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Winter arrives in Perthshire

Winter arrives in Perthshire

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:24 am

Munros included on this walk: An Stùc, Beinn Dearg (Blair Atholl), Bràigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, Càrn a' Chlamain, Càrn Liath (Beinn a' Ghlò), Càrn nan Gabhar, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhonach

Date walked: 28/10/2018

Time taken: 25.5 hours

Distance: 79.5 km

Ascent: 4575m

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Last week I asked in my report that there be no rain for a change when we were out this weekend. Well, my wish was granted - no rain (at least during the hours we were on the hills) but in recompense, we got arctic temperatures, blizzards and gale force winds. I think I'm still happy with the deal overall.

Our target this week was that pair of awkward Munros lying around Blair Atholl, Beinn Dearg and Carn a'Chlamain. Having decided to finish on Schiehallion but still having Beinn Bhuidhe in Argyll to capture, we'd have to leave Allison's completion til next weekend. So we'd have free rein to climb whatever other Munros we fancied in the general area. We'd previously combined the Blair Atholl hills with An Sgarsoch & Carn an Fhidhleir, along with the Corbett Beinn Bhreac - this time I wanted to add in some Simms rather than the northern Munros. A walk-in to Schneicheachan bothy on Thursday night to facilitate Beinn Dearg the following morning, then a traipse over the intervening hills, including Beinn Mheadhonach to end up on Carn a'Chlamain with a walk back down by the River Tilt was the plan. I was a little sketchy about where we'd end up on the second night, but something would sort itself out, I was sure.

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Easy drive up, arrived in the dark, had our soup and sandwich in the car (mmmm homemade mushroom soup) and prepared to set off. I do like setting out in the evening, a real sense of adventure, especially going out into the dark night. The early section, through the woods with all the golden leaves underfoot, was delightful. Then onto open track, cold wind blowing rain in our faces. After some time the moon rose from behind the hills on our right and sparkled light into the night sky. This was of particular assistance to Allison, who'd been using up the remnants of power in her headtorch batteries before she changed them and could see virtually nothing of the path in front of her. After a couple of hours we made it to the bothy - this was the first bothy we'd ever slept in, back in April 2014. Tonight there were no other inhabitants, we made ourselves a coffee in the main room then decided to creep upstairs to sleep, partly cos we'd done that last time, but also in case some late arrivals showed up and disturbed our rest. I thought it unlikely that there'd be anyone else tonight after 10pm, although the bothy book had mention of people arriving after midnight.

ImageP1200894 by Al, on Flickr

Moon arise
ImageP1200895 by Al, on Flickr

As it transpired no-one else did arrive. Quite a chilly night up in the rafters and no natural light gets in up there, so it would be easy to oversleep. We breakfasted downstairs, an eagle soared by over to the east before the sky darkened and the first of many snow showers began. We could see the hills up ahead looking white and encountered proper snow from about 700m. The wind was pretty fierce and it took quite an effort to lug ourselves up the zigzag path to Beinn Dearg's summit. From here my plan was to follow the curve of the mountain round to the northeast, over Elrig 'ic an Toisich then head south onto Beinn Mheadhonach. This proved more of a challenge than I'd anticipated due to snow drifts and poor visibility. Neither of us had put in gaiters, so the spindrift found its way up our trouserlegs. We did remember to put our goggles in, which proved invaluable both to protect eyes/faces from the biting wind and to give us some visibility in the blizzards.

ImageP1200896 by Al, on Flickr

On the way to Beinn Dearg
ImageP1200898 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Dearg
ImageP1200900 by Al, on Flickr

Look - proper snow!!
ImageP1200901 by Al, on Flickr

We surprised a small herd of deer in a sheltered spot before we reached the northern slopes of Beinn Mheadhonach - bet they were displeased to have to leave their sheltered nook in the blizzard because some bloody humans had showed up. Onwards and upwards - we made the summit and achieved our now regular weekly Corbett around lunchtime. I had routed us to continue south to the southern end of Beinn Mheadhonach where there's a bridge over the Allt Mhairc, but this was going to involve en extra 4 or 5km compared to just heading east down into Gleann Mhairc. We'd crossed the river there before, on our last visit, so I reckoned we'd be fine. And indeed we were. A bit of a slog uphill to the Simm of Braigh nan Creagan Breac, where conditions deteriorated sharply. We were now walking straight into the wind/blizzard which was exhausting and disorientating. I had intended to make for Braigh Sron Gorm, involving 4km round trip, but this was abandoned due to the conditions - we got to the top of Aonach na Cloiche Mhoir and turned east to begin ascending Carn a'Chlamain. The map suggests there's a good track, but this wasn't in evidence and we trudged through wind and snow to make the summit.

