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Beinns a'Chreachain, Achaladair & Mhanach - lesson learned
by rockhopper » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:56 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chreachain, Beinn Achaladair, Beinn Mhanach
Date walked: 27/11/2010
Time taken: 11.6 hours
Distance: 28.4 km
Ascent: 2062m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I got ready and headed off NE along the Water of Tulla to allow me to approach Beinn a Chreachain from the North. There wasn’t much wind but it was very cold and my Camelbak water tube froze quite quickly which meant that I had to pull off the mouthpiece and bend and twist the tube to get a drink. There were two places on the track where I had some tricky water crossings before getting to the bridge close to the ruin at Barravourich.
From there the path was straightforward if a bit slippy and snowy and it wasn’t long before I reached the bridge over the Water of Tulla at 353469. I crossed the bridge, skirted the trees and went through the underpass below the railway line – it’s very low and I had to bend almost double to avoid having to remove my rucksack. I then headed SE over a mix of open ground and near to the edge of the trees. The views of the hills were opening up in front of me and behind the views over Rannoch Moor were developing. The track follows close to a fence line and the Allt Coire an Lochain up the hillside before disappearing when I got into higher open ground. I wanted to approach Beinn a Chreachain from slightly SW of the 961m top and so headed up until I was almost at Lochain a Chreachain.
By this time I was finding walking in the snow increasingly difficult without slipping over so I stopped to put on my crampons; from there it was a straightforward climb up initially east towards the 961m top then SE to the ridge. The snow surface varied from being crusty/icy to soft/crumbly and I had to try not to put my feet half on/half off to avoid going over on my ankle. I had to be careful as I walked up the ridge SW towards the summit as there was cloud/mist obscuring the view and I was conscious of the drops to the side.
I got to the cairn and still couldn’t see anything in the cloud so walked SE a little to try to get views of the surrounding hills but gave up and headed off towards Meall Buidhe en route to Beinn Achaladair.
It was easy going with crampons and there was enough snow on the beallach just before the start of the rise up to Beinn Achaladair not to have to remove them.
There were nice views of the steep NE side at this point.
I did see one other walker coming down but he was slightly further to the south as I picked a route up through the rocks.
On arriving at the cairn there were nice views over Rannoch Moor although they were partially obscured by the cloud.
I walked SW a little to get a better view over Loch Tulla before going back almost to the cairn and then descending SSE down Coire nan Clach towards the beallach below Beinn a Chuirn before starting up Beinn Mhanach.
The initial descent was fine but I found the latter part towards the beallach harder going; the tufts of grass meant I was going over on my ankles quite a lot.
From the beallach I headed east round Beinn a Chuirn. It was initially steep then flattened out before the final walk up to the summit.
Unfortunately the cloud/mist rolled in once again and I had no views from the summit of Beinn Mhanach.
Now time to head home and I started down Beinn Mhanach initially following the line of the fence for part of the way. I intended to go back down to the beallach and then go SW to get above the crags at the edge of Coire a Ghabhalach so that I could then go down into Coire Daingean then into Coire Achaladair. However, I came round Beinn a Chuirn too tightly ending up much lower down than planned on the track which eventually leads to Auch. I did consider exiting via Coire a Ghabhalach and Coire an Dothaidh but that would have meant a long walk back up the side of the road to the car.
So, I went in a westerly direction up the hillside to get under the crags at eastern edge of Coire a Ghabhalach. I had planned to come down Coire Daingean very late in the afternoon but getting to the edge took longer than I thought and it started to get dark when I was about 100 – 150m below the top. At that point, I took out my headtorch and main hand torch (leaving a spare second hand torch in my rucksack) and my Vodafone mobile phone which I brought specifically for the hills (following Vodafone advice from mc). I was going to phone my wife and tell her I would be coming off the hill by torchlight and not to worry but the phone would not switch on. I can only assume that it had been affected by the cold as it had been just inside the top pocket in my rucksack all day – I think it was around -7 Celsius back at the car so probably colder in the hills.
