Beaten by a Corbett- the day I had to turn back
by Mountainlove » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:33 pm
Route description: Beinn an Lochain
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn an Lochain
Date walked: 13/02/2016
Time taken: 4 hours6 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).
Driving along Loch Lomond it was starting to snow and by the time I parked my car close to the Rest and be Thankful I stepped out into a mini snow storm.
The path up the mountain was barely visible, but the mountain was pretty straight forward (in theory anyway) . Following some footsteps I started the climb and oh how great was it to be back into mountain land
The path was climbing steeply and at times it turned into a sheet of ice. The views back were pretty stunning and between heavy snow showers it even looked as if the weather might change for the better. Fingers crossed I thought.
The start of the walk
Looking back towards the road
The climb begins
The snow started again
For the first hour I made good progress, but the higher I climbed the worst the wind got and I was feeling the wind chill badly. Stopping for water break, I got out another layer of clothing…not easy as the wind nearly ripped my jacket out of my hand. Two other walkers who had been walking ahead of me suddenly stopped and returned towards me. Curiously we exchanged some greetings when our paths crossed and they seemed concerned when I told them that I would be walking on.
Turning around I watched them descending, while the wind was getting stronger and stronger. The weather also closed in and by the time I reached the 637m mark it was snowing heavily. The snow hit me like needles and walking without a ski mask would have been impossible. The path, now hardly visible, seemed to curve around the sheer rock face in front of me. Walking along I reached a 50 degree vertical slope. The snow was still soft enough, so I did not bother with crampons, but I could have kicked myself for forgetting my ice axe …even for my liking the slope was a bit scary.
Walking slowly I soon stood in the middle of a steep slope of snow, which turned more and more into ice. Oh God I needed my crampons as in now! Looking back I did not fancy turning around, but walking along was impossible. Looking up I saw a small rock outcrop that would need to do. Digging with my hand into the snow I climbed on all fours towards it and manged to dig out a flatish area to sit. Far from perfect as there was hardly space, but I managed to put my crampons on and swore to myself to do this earlier next time. With crampons on, I felt much safer and ignoring the steep slope to my right, I climbed up towards the 764m mark. It was a steep and a white out was raging around me. On my hands and feet I climbed up and sat on what appeared to be a ledge. I was really disorientated and stayed crouched down until I was able to see again.
Just as well as I was only a few meters away from ~300m drop. I have had some scary moments on hills, but this Corbett proved to be something completely different. Checking the map I got my bearings again and realized I was on the ridge. With no shelter the wind hit me with full force and I was pushed all over the place and walked like a drunk. I made really slow process and finally reached the 800m mark, which is the start of the last steep climb. By that time I was not able to stand up anymore and was thrown to my knees numerous times. Waiting for a while, I tried to stand agin , but was thrown back down. I tried to crawl and looking up the steep slope ahead of me, I suddenly came to a halt. What was I doing? There was no visibility, I was in the middle of a snow storm and I was not able to walk because of it. Why on earth would I risk to get blown off a cliff edge? To touch a cairn in white out conditions? I would not proof anything, apart from stupidity!
There! I had reached point when not gear or wrong equipment or lack of experience was to blame, I had reached a point when the force of nature made it impossible to walk on.
The thought made me smile and bow my head in respect of the mountain. There was no feeling of failure, it was more a feeling of success, as I had never experienced such a force of nature before and was happy that I had experienced it.
Moving back I suddenly remembered my camera and that I should at least try to take a photo. Crouching down I lay the backpack in front of me. Seconds later the wind picked it up (all 8 kilos of it) and flung it forward towards the cliff edge. With a belly flip I jumped forward and landed flat on my backpack. Woah!
The walk back was just as difficult as the climb had been and without my GPS I would have been totally lost in numerous white outs. Half way down the mountain the sky cleared a bit and the visibility got pretty spectacular. Looking back I was tempted to return, but dropped the thought when the wind managed to rip my neoprene cover of my camera and all I could do was wave it good bye, while the wind lifted it higher and higher up in the sky on the way down the mountain.
I reached my car about an hour later and looked up at the mountain which was now in partial sunshine. What a day it had been and I think I better complete the easy Munros....before I turn to the dangerous world of Corbetts
The last climb which I did not attempt in the 60mph winds
The view after the white out had passed...just as well I did not walk on
Views are getting better
The way up
Its a steep wee mountain
Towards the wee lochan
The way down
The general direction my camera cover flew towards
Spin drift forming (they were pretty harmless in comparison to what I experienced at the top)
Much better weather towards the end of the climb
by Collaciotach » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:05 am
by KatTai » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:17 am
by Mal Grey » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:52 pm
by Alteknacker » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:02 pm
I hope it's not quite as dramatic for the last week in Feb when I'll be up in God's own country for the first time since last September...
Was it chillier than Sri Lanka??
by PeteR » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:10 pm
Get it on a good day and it gives one of the best short hill walks out there. Having said that it had me turning back one winter in what sounded like similar conditions to yours - heavy snow and strong winds. Then again, I decided to turn round and drop down a tad sooner than you by the sounds of it
by gman » Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:24 pm
by Jock McJock » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:14 pm
Thanks for posting, been itching to do this in winter for a couple of years now. Looking like my plan B next week.
by katyhills » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:19 pm
Glad you got back safely.
In light of what's happened in the last couple of days especially.
by spiderwebb » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:04 am
But you did the right thing, taking stock and then decision time Surprising the cloud in your pics as it was blue skies further north last Sat but the wind was evident for sure.
by dav2930 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:55 pm
by BobMcBob » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:52 pm
by Gomez » Sat Dec 03, 2016 1:05 am
by Mountainlove » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:13 am