Beinn Mheadhoinach
ImageP1200905 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200907 by Al, on Flickr

Looking across Gleann Mhairc to Braigh nan Creagan Breac
ImageP1200908 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200909 by Al, on Flickr

More blizzard on the way
ImageP1200910 by Al, on Flickr

Carn a'Chlamain
ImageP1200911 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200912 by Al, on Flickr

View over to the Beinn a'Ghlo hills
ImageP1200913 by Al, on Flickr

The two additional Simms I had hoped to reach, out to the east of Chlamain were also sacrificed due to the weather being ferocious and we began our descent by the standard route down from Carn a'Chlamain into Glen Tilt. Miraclously we returned into Autumn from the heart of winter. We kept to the drive past Marble Lodge then switched over to the west side of the river at Gilbert's Bridge. Looking for a spot to camp, we ended up using some nice flat grass at the southern end of the firing range (finished shooting for the year, now). We could have walked the 2 or 3km back to the car, but we'd then have been looking for a camp spot in the dark and besides, I was keen to test out my newest tent in a bit of wind. And wind we got - for most of the night. That wasn't all - a fair helping of snow too, despite being at only 270m. But the tent performed very well in the wind.

ImageP1200914 by Al, on Flickr

The deep ravine of Glen Tilt
ImageP1200915 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200917 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200919 by Al, on Flickr

Back to Autumn
ImageP1200921 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200922 by Al, on Flickr

In the morning we wakened to sunshine and snow, ate a hasty breakfast and packed up for the short walk back to the car. We arrived there at 9.30 and struggled to get the car doors open (frozen shut). Beinn a'Ghlo seemed a reasonable next step - I toyed with the idea of trying to add on Beinn Vurich (nope - way too long for this time of year). We arrived at the parking spot at Monzie - the first car there, which was something of a surprise, although several other cars arrived whilst we were getting prepared to set off, switching rucksacks and the like. It felt really cold, though the sky was blue. Three times I've gone round Beinn a'Ghlo clockwise - this time I reckoned we should do it in the opposite direction. So we passed by Carn Liath and kept on the track for Airgiod Bheinn, which is such a shapely hill that it seems only but fair to climb it (note - it's easier to climb up than descend it). It seemed to be taking a very long time to get anywhere - we stopped for lunch before starting up Airgiod Bheinn.

Morning snow
ImageP1200925 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200926 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Liath
ImageP1200928 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Airgiod Bheinn
ImageP1200929 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200930 by Al, on Flickr

As we started climbing the wind became ever stronger. The goggles which had proved invaluable yesterday had fogged up inside and were not clearing in the extreme wind chill - so we had a choice of wearing them and not being able to see very much or not wearing them and having our eyeballs frozen. It was very blowy at the rocky summit of the Munro Top. Next came a lot of walking over boulder fields to get to Carn nan Gabhar - not easy in the snow and blasting wind. Allison in particular was taking a while, due to not wanting to slip and damage her back. We got to the summit shortly behind three guys we'd spoken to in the car park - I was mystified to see them continue off to the north of the summit. No idea where they were headed at all. And not a day to try and find out.

