by yokehead » Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:54 pm
Route description: Meall Ghaordaidh from Glen Lochay
Munros included on this walk: Meall Ghaordaidh
Date walked: 09/03/2009
Distance: 9.2 km
Ascent: 875mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Despite great intentions for an early start it was 10 am when I arrived at the small verge-side parking space in Glen Lochay and I was staying only 15 minutes away. Weather wise it was bright with showers, the forecast was for strong winds to start with, decreasing to about 35mph in the afternoon. There were 2 other cars parked, walkers getting ready to go, I had a chat with one of the guys and found that he lives just 5 miles from me in the flatlands of Hertfordshire – small world!
There had been a good deal of snowfall over the past few days and strong west winds. Nevertheless, instead of the usual way up the south-east ridge I hoped for a bit of additional sport and keeping out of the wind for as long as possible by heading north then turning into Ghaordaidh’s east corrie below Cam Chreag for a push to the summit that way. I followed the track alongside the Allt Dhuin Chroisg as far as it went, passing by the turnoff to the ridge where I could see 2 walkers and enjoying the views that were opening up.
I then aimed for the western end of Cam Chreag, climbing steadily up the not too steep slope. The odd shower came and went, obscuring my aiming point but no problem since I was going up! Turning back to look at the superb view I saw a herd of about 60 deer heading up the valley, I must have spooked them. A closer look showed another similar sized herd further away, the land was awash with them! This is great wild country with 2 high mountain passes that head to Glen Lyon, hemmed in by Ghaordaidh, the Tarmachan range and the Corbett Beinn nan Oighreag.
I was getting into deeper snow, it was now regularly up to my knees making movement difficult and slowing me down considerably. Occasionally I’d be in to the top of my legs, fun getting out of that, and exasperating! The west wind was also stronger as I moved further out of the lee of the ridge. I reached a place where there were a number of large boulders and banks, fairly close to Cam Chreag which looked like it could offer some good climbing fun if there hadn’t been so much snow on it. I headed for a heavily drifted, sculpted area to stop for some fuel. The wind was stronger still so I made a quick snow cave by burrowing into a snow bank using my map case as a shovel, not too deep and only about 15 minutes work. I settled in and got out the oxtail soup with cheese and ham sandwiches, my word was it good! I was out of the wind and spindrift was blowing overhead (and a little bit into my soup I will admit, I should have dug deeper!). A vicious snow squall passed by so I had timed my stop well.
I spent quite a time over lunch, enjoying the superb view to the west side of the Tarmachan range. Beinn nan Eachan and the ridge to Creag na Caillich looked really interesting, I must go there sometime having been nearly blown off the mountain last year when the full ridge walk had been planned. Anyway, let’s get moving, whilst getting ready to go I managed to clonk myself on the forehead with the adze of the ice axe, basic mistake of lifting something whilst holding the axe! I got out of the cave to find that the wind had increased dramatically and the slope was alive with spindrift. Another shower was on its way in. Time to take stock then, weather worsening and the snow too deep to continue on my planned route. Should I retreat? But I had come so far, so I decided to head south west up onto the ridge to find the wind-scoured ground that would give easier going. This was a struggle through the snow at first but I persevered and reached the ridge about 1 km from the summit. Wind still strengthening and the squalls more frequent and prolonged, visibility at times now down to a few metres. What a change from a couple of hours ago, so much for the forecast of reducing wind!
I battled up the ridge, stopping behind large boulders when I could to avoid the worst of the lashing, horizontal snow and spindrift. Crampons and goggles on whilst I had the chance. I then met a woman descending, she said that she had turned back because of the whiteout conditions. I felt I had enough energy to push on a bit more so went for the summit as fast as I could, visibility almost nil now, ice over much of the ground and getting hard to stand. There was a bit of clearance and there was the trig point directly in front – made it! I saw where the woman had stopped, I could tell from the marks of her single walking pole, she had been only 10 metres from the summit.
I crouched down in the shelter for a couple of minutes and took a photo of the trig point, then made a fast exit for lower ground, it now being 4 pm. In the better conditions of earlier I foolishly hadn’t noted the compass bearing to take to follow the ridge back down and thought it was more to the south than in reality so missed the ridge. No matter, I just headed on down, glad to be out of the cloud at about 600m and the storm relented as well. This way was fine; at one place I took delight in a stream that had used the foundation of a stone wall as its course. Needless to say the wall was collapsing! I cupped my hands and took a wee drink from it lower down where it turned to follow the more direct route down the fall line, delicious.
I reached the road around 1.5 km west of where I’d parked, an easy stroll to round off the day. Back at the car I looked in the rear-view mirror to sort my hair out the best I could (as you do, so that you don’t look like a twolly) and saw that I had dried blood running down to the bridge of my nose, from the axe hit!
Driving back I decided that, if I were to sex the hills I climb, then Meall Ghaordaidh is a lady and I’m most grateful that she allowed me to achieve my goal that day.
by Alan S » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:37 pm
i hope that lady isnt reading this she will be gutted to have been that close and turned back.
when did you do this walk? (unless i missed the date somewhere)
im heading to crianlarich tomorrow hope theres not as much snow
by yokehead » Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:41 pm
I forgot to put the date in, it was Monday 9th straight after the snowfalls. I'm still in Killin, sadly most of the snow has gone now since the thaw has been really fast although some will still be found in east and north sheltered spots as I found yesterday on Schiehallion. Have a good trip.
by cjwaugh » Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:02 pm
by yokehead » Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:32 pm
by doogz » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:23 pm
the gorgonzola effect on the summit cairn was amazing ...blown holes thru the gaps in the rocks
good report mate...
- Posts: 449
- Joined: Sep 17, 2008
by cjwaugh » Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:41 pm
?[/quoteI ve yet to find a boring hill but there is plenty to comenot a boring hill as some say, is it
by kevsbald » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:55 am
by ollie » Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:12 pm
by jonny616 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:17 pm