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Burped off Alligin ridge

Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:38 pm

Route description: Beinn Alligin

Munros included on this walk: Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)

Date walked: 04/02/2018

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 7.1 km

Ascent: 968m

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Oh dear me. It's been a while since my last TR here, mainly for health reasons. Let's say that bacteria and bugs haven't been kind to me :wink: Both me and Kevin had to suffer through a nasty flu-like infection, we survived it but lost a couple of weekends of potential hillwalking: we were simply too weak to head for the hills and we didn't want to make our throats and blocked noses worse by freezing our bums on some remote Scottish lump :lol:

But on Sunday the 4th weather looked great - as good as a winter day can be. Little wind, blue sky, crispy snow. I was so hill-starved that I cooked up the idea of traversing Beinn Alligin. Yabadabadoo, Black Panther is coming back!

Sadly, our hopes for going anywhere near the Horns or even Sgurr Mhor were cut short by... yes, those bl***dy bugs.

I was feeling OK the day before, throat infection gone at last, I returned to jogging and calla stretching just to keep my fitness on reasonable levels. Kevin was in good form, too, and since he's bonkers about Alligin and knows this mountain very well, he suggested, we start the traverse clockwise, leaving the Horns as an optional. He was concerned about snow/ice on the scrambling sections. We have both done the Horns scrambling before, but in summer conditions. I knew that winter traverse was a different cup of tea, so going just over the two Munros and back was the most likely scenario.

I got up on Sunday feeling slightly off, but wouldn't even think about giving up! I was hoping, as soon as I'm out and breathing fresh air, I'll feel better. Nodded off in the passenger seat on the way up to Torridon and when we arrived at Coire Mhic Nobuil car park, I was sleepy but just looking out of the car window to the blue sky and white mountain tops was enough to made me meow!

We got ready and started up the Coir nan Laogh path which was a tad boggy, but the views made up for it. Who would complain when you have that in the background?
2018-02-04 ben alligin 012.JPG

Good morning Berinn Dearg!
2018-02-04 ben alligin 002.JPG

Still OK at the moment, marching steadily up the slope:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 019.JPG

We got to the stile over deer fence, here I had a mild attack of nausea when on the top of the stile, felt a bit wobbly but managed to pull it together. I told myself it was nothing, just a bit of breakfast indigestion, I could go on, it should pass. Looking up into the scoop of Coir nan Laogh, I really didn't want to miss it!
2018-02-04 ben alligin 022.JPG

Panoramic snap from Kevin's camera, showing the ridge of Beinn Alligin, including the Horns:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 033.JPG

Beinn Dearg, Liathach and Beinn Eighe:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 034.JPG

Sgurr Mhor - zoomed:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 035.JPG

Horns zoomed:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 036.JPG

It was surprisingly warm and we had to strip outer layers (kinda mountain porn again :lol: :lol: ). Lower in the corrie the snow was very soft and slushy, so easy going.
Panther with Liathach in the background:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 042.JPG

In the upper corrie, snow was harder and covered with a layer of ice in places, but so far we managed to kick steps in, higher up there was a trail of somebody's footprints which made things easier. But we agreed that on the was down we would have to put crampons on, just as a precaution.
2018-02-04 ben alligin 052.JPG

The views, even though restricted by the vertical walls of the upper corrie, were still amazing. This was winter the proper way, so much better than last year :D
2018-02-04 ben alligin 060.JPG

About 2/3 way up I started to feel wobbly again and slowed down, but we were only some 200m below the summit of Tom na Gruagaich, so turning back now was out of question.
Getting weary:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 066.JPG

Coulin hills from near the top of Tom na Gruagaich:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 069.JPG

Panther struggling:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 073.JPG

Between bad burps and stomach twists, somehow I managed to haul myself to the flattish area around the summit of the first Munro. And surprise: somebody was camping on this top!
2018-02-04 ben alligin 080.JPG

