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Good weather for ptarmigans!

Good weather for ptarmigans!


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:22 pm

Route description: The Tarmachan Ridge

Munros included on this walk: Meall nan Tarmachan

Date walked: 10/03/2015

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 760m

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I was absent from the forum last week and that's because we enjoyed a week off, also known as "hillidays" :lol: With ambitious plans and a few good mountains on our spring to-do list, all we needed was clear weather... Sadly, the beginning of the week brought heavy rain, high winds and flooding - River Beauly burst its banks and we were a bit worried about the whole village getting flooded. In the end, only the caravan park by Lovat Bridge suffered any damage, but many local roads were closed due to standing water (Cannich was completely cut off at some point, both aceess roads to this village flooded). Thankfully, on Sunday morning weather improved and though it was still showery, we took the chance and set off to climb something down Fort William way.
But as they say... When it rains, it pours. We only got as far as Drumnadrochit when the car refused to cooperate :evil: We managed to crawl back to Inverness where Kevin went hunting for spare parts. Of course, we could now forget about hillwalking till the girl was fixed!
We managed to patch up the good, old "La Toya" on Monday (or so we thought)... Tuesday looked good, especially down south, so I talked Kevin into a long-ish drive south to visit Tarmachan Ridge. He has done it, I haven't and somehow I always fancied it in winter condition...

But it never rains... We only passed Tummel Bridge on the way down, when the bl***dy red "engine failure" light came on again!!! :evil: :evil: This time it was one of the ignition coils playing up. Of course, you can drive a car on two cylinders, but it will be slow like a snail on Sunday stroll.
No point turning back as we were closer to Loch Tay than Inverness, so we decided to do the walk and hope that we can get back without a call to AA :lol:
I don't know how she managed to climb up the slope to the NTS car park, but somehow she did! We were late to start though so after a quick look at the map we decided, that if we run out of time (we needed some 3 hours to return home) we will cut the walk short by descending via the southern ridge of Meall Garbh.
I was surprised to see an empty car park. Higher up, we met a few people, they must have all started from the parking by the dam.
I feel lonely... So lonely...
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Our route:

Track_TARMACHAN RIDGE 10-03-15.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


It was quite windy and cold, but we were desperate to enjoy the day, or what was left of it anyway:
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Quite a bit of snow, even lower down on the path. We carried full winter gear as it looked like we might face icy conditions higher up...
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The dam from above, Meall Corranaich to the right:
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Beinn Ghlas and Meall Corranaich framed in white:
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The path ascending the southern shoulder of Meall nan Tarmachan was easy enough to follow, we caught up with some other walkers also aiming for the Munro. Weather was moody though and just below the lower top (923m) we saw cloud coming towards us from the west...
Apocalypse coming :lol: :lol:
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The lower top just above us:
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Heavy snow shower entered the stage as we climbed the 923m top, in shape of frozen rain (very stingy) but luckily it only lasted 10 minutes or so. Right behind it, came some sunshine and brightened the day :D
Better weather arriving:
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But before we could rest on the summit basking in sunshine, we had to negotiate this:
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It may look easy in the photo but we knew that no way we could venture onto the hard, compacted snow without crampons. Spikes and axes were out then - for the first time this year! We didn't really have good winter-walking weather this winter, not so far. Now it was time for some adrenaline!
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View back towards the lower top (with two other walkers on the summit). The sun was out and I could smell the adventure coming!
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Spikes on, we walked onto the snow. There was a thick layer of fresh powder on top of hard ice, which made climbing quite slow, but I was having so much fun, I didn't care about time!
About half way up the final slope, we reached a large patch of grass. From there, we surveyed the last metres of the straight-on approach. Looked steep but manageable:
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A few fellow walkers had a different idea, they considered the straight-on climb too steep and took another route. We all met on the summit :D
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The final slope was covered with even more fresh snow and soon I found out, I was sliding down even in crampons - two steps up, one step down. Axes proved useful to actually dig through the soft snow to reach the harder surface. After climbing maybe 15 metres, we hit better ground and picked better pace, too. Soon we were up on the ridge just below the Munro summit. My legs were hurting from constant kicking spikes into the ice, but... forget it, what a view we had now!!!
If "mountain p*rn" could be rated, this would be a five-star quality. Just see what we saw...
The Ridge:
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A couple of zooms:
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Behind me, the very summit of Meall nan Tarmachan, only a short stroll away now:
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Five minutes later we were posing by the summit cairn, me with Lawers Group in the back ground:
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Meall Garbh from the top of the Munro:
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Zoom to Beinn nan Eachan an the southern hills beyond:
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Summit cairn and Lawers Ridge:
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The pointy top of Meall Garbh with Ben More-Stob Binnein group in the distance:
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A happy man, even though it wasn't a new Munro for him:
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One more time... This view is just amazing!
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We knew we had enough time to traverse at least to Meall Garbh and we were not the only people who enjoyed the sunny day:
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Let's go!
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We kept spikes on just in case, but the snow on the ridge was easier to walk on and we didn't encounter any problems when traversing to the second top. We stopped every five minutes to take photos and videos... time was forgotten again. I loved the white-world experience!
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View west:
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The final approach to Meall Garbh:
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Beinn nan Eachan:
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Back to Meall nan Tarmachan:
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On the top of Meall Garbh, we took another break to sink in the wonderful panoramas around us:
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I couldn't resist traversing this little ridge:
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We walked half way down to the next col, but having looked at our watches we suddenly realised it was getting late and due to the car playing up we simply could not afford driving back in the dark. Sadly, we had to retreat :( but I'm sure we will revisit this ridge in the future, it's really worth it!
So long, Beinn nan Eachan, we will be back! Meow!
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We returned to the top of Meall Garbh and then took the southern shoulder down to the glen. There is a path most of the way (or I guess it is, higher up it was all covered with the white stuff), to begin with we descended on the snow:
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Ben More and Stob Binnein, another target for another trip:
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Panther enjoying the snowy slopes:
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View back towards Meall Garbh:
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Creag na Caillich:
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Filming on the way down:
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This river wasn't in spate, just as well:
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We reached the track, crossed a stile over the fence and enjoyed a short walk back to the car park :D Shame we couldn't do the whole ridge but considering the circumstances we were lucky to manage anything at all. At least we didn't waste the day!
The ridge from the track:
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The return drive was uneventful albeit long. We spent the next couple of days fixing the car. She's working now, touch the wood, but Kevin got fed up with constant problems she's been causing recently and the decision was taken to get a new car. The Japanese girl will then be replaced by a German one, hopefully in the next two months. Sad to say good bye to the good old "La Toya", she's taken us to many, many mountains, castles and forests... But she's well past her time now :(