Summit Airgiod Bheinn
ImageP1200931 by Al, on Flickr

Taking refuge from the wind on Carn nan Gabhar
ImageP1200932 by Al, on Flickr

Descending towards Braigh Coire Cruinn-Bhalgain
ImageP1200933 by Al, on Flickr

We headed down to Bealach an Fhiodha with the wind continuing to blast and spindrift making vision poor. I was tempted to call it a day and head back the way we'd come - I was getting a bit concerned about time as it was now around 3pm and we still had two Munros to do. Getting up onto Braigh Coire Cruinn-Bhalgain was a real trial. Winds were at their maximum as we went up the side of the hill towards the 993m point - I was blown completely off my feet twice, and progress was only possible by hunching double and scuttling in short bursts. I shouted to Allison what did she want to do - she didn't know, so we kept on, reckoning that the wind would drop once we got over the lip of the slope, which it did to some extent. The main thrust of the wind was behind us now and it eased off after we passed the summit of Coire-bhalgain. Quarter to four and only the long slope of Carn Liath now lay ahead of us. Steady walking, adjust for the off wind blast then to the summit cairn. On the descent we noticed how much work they've done on the hill-path since we last visited a year ago. Still got the boggy section to cross before reaching the hut, but it looks like they may be going to address that too. A short walk back to the car - yes, I think an anti-clockwise round is preferable for these hills.

Summit Braigh Coire Cruinn-Bhalgain
ImageP1200934 by Al, on Flickr

Curve of Carn Liath
ImageP1200935 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200936 by Al, on Flickr

Fungus of the week
ImageP1200937 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200938 by Al, on Flickr

It was now coming up for 6pm and getting dark, with rain or snow threatening. What would we do tomorrow? Maybe the Drumochter hills, but that would mean driving north. Maybe the eastern Lawers three - although I was a little worried about what getting up An Stuc would be like in these conditions without winter kit. In the end we decided to camp where we were - there's some adequately flat grass behind the parking place, although molehills provide something of a challenge. Got pitched just before the rain began - another cold night. I had a headahce, probably from the wind in my face/glare from the snow, so didn't get much of a sleep - the nearby farm dogs barking didn't help either. In the morning the tent was frozen solid, the pegs and guys fused to the ground and once again the car iced shut. But it looked a beautiful morning.

We'd decided to do the Lawers 3 and drove down to park at the Lawers Hotel, who have instituted a £5 car parking charge for walkers since we were last there. Suppose that's fair enough as the parking spaces have been reduced by the adjacent house's driveway. What a fine sunny morning! We took the standard WH route, heading to Meall Greigh first. Although the hills were white capped, there seemed less snow here than there had been in Blair Atholl. Through the woods and across the meadows then up, up the back of Sron Mhor until the summit of Greigh was reached. Very little wind today and warm in the sunshine. Looking north, it was plain that the northeastern hills had got much more snow than those in the west.

An Stuc and Meall Garbh
ImageP1200943 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200945 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Tay
ImageP1200946 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Meall Greigh
ImageP1200947 by Al, on Flickr

We continued on to Meall Garbh, meeting a few folk coming in the opposite direction. The bogs were at least semi-frozen underfoot. We stood at the summit of Meall Garbh, amid feilds of ice-flowers looking over at An Stuc. There didn't look to be more than a dusting of snow, and given the numbers of folk who'd descended it we should be ok going up. At the start it was fine, then Allison chose a route less travelled and it was a little hairy without ice axe, knowing a slip would be quite painful. I became a bit tetchy, but we got to the summit in one piece then set about descending from Bealach Dubh. This was also quite steep, but fortunately not icy. Then the long boggy walk along the southern side of Lochan nan Cat to the dam and thence back to the car.

Meall Garbh
ImageP1200949 by Al, on Flickr

An Stuc
ImageP1200951 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200953 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200955 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200956 by Al, on Flickr

Looking Northwest
ImageP1200957 by Al, on Flickr

Lochan nan Cat
ImageP1200958 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200959 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200960 by Al, on Flickr
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Re: Winter arrives in Perthshire

Postby prog99 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:18 pm

No sign at all of your tracks on Beinn a Ghlo yesterday and more snow too.
Good weekend for being out.
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Re: Winter arrives in Perthshire

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:57 pm

I felt chilly just reading this, even on that fine last day! You obviously have a good sac and mattress combination!
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Re: Winter arrives in Perthshire

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:57 pm

Good stuff ..was working this weekend missed the good days on the hills and enjoyed them on the shore instead ;)
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Re: Winter arrives in Perthshire

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:07 pm

We did Cruach Ardrain - Beinn Tulaichean northern route on Sunday and there was hardly any snow, even on the highest tops! The bogs were frozen solid in the morning, but higher up, just a dusting.
To the contrary, Ben Wyvis was all white down to 400m. I think the eastern front got all the snow :wink: Hopefully there's still some white stuff left for the upcoming meet :D
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