walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

The Battle of Tarmachan [no] Ridge

The Battle of Tarmachan [no] Ridge


Postby roscoT » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:23 pm

Route description: The Tarmachan Ridge

Munros included on this walk: Meall nan Tarmachan

Date walked: 12/02/2017

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 678m

2 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).


tarmachan.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


My kid brother (the legend that is Beef) was keen for his second big day in the hills after successful completion of the Glen Lyon round of 4 last Summer, and the plan was originally to do Stuchd an Lochain and, depending on how that went, Meall Buidhe too. My walk taking in a corbett at Glen Orchy the previous day had been cold but not overly-taxing, so I was up for another day out. However, a couple of things got in the way of said plan:

1. The road from Loch Tay to Glen Lyon was iced over at the Lochan na Lairige. My near death experience on the way to Beinn a' Ghlo had taught me my car was not, contrary to my belief at times, a snow mobile. We went no further.

2. Beef was busy on the Saturday and had insisted on walking on the Sunday, which offered worse conditions. In particular, the wind was going to be an issue - 60-70mph gusts forecast :shock: Added to this, Beef did not have crampons or an ice axe. In my defence of the report you are about to read, I had warned him several times!

A quick think and we settled on Meall nan Tarmachan - this was the only of the Lawers group I had yet to climb, but I had wanted to wait until the Summer to do the full ridge. Without wanting to drive anywhere further away, and not knowing when/if the weather might close in, this seemed like a decent Plan B. We would see how things were on the summit before making the decision on the ridge - as it proved, however, getting to the summit was more than a mission in itself...

The main Ben Lawers car park was also a sheet of ice, so we parked as safely as possible at the side of the road. Even here, the soft and dry air had a bite to it - uncovered hands turning blue at a moment's notice. We set off along the winding icy path and began to climb, looking up at the subsidiary top of Meall nan Tarmachan, which looked a long way away - in distance but more obviously in effort. Before long, the wind had picked up significantly, but the cloud mercifully remained high and so visibility back to Loch Tay and ahead over the reservoir was decent (there aren't many photos on this report as my gloves made operating the camera a bit of a hassle!).

ImageBack to Loch Tay by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageReservoir by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1030987 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Happily, some kind soul had built a snowman to lift our spirits, and we continued gleefully on to the gate at about 650m to begin the hill climb proper. The snow at this point was maybe just over ankle deep.

ImageSnowman by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

We climbed slowly through the snow, following some blown-over deep footsteps at times. Progress was slow and methodical. It was seriously cold - the crosswinds from the east hammering sprindrift off of our cheeks. I went ahead and made footsteps to follow, Beef using his poles to heave himself up.

ImageP1030992 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1030994 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

We passed a group of a couple of guys coming down who said they had gone 'half way' but turned back as the wind was too bad. This was concerning. The skies cleared briefly and we continued up towards the 923m top, wanting to wait until we could get behind something and out of the wind before stopping. We could see another group of 2 ahead in the distance.

ImageP1030995 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1030996 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1030997 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Another group came down and past us, from Northern England I think by their accents. We caught up to the 2 lads ahead of us and sheltered from the wind with them for a bit, getting some food and water in. We had a decision to make, the 4 of us deciding, as the conditions beside the wind and drifting snow were good, to head up to the 923m top and re-assess. This was a real slog - fully exposed to the wind and spindrift, falling in snow pockets every couple of steps. I donned my goggles, but Beef had no such luxury. When we arrived at the top, we looked over the bealach to the gully, which looked impregnable. The other 2 lads weren't hopeful, but headed across to the bottom anyway, and we followed a distance behind.

ImageP1030999 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Below the steep gully, the guys took a break and said they would probably go back down. I knew there was about another 100-150m ascent which we could do pretty quickly so long as the cloud didn't come in, but it would be tough. Beef initially wanted to go down, then changed his mind (without any prompt from me, I should add), citing the old 'we've got this far' line which has been the demise of many. And so we went, starting up the gully. A folly I will not be in a hurry to repeat, for if I were on my own, I would have turned back.