My next TR will tell the story of a certain Skye Graham :D
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BlackPanther
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby basscadet » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:54 pm

What brilliant photos, definitely worth the bother 8)

Shame about the car I can sympathyse fully. I had to replace Sunny last November, and it wasn't nice at all.. When I drove my new car minty home, I felt so bad I parked her in an alternative location, so Sunny wouldn't see me driving another motor :lol:
Sunny had dents from encounters with horses, bulls and ditches - every one a happy memory :wink:
Getting used to Minty now, but only just..
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:32 pm

Another goodie BP, some stunning photo's :clap: :clap:
It did look rather overcast, but at least the cloud base was higher than a Munro for you :lol:

Good luck with the new motor, get my new one tomorrow 8)
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby PeteR » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:20 pm

Real shame about the car :( I've had similar experiences myself and it can put a real dampener on the day.

Tarmachan has a great ridge too, better than the Munro in my view. Still you got some great photos though despite your travails :D
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby hopper68 » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:27 pm

Some crackin pics there, you certainly got the weather
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:17 pm

Shame about the car - but as you say she's got you to some stunning locations. :D Love this hill - but like you didn't do the ridge - the weather was deteriorating and it was Biggles first munro, we were keen that it wouldn't be his last, but in the snow he proved that a 10 month old puppy on the hills is game for anything!!
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby gordon l » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:08 am

Some fabulous photos here of a great winter walk. Sad to give up a faithful old vehicle but sure you will get many miles of your next one. My reliable German has clocked up close on 150,000 miles and counting!
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:32 pm

Many thanks everybody! :D :D :D Glad you all enjoyed my little story... I have three more TRs to write, so I'm only warming up :lol:

The new set of wheels has been ordered. It will arrive in 6-8 weeks so we have some time left to take La Toya to a few more mountain trips, hopefully she survives in one piece!

By the way, giving cars names... Must be a lass thing? I called our previous one Pepper, because her official papers said she was pepper red. La Toya comes from Toyota obviously. The new one will have to earn its name, time will tell :D
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby litljortindan » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:14 pm

A great antedote for car worries.
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Re: Good weather for ptarmigans!

Postby Shug » Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:26 am

Great photos that inspired me to pick the Tarmachan ridge for my jaunt on Saturday.
Been quite a bit of snow loss in the 11 days since you did it. Still plenty there tho, but crampons stayed in bag.
Tho I was seriously questioning my sanity trying to descend the scramble over icy/wet rock that had water constantly running over! Quite a baptism for my new boots.
I wont tell you the joys I've had with my german car. Wouldn't want to put you off! (Vorsprung durch technik mein arsch!)
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