We reached the trig point and immediately put our crampons on, just to be safe on the ridge (the trig is very close to the vertical edge) and busied ourselves with taking photos and videos. I drank some water and my tummy seemed to be settling down. With a fresh layer of snow, the surrounding mountains looked simply stunning and we couldn't resist a lengthy photo-session. A few snaps below.
The west top of Tom, looking pristine in snow:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 090.JPG

The Horns and Beinn Dearg from the summit:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 096.JPG

Thin cloud drifting around Sgurr Mhor:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 097.JPG

Zoom to mighty Slioch:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 101.JPG

Liathach ridge:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 103.JPG

Resting by the trig point:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 108.JPG

Panoramic views of Alligin ridge:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 110.JPG

2018-02-04 ben alligin 112.JPG

2018-02-04 ben alligin 113.JPG

Peaking out from behind the trig:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 125.JPG

Sgurr Mhor and the Horns once again:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 117.JPG

Lucy the Lamb guarding our lunch box:

Having taken enough photos to fill the camera card, we sat down to have something to eat. Kevin said that my temporary stomach problem was probably "because you're eating to little, have a big fat sandwich". He's always paranoid with me getting too thin (actually, I could do with losing a few pounds TBH), but this time he got it wrong, sadly. Sandwiches were made with full fat blue cheese and greasy salami - yuuuuuck, far too much fat obviously. I was going to pay for that!
Having finished our lunch, we carried on to the rocky descent from Tom na Gruagaich. And here real troubles started. The descent is just a mild scramble, maybe a bit more difficult in winter conditions, but we have done it before in both directions, so under normal circumstances we would probably manage, if slowly. We had ice axes at hand and crampons fitted on our boots, but as soon as we started to scramble down the rocks, my stomach went on total strike and suddenly my mouth was full of salami + full fat cheese + stomach acids mixture. Plus I lost my sense of balance. Every time I looked down, my body felt wobbly and unstable. After a couple of near misses when I almost slipped off icy rocks, I said to Kevin, I didn't like it at all. I was scared. Not of the route itself, but of my body failing me. I was thinking, if we continue to Sgurr Mhor, we will have to retrace our steps all the way back to Tom na Gruagaich, including this pitch again - Horns were simply out of question. I was worried I might feel even worse and end up stuck on the ridge. Of course, I might just as well digest all that salami in 10 minutes and feel great for the rest of the day, but I just didn't want to risk it. Kevin was disappointed (he didn't say it but I saw it in his eyes, he was fully committed to the traverse!) but safety always comes first, so we turned around, climbed carefully back to Tom na Gruagaich and started the descent into Coir nan Laogh.

Track_BEN ALLIGIN 04-02-18.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

And here it turned out, the decision was right. Even when descending in crampons on easy snow slope, I was so wobbly now that I staggered, burping and spitting stomach juices all around me :? :? I was praying that the bug stayed in the upper half of my digestive system - so far it hasn't affected the more embarrassing end of my body but it was still a long way down...
Burped off Alligin ridge:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 133.JPG

Because I was so slow, Kevin had plenty of time to take photos when waiting for me...
Liathach in white:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 134.JPG

Big Bald Head and An-Ruadh Stac, Beinn na h-Eaiglaise in the foreground:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 136.JPG

A wider pano:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 137.JPG

I was so paranoid on the descent, that I refused to take crampons off before we reached the end of the snow line. I thought without them I'll simply slip and tumble face-first down the corrie. When we reached the lower slopes and the angle eased off, I felt safer and a little bit better. Still, it took me ages to get back to the car, even with Kevin patiently escorting my burping body down the mountain.
Panoramas from lower reaches of Coir nan Laogh path:
2018-02-04 ben alligin 147.JPG

2018-02-04 ben alligin 148.JPG

It was a disappointing experience in one way, but looking at it from a reasonable point of view, at least I didn't attempt anything stupid and didn't end up being lifted of the mountain... A very special hill which we had done multiple times before and will return to again, as it's one of our favs. This time, the ridge traverse defeated us, with the help of salami burping bug, but from time perspective, we took the right decision. Beinn Alligin will always be there, tomorrow, next week, next year, proudly presenting its Horns, and we can't wait for another opportunity to pay this lovely mountain a visit.
We'll be back!
2018-02-04 ben alligin 149.JPG

