think of getting a nice B&B instead of camping in the snow/ rain? :shock:


Now where would be the fun in that :wink:
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby Beaner001 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:22 pm

Brilliant walk report Weaselmaster, really enjoyed that but like others I do not envy the river crossing or the camping out in those conditions :shock: :lol: . Well done to you both :clap:
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby AnnieMacD » Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:28 am

Well, I'm glad you two are going out and keeping up the reputation of the WHers! Pretty nerve-wracking stuff but glad you both got out OK. I can't imagine getting stuck in the ice - maybe will have nightmares tonight ...
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby scottishkennyg » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:04 pm

Nice outing there. Shame Allison had to get the ice treatment. Hope you enjoy your upcoming winter experience with Martin Moran here is a wee image I found for you..
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=232771

Not seen any images with you guys wearing snow shoes, was reading Paul Websters recent report and it reminded me to ask how you guys got on with the shoes.. Cheers Kenny
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:29 pm

scottishkennyg wrote:Nice outing there. Shame Allison had to get the ice treatment. Hope you enjoy your upcoming winter experience with Martin Moran here is a wee image I found for you..
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=232771

Not seen any images with you guys wearing snow shoes, was reading Paul Websters recent report and it reminded me to ask how you guys got on with the shoes.. Cheers Kenny


Cheers for the pic SKG - won't mind too much if we get weather like that.

I bought a set of snowshoes last winter and found them really helpful on that awful deep soft snow. However, one pair of snowshoes between 2 people doesn't really work :roll: Allison's now got a set too, but we have not used them yet this year
- it's always a "will we, won't we" strap them to the rucksack when you don't know if you'll need them or not - it's not like they are small and easily portable. Will report when we have had them on.

He're a link to my first experience at the start of last yr
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=38805
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Re: Killin me softly - Trial by Ice and Wind

Postby scottishkennyg » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:06 pm

He're a link to my first experience at the start of last yr
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=38805[/quote]

Cheers Al..kit on wish list now.
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