The gully itself needed some careful foot placement and route finding, but mercifully was at least partially out of the wind. My main concern by this point was trying to avoid Beef's face becoming frostbitten (he rejected my offers of goggles and face protectors - I assume this was some sort of assertion of his masculinity - 'wee brother sydrome'? To be fair he is a lot bigger than me!)

ImageClimbing the gully by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

The gully now negotiated, it was over flattish ground and seriously deep snow (this was potential avalanche territory so every step was measured) to the steep but short pull-up to the north of the summit, before almost turning back on ourselves to reach the cairn, where the conditions were perversely calm. Didn't tell him at the time (I have my own masculinity to assert mind), but was pretty proud to be standing there with my brother. As I write this, I realise how grateful I am to have found hillwalking as a pastime - not only does it allow you to appreciate the world around you, but also the people. Well done Beef :clap:

ImageSummit! by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageBros by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040004 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

After a couple of minutes of hedomism, it was time to concentrate again for the descent - the ridge was an absolute no-go. We made decent progress, but took our time again at the gully, which was even more treacherous on descent that ascent - i tried to give Beef a few pointers on the safest technique. At the bottom, we ate a sandwich and bypassed the 923m top and col by following the fenceposts down (which was better in terms of spindrift, but much worse in terms of snow depth!) We could allow ourselves a bit of larking about, now we were in relative safety. As with any challenging day like this, it seems to take forever to get down, and so it proved. Finally, however, we made it back, and I was glad to see my car had not slid down the hill. Beef was fully frozen, including wet feet (lack of gaiters to blame), and so got a change of clothes as we got the heating on in the car. I couldn't believe we'd only walked 8K!

I think he slept pretty well that night :lol:

These are the kind of days you learn a lot from, and I definitely did :)

ImageDescending by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

ImageP1040007 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
User avatar
roscoT
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 242
Munros:136   Corbetts:26
Grahams:13   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:5   Islands:15
Joined: Jul 26, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: The Battle of Tarmachan [no] Ridge

Postby teaandpies » Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:54 pm

It's a whole different ball game in the snow as I found out last week.

Did you get your axe back then?
teaandpies
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 931
Munros:94   Corbetts:17
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:6
Joined: Mar 19, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: The Battle of Tarmachan [no] Ridge

Postby roscoT » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:28 am

teaandpies wrote:It's a whole different ball game in the snow as I found out last week.

Did you get your axe back then?


Yeah I had done a big walk in the deep snow on Beinn a'Ghlo a few weeks back and that was a challenge but fine, it was just the strength of the wind that was a killer on this one!

Yeah got the axe back, will need to buy you a pint for that one :D
User avatar
roscoT
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 242
Munros:136   Corbetts:26
Grahams:13   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:14   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:5   Islands:15
Joined: Jul 26, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: The Battle of Tarmachan [no] Ridge

Postby teaandpies » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:08 am

roscoT wrote:
teaandpies wrote:It's a whole different ball game in the snow as I found out last week.

Did you get your axe back then?


Yeah I had done a big walk in the deep snow on Beinn a'Ghlo a few weeks back and that was a challenge but fine, it was just the strength of the wind that was a killer on this one!

Yeah got the axe back, will need to buy you a pint for that one :D


That pint would be better rewarded to the honest individual that made the effort of finding it's owner :lol:

Hill walking (beyond the Lomond and Nevis crowd) attracts really decent people :thumbup:
teaandpies
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 931
Munros:94   Corbetts:17
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:6
Joined: Mar 19, 2014
Location: Glasgow

2 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).



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: dt27348, ibeaney, IreneM, Pete and Esther, PeteR, Sam Paisley, SOLOMOUNTAINEER and 77 guests