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Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Postby Fife Flyer » Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:50 pm

Route description: Tom a' Chòinich & Toll Creagach, Glen Affric

Munros included on this walk: Toll Creagach, Tom a' Chòinich

Date walked: 14/03/2015

Time taken: 7.1 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1100m

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This is a follow on from my Ben Avon outing, let's call it part 2, couldn't think of an amusing subject title, normally the inspiration comes during the walk, not quite sure why that didn't happen yesterday :lol:
Gary, Leia and I had arranged to meet at the parking area near Chisholm Bridge at 9am, I had been staying in a B&B in Inverness whereas Gary & Leia had planned to stay in the Hostel in Glen Affric, however on their arrival they had the really terrible news that the Hostel was full and they had been 'upgraded' to a chalet or log cabin - rough luck :lol: :lol:
I had asked my B&B hosts if they could prepare my breakfast earlier than the scheduled dining time of 8am and they agreed which was very good of them. What a breakfast, kept me going for most of the day, those of you who are on a diet skip the next bit :wink:
Bowl of muesli, followed by a croissant, 3 slices of toast, full Scottish and a couple of cups of tea. Had I been really hungry/greedy I could have had cakes, fruit and even more toast, but I have my figure to think of :lol: :lol:
I got a bit of a surprise when I went out to my car, the windscreen was iced over, this was initially a problem as all the usual junk that clutters up the interior of car was in my garage as the car will be going to a new home next week :( So it was time to improvise, I dug out my B&Q card out of my wallet and that doubled up as an ice scraper.
I wasn't sure how far it was to the meeting point, I had fed in the postcode for Affric Lodge into the Satnav as I thought that was fairly close, it turned out that it was a few miles further along the single track road :lol:
A problem that would be a bit of a pain later was the closure of the A82 south of Drumnadrochit, that would mean having to head back up to Inverness before heading south down the A9 yet again :(
Met up with Gary and Leia, they had just arrived before me, there was a good covering of cloud but the weathermen were forecasting it to lift later :lol:
To save typing out the names of both hills in full, as very few Munro's are easy to type I will call them Tom (Tom a' Choinich) and Toll (Toll Creagach) :lol:

ImageDSCF8947 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - this is the last time my car will be seen by hill walkers :(

ImageDSCF8949 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Chisholm Bridge

The walk along the well established path was probably much worse than usual, there were numerous boggy bits caused by recent rain and snow melt, so it was a matter of picking your way along trying avoid the deeper bits of bogginess :(

ImageDSCF8957 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - first view of what lies ahead

Anyone in Fife may have heard a bit of cursing last night as I had finished what I thought was quite a good report, only to hit the Submit button and find that I had been logged off - panic stations :shock: After a bit of faffing, I remembered to hit the go back button, but sadly all that remained of the report was the above :( :( :(
So I will endeavour to try and remember some of what I had typed :wink:

We continued along the path which has a very gentle incline as best we could, trying to avoid being ankle deep in water or mud. I should also mention that I was reduced to one walking pole, after my exploits yesterday on Ben Avon, so I felt a bit lob sided and seemed to have one arm that didn't know what to do with itself :lol:
After what seemed like quite a while we reached the burn where firstly we had to cross it, then turn right and head uphill.

ImageDSCF8959 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - water feature

ImageDSCF8973 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Gary and Leia trying to catch me up :lol:

ImageDSCF8971 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - similar water feature, different angle

ImageDSCF8984 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Leia demonstrating how to cross a burn using perfect balance

ImageDSCF8985 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Snow hole I dug before Gary and Leia arrived

ImageDSCF8988 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - They look impressed with my digging

The next stage of the walk was probably the highlight of the day, a gradual climb over large snow fields which would eventually bring us out at the bealach. Gary was looking forward to reaching the bealach as he had memorised the height (900m) and we therefore knew once we reached there it would be fairly straightforward - well that was the theory :lol:
We were fortunate in that there was a party of 3 guys ahead of us, they probably left about 15 minutes before us and as a result we were able to follow there footsteps in the snow - thanks for that guys, much appreciated :clap:

ImageDSCF8992 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - face of concentration, how am I going to tackle this?