I climbed up through the crags, then over into Coire Daingean and down via Coire Achaladair; this also took longer than it would during the day time as I couldn’t see any track in the darkness and had to follow close to the stream down the hill. Further down I could see flashing lights in the distance but assumed they were something to do with the snow. When I got down to the car park, I met a police officer who told me that he had been called out to investigate a report of people shouting in the hills; I was then horrified and very embarrassed when he told me he had subsequently received a call from my wife to say that that she had not heard from me and had expected me down off the hills by then. I hadn’t heard any shouting on my route though.
I did take some comfort from the fact that he had not been called out initially for me. However, it was very embarrassing and I’ve learned a big lesson - in future I plan to keep the phone switched on, call or text on and off during the day on my progress and get an insulated, waterproof container for the phone.
I must point out how impressed I was with the police officer and how he dealt with the situation in such a courteous and helpful way. I am sure that if I had been him I would have wanted to give me a “ticking off” at the very least but he told me he was just doing his job.
I then headed off back to Glasgow for my dinner - in all, I must have been out for nearly 12 hours.
by dan_the_dingo » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:23 pm
I reckon that would have been me you saw Helloo
I was only on Beinn Achaladair and Beinn a'Chreachain though, well impressed you did Beinn Mhanach too.
Views were excellent, your late afternoon photos are brilliant, I'll try and attach one of mine....
I did see a head torch as I arrived back at Achallader farm but it was at the bottom of the crags of Beinn an Dothaidh so was more likely one of the teams climbing there than you. Leaving your phone on all day may run the battery flat in short order if there is no signal, I know I had no orange network at Achalader farm so I'd switched it off to save the battery in case I needed it.
by Graeme D » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:57 pm
by Stretch » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:04 pm
by Merry-walker » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:24 pm
by HighlandSC » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:34 pm
Glad the blip near the end was only minor. As good as Vodafone is there's plenty hill areas it doesn't get a signal - I have one (not sure how much you plan on relying on those calls/texts). Obviously the phone needs to switch on before you worry about signal though! I carry mine in a beachbuoy pouch around my neck and inside my jacket most of the time- something like that should keep it warmer if that's why it wont switch on?
by dooterbang » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:39 pm
Great report and brilliant photos.
Epic day for you, and solo...well done
by malky_c » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:46 pm
Took me back nicely to a winter traverse of the four (minus Beinn Mhanach) back in 2003 - a similarly great day out. Interesting route choice you went for, and quite an undertaking for the conditions
Like HSC says, keeping your phone close to your body is probably the best thing to stop it from packing up. I usually forget, and find the cold temporarily kills the battery.
by rockhopper » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:11 pm
dan_the_dingo: lovely picture you have there; my phone was fully charged and should've put it somewhere warmer and tried it half an hour later but I wasn't thinking it would be an issue; will know for the next time; you were certainly moving fast when I saw you !
Graeme, Stretch & Merry-walker: I think the next few will be shorter though so that I can take more time to enjoy the views and experience even more !
HighlandSC: the pouch looks a good idea and am looking into it
dooterbang : didn't have my binoculars with me to see you on the other side of the A82; yours was a brilliant report
malky_c : chose this route as I thought it would give good views of a'Chreachain and Achaladair; plan to insulate the phone in future but would prefer not to have to use it !
by Alastair S » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:56 pm
I never have my phone switched on until I need it and definitely wouldn't recommend it in case you ever do need to call out. You'd be surprised how much battery you use under those circumstances - I used all my battery on the call out I had to do and the phone had been switched off all day. Just there's so much phoning to and fro to do! I've resolved never to use my phone for anything or have it switched on at all on the day of a walk and I'm always going to charge it the night before a walk too, even if it says it's full!
- mountain coward
by Scotjamie » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:15 am
by HighlandSC » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:52 am
mountain coward wrote:I've resolved never to use my phone for anything or have it switched on at all on the day of a walk and I'm always going to charge it the night before a walk too, even if it says it's full!
I got a couple of cheapo spare batteries for a few pound off ebay. They work as good as the original battery. It's nice to know they're in my bag if ever needed.
by kevsbald » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:33 am
by potace » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:45 am