Thankfully, the salami burping bug didn't affect me in a long term and by the next weekend, I was all for another mountain adventure. Weather wasn't very cooperative with gale force winds high up, so we decided to stick to lower hills. We had a fantastic day in the area of Loch Ness, exploring Marylins and watching wildlife. TR to come soon.
Last edited by BlackPanther on Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby dogplodder » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:50 pm

Think in the circumstances you did well to do the one. I know the family who have lost the two brothers which, apart from the desperate sadness that has brought, underlines that safety really does come first. These mountains need serious respect - especially in winter.
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:48 pm

Well, considering it was a "failed" trip, it certainly wasn't a failed trip report! Shame you couldn't enjoy it properly, but Kevin seems to have kept busy with the photos!

Anyway, I know numerous people, including myself, who have turned back on this lovely mountain in winter, for one reason or another.

dogplodder wrote: I know the family who have lost the two brothers which, apart from the desperate sadness that has brought, underlines that safety really does come first.

A very sad story indeed, the family must be in pieces. My thoughts have been with them since they went missing, on possibly my favourite hills in the world.
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:56 pm

Despite your health issues you managed to capture some fine photos - I love Torridon in snow.
And kudos to the person camping at the top of Tom na Gruagaich - that's hardcore :lol:
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby malky_c » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:39 pm

All sounds a bit :sick: , and probably very frustrating, but that's some set of photos :D .

Glad I've missed this particular strain of bug - everyone else seems to have had it!
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby ancancha » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:52 pm

At least you got out panther, and got some stunning scenery 8)
Hope you both recover fully, and are back in full hiking mode real soon :wink:
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby dav2930 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:27 pm

I can imagine how frustrated both of you must have felt having to turn back on one of the finest ridge walks in the country on a day like that :( . A real stroke of bad luck; retreat was clearly the only option. But at least you got to the summit of Gruagaich and captured all those fabulous views in your photos. What a stunning place Torridon is. Made for a great report too :clap:
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:33 am

Glad you are feeling better and out and about again. Torridon is so beautiful in the snow and your pictures are great. So frustrating when you have to turn back, we are wondering if we have the courage to try the ridge in winter conditions,
I hope the rest of the season goes well for you!
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:23 pm

A bit unfortunate with the bug, but on the positive side, you surely had fantastic weather and got some excellent pics :clap: :clap: :clap: . Torridon is just wonderful, isn't it???

I felt pretty sympathetic reading about your travails, having gone down with something similar for a couple of weeks after New Year. It seems to have been a bad year for this kind of lurgy.
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Re: Burped off Alligin ridge

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:20 am

Many, many thanks for all kind comments :D Writing the story was a bit of a challenge - I can still taste the half digested salami in my mouth, yuuuck! But at least, I'm fine now, Kevin too, and we have just signed up for the In Pinn this summer, so I must not allow any kind of bug anywhere near me in the future! :lol: :lol:

I think viruses are pretty bad this year, Kevin had one earlier on that totally took his voice away for a few days - he sounded like a desperate drunkard :lol: Hopefully, spring will come soon and wave the bugs away.

Mal Grey wrote: dogplodder wrote:
I know the family who have lost the two brothers which, apart from the desperate sadness that has brought, underlines that safety really does come first.

A very sad story indeed, the family must be in pieces. My thoughts have been with them since they went missing, on possibly my favourite hills in the world.

So are mine. A very sad story indeed. The second brother hasn't been found yet. Weather's been pretty bad recently and all search was hampered. We have been to the Coulin hills many times - twice in full winter conditions. Sgorr Ruadh especially, I recall, was quite tough in deep snow. Just goes to show, that no matter how careful you are, the mountains are always a dangerous place to be. But isn't that the reason why we go there? The magnetic smell of danger?..
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