ImageDSCF8995 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - zoom to the 3 guys ahead, who were up from Devon :clap:

ImageDSCF9001 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - I think this gives you an indication of the angle of ascent up to the bealach :wink:

ImageDSCF9004 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - snow feature

ImageDSCF9008 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - another snow feature

ImageDSCF9016 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - you don't want to fall down there

ImageDSCF9014 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the way up to the bealach

ImageDSCF9023 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - first view of Loch Mullardoch, from the bealach

ImageDSCF9025 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - looking back down from the bealach

The bealach was reached and we got our first view down the other side to Loch Mullardoch, the bad news was that it became quite cold and blowy - bealachs tend to be like wind tunnels and as good as the views are, if it is cold you don't want to hang around - which it was and we didn't :lol:
The next stage of the adventure was to be by far and away the most difficult, scariest and dangerous. I should mention that I put my trusty micro spikes on at the start of the climb, I had meant/intended to bring my crampons but amongst all the careful planning forgot them :( Gary and Leia had opted not to bring crampons as Gary thought they wouldn't be required :lol: :lol: He did however have his ice axe and in true Gary style will give a demonstration later on how to use it :wink:

We could see the 3 guys ahead of us, so we continued up the rocky ridge towards the summit of Tom, carefully picking our way over the rocks, trying to avoid an icy bits and following in the footsteps :clap:
As we approached about half way up the ridge, both Gary and Leia were starting to really struggle to get any traction, so we had a serious discussion about the options. We knew that we could all probably reach the summit if we were careful and inched our way up, but coming back down would be far too risky and dangerous. So Gary and Leia made an executive decision and decided to abandon the rest of the ascent up Tom :(
I seriously considered my options and found that my spikes were giving me pretty good traction, so being an intrepid explorer opted to soldier on 8) It wasn't long before I reached one of the guys from the party ahead, he was just finishing putting his crampons on, so we had a brief chat and I followed him up, albeit much slower as he had much better grip :lol:

ImageDSCF9032 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - initial part of the ascent up Tom looking back to the bealach

ImageDSCF9038 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - starting to get a bit interesting

ImageDSCF9040 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - looking up, not much of a view

ImageDSCF9044 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Action shot to Gary & Leia ascending

ImageDSCF9047 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - 2 of the guys ahead surveying the way up

ImageDSCF9051 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - looking back down the ridge

ImageDSCF9053 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - one of the few shots I took on the summit

The summit of Tom was reached and the views were non existent, had a brief chat with the 3 guys ahead who we had been loosely following. They had flown up from Bristol to Glasgow, rented a car and were staying in a cottage for 5 days, sounds like fun to me :lol: :lol:
Now came the bit I was dreading, the initial part down was fairly easy over a nice firm large patch of snow, then it got interesting :lol: I am sure many of us have experienced 'interesting' descents, if you haven't you are lucky. I could sense my heart rate increasing, camera was put into the rucksack, walking pole was filed away, it was just me and my axe against the snow and icy way down 8)
I was conscious of the time and that Gary and Leia would be waiting patiently for me to appear out of the haze, I inched my way down. You know it is serious when you start inching down on your backside - I wasn't caring if I had a wet backside, I could worry about that later, I just wanted to get over this tricky section. I could feel my leg muscles tensing up, but I was making progress, it was just a matter of taking my time, concentrating and before too long I could see my walking colleagues. I was surprised that I hadn't been overtaken on the descent, so I must have been doing OK.
After the tricky section the underfoot conditions improved and I was soon relating the gory details to Gary and Leia and reassuring them that they had definitely made the correct decision :clap: :clap:

ImageDSCF9061 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - looking back up and it really doesn't look too bad :lol:

ImageDSCF9065 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - the way down and then across to Toll, Gary and Leia in the distance.

