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Ben Wyvis . A breeze.

Ben Wyvis . A breeze.


Postby Les Deakin » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Wyvis

Date walked: 07/11/2017

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 9 km

Ascent: 800m

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It has taken a while to get round to writing this report. The reason will become obvious..... I had started trying to do all Munros in one year. to achieve this I had bought a van, converted it to a campervan and brought it up to Scotland where it was to stay. I parked it in a small town close to Inverness Airport and flew up from Birmingham. I contacted my Taxi driver who picked me up promptly from the airport and got me to my 'Bus'. After filling it with diesel and doing a bit of shopping Idrove to the bottom of Ben Wyvis, geared up and set off at approximately 3.00 pm. Why start at this time.......to get in as much as I could in the time between flights. Weather report was for gale force winds. I have walked in worse but not recently and not usually when I have advanced knowledge of such bad weather.
I saw two walkers coming off the hill. One told me 'it is a bit breezy'. I asked if it was getting better or worse.The latter. Feeling the pressure of my challenge I continued upwards. I reached the first top with it's conservation shelter and by this stage the wind speeds were upwards of gale becoming severe gale.... Walking across to Wyvis was relatively present but I knew the return was going to be difficult. My navigation notes, which are quite detailed, are on laminated A4 paper were rolled up in my left pocket (as usual). A change of route plan ( ie continuing past Wyvis and descendind further along to the road) might have been a possibility if I had dared get out the mapcase which, of course had the whole of my planned route visible. I returned with some difficulty to the first top where I estimate the wind speed to be storm force at times. I was blown over several times on this journey.
Visibility was also becoming a problem and when I reached the last shelter and I needed to follow the ridge down, I decided to hunker down in the shelter, check the baring I needed, then set the compass. I had to stow my poles in the sack as one hand was holding the compass and the other was being used to hold my headtorch on. Yes it was on tight!
The next ten minutes or so were a bit scary. People that know me will tell you I don't scare easily. Leaning forwards and left into the wind I managed to follow the path to the well built steps which zigzag down from the top. I went down several more times and on one occasion was airborn. I landed on my left shoulder which still aches now.
When I had descended a couple of hundred feet I was able to use both poles again and I spent the rest of the walk convincing myself that what I had just done was OK.
My plan for day 2 had been 'The Glen Affric 5'. That's the heading on the Nav sheet! Since the forecast for the next day was not dissimilar I decided to drive down to Glen Shiel and do something a bit easier. I decide to try and pick off just one Munro so I was not battling high winds along a ridge again. Ciste Dubh was my choice which would have shortened a future day when doing the Glen Shiel North Ridge. It was windy walking up the valley but two beautiful rainbows formed as the drizzle was blown along the valley. Everything was fine.....
About one hour up the valley I regained my sanity. Looking up at the summit I was about to ascend I thought about the wind and decided against any hills at all that day.
My problem had been that I was booking plane flights in advance to make it cheaper but that meant taking pot luck with the weather. To get all 284 done in a year I had chunked it into about 19 trips. Walking and climbing in poor weather is unpleasant and can be dangerous.
We all assess risk every day of our lives. These assessments should not be unduly influenced by extraneous factors. I think I am good at assessing risk when walking and climbing but I had got it wrong. The necessity of doing a certain number of hills in a given period had unduly affected my judgement.
If you have had the patience to read this you will have worked out that it was embarrassment that prevented me from writing this earlier. I now have a new plan. I will do all the Munros over the next five years and am driving up not flying so I can come when the weather is better.

Cheers and safe climbing, Les
Last edited by Les Deakin on Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Les Deakin
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Re: Ben Wyvis, a breeze!

Postby Sunset tripper » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:52 pm

Great read Les and great that you wrote down your experience for others to read.
All the best. :D
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Re: Ben Wyvis, a breeze!

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:17 pm

I'm wildly impressed that you set a goal of doing all the Munros in a year! As Steve Kew says in "Walking the Munros", "...that's a lot of cheeze sandwiches"!!! And it means, on average over 5 Munros per week :roll: :roll: :roll: :shock:

Having very recently and for pretty well the first time experienced winds in which I was actually blown off balance, I'm also very impressed that you kept going. It is indeed quite unnerving to find that you literally cannot keep your feet!
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