The initial ascent up Toll was easy, hardly any snow and just a matter of following the usual zig zag path. Gary was enjoying the walk up what is described as "a pudding hill" and we had a bit of a laugh about the different types of ascents.
It turned out to be quite a bit of a slog before we eventually reached the summit cairn, walking across a large flattish plateau and then a little rise. The views from Toll were outstanding, especially as the sun had eventually decided to burn off the clouds, it was still a bit hazy in the distance but we weren't really caring. The view across to Mullardoch was awesome, they look amazing hills :wink:

ImageDSCF9077 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - a local resident blending in nicely with it's surroundings

ImageDSCF9084 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Zoom back to the summit cairn on Tom

ImageDSCF9088 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Loch Mullardoch, not a ripple on the water

ImageDSCF9093 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Looking at the western end of Loch Mullardoch, zoomed

ImageDSCF9098 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Nice shadow

ImageDSCF9101 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Western end not zoomed

ImageDSCF9102 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Not sure what direction we are looking :lol: , I was just pointing and shooting

ImageDSCF9103 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - looking south over Loch Affric

Now it was time for the final part, the descent, this could be split into 2 parts, great fun over the snow and awful over the damp snow melted area near the path down :lol: A few photo's of the fun part, not surprising I didn't take any of the boggy bits you will just have to take my word for it :wink:

ImageDSCF9117 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Leia getting psyched up for a bum slide

ImageDSCF9119 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - not very good at steering :lol:

ImageDSCF9120 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - getting better

ImageDSCF9121 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - nearly done

ImageDSCF9122 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - done

ImageDSCF9125 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Ice axe arrest, well almost

ImageDSCF9126 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - second attempt

ImageDSCF9127 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - Success, you be the judge :wink:

As you can see from the snowy photo's great fun was had, unfortunately the next bit down to the main path wasn't any fun. However it wasn't too long before we were back on flat ground and walking back along beside the burn to the car.

ImageDSCF9142 by martin_beswick, on Flickr - one final parting shot, Gary posing in front of the ridge he intends to descend off when he returns :lol:

A fabulous day out and I suppose we have to give the weather forecasters a bit of credit, just a shame the sun didn't work harder earlier on. Huge thanks to Gary and Leia really enjoyed another day in your company, look forward to reading your umpteen reports from this coming weeks outings :wink:
Just a shame I may not be able to take advantage of this weather window, my new wheels don't arrive until Thursday :( One option of course is public transport, I quite fancied a train trip up to Achnasheen to climb Fhion Bheinn, but when I saw it takes 5 hours to get there, that turns out to be a non starter :lol:
Next :wink:
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Re: Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Postby basscadet » Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:27 pm

Looked like great fun, although the road closure must of been a pain :?
After the mists cleared, we were looking at the Glen Affric hills from Kintail - t'was a lovely weekend - Lucky us 8)

Canny wait to get back to these - managed to do all the Affric hills without actually going to Glen Affric, so have to do the lot again :lol:
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Re: Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Postby Lmyk85 » Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:11 pm

woo hoo love a bum slide!! Fabulous day out!
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Re: Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Postby PeteR » Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:12 pm

Good to see you have mastered the Flickr uploading Martin :clap: Some great photos :D

I can relate to those buttock clenching moments myself.......far too many times really, and I still have Skye to contend with. There is a real sense of achievement though when its all over.......once your legs recover of course :lol:
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Re: Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Postby kmai1961 » Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:39 pm

Nice, Martin -- just a nice relaxed weekend close to home, then? Are you going soft, or what? :lol:

Good job Gary and Leia, too. Looks like it was another fine adventure.
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Re: Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:41 pm

Good stuff and good to see what I missed last year on one of these two :wink:
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Re: Tom and Toll two totally different hills

Postby AnnieMacD » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:21 pm

Well done for sticking with the first hill. What amazing views - great photos.
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