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Slow in the snow

Slow in the snow

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:41 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Odhar Bheag, Cruach Innse, Sgùrr Innse

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Dubh

Date walked: 03/02/2019

Time taken: 15.75 hours

Distance: 34.9 km

Ascent: 2797m

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The forecast for this weekend looked quite promising - cold but bright. With a bit of luck we could bag 6 Corbetts over the weekend - the Innises, Beinn odhar Bheag/Mhic Cedidh and Geal Charn/Meall na h-Eilde. We'd travel up to Loch Linnhe again and brave the worst of the cold. Leaving on Thursday after Allison finished work we were soon to realise just how cold. Driving through Glen Coe at around 7pm the car was reading -8.5 degrees, the windscreen skooshers packed in making keeping an eye out for the inevitable deer at the side of the road harder than ever. There were still quite a number of headtorch lights high up on the ridges, mind you - a hardy lot those :crazy:

When we arrived at Loch Linnhe it was a balmy -3 degrees - we found a spot clear of snow to pitch in and settled down for the night, having remembered to bring the requisite number of sleeping bags this week. Friday broke clear and crisp, the temperature as we drove to Spean Bridge -6. The track up past Choirechoille was smoother than usual due to the puddles being frozen over. We set off up the Lairig - the wee meenister sporting a new hairdo as we passed. An ATV and a number of walkers had been along the day before - we were hoping someone might have been going up the Innises and left a track, but the footprints all headed up to the Grey Corries. Snow was soft and powdery, with crystals of hoar frost on the branches of the pines and spicules of ice in the footprints.

Aonach Mor
ImageP2010101 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2010102 by Al, on Flickr

The wee meenister (or maybe he's changed profession to "wee judge")
ImageP2010103 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2010106 by Al, on Flickr

We crossed the bridge then left the track and set off up the hillside. The snow was maybe 6 inches deep, of a consistency that snowshoes wouldn't really help with. We waded laboriously up the slopes of Cruach Innise which sat before us pretty as a picture until the mist came down and rendered everything into white haze. The summit was reached, Allison feeling the strain of wading through the snow. I remembered the section down to Bealach na Cruaiche as being quite craggy, as indeed it was - we paused for lunch before tackling this.

Cruach Innise
ImageP2010107 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2010108 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2010109 by Al, on Flickr

Hazy valley
ImageP2010110 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Innise
ImageP2010114 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Innise loomed up ahead out of the clearing mist steep and snowy - although nothing compared to Stob Coire nan Ceannan across the valley. I fondly remembered how we'd tackled that mountain after doing the Innises on the last occasion. Crossing over the bealach meant more snow wading before we got to the rockier form of Sgurr Innise. I took a line somewhat to the east of the WH route which offered less troublesome snow and the summit was reached surprisingly quickly. On a more ambitious day we might have tried to tag on Stob Ban, which rose to the south, but not in today's conditions. We tracked back down to the bealach, noting that the deer tracks heading for the Lairig followed pretty much precisely the route we had plotted. Clever deer these. Back on the track I was discombobulated to find it was snowing, and snowing heavily. That hadn't been in the forecast. I became a little anxious about the drive out as a good 2-3 inches of fresh snow were lying on the track. Fortunately it wasn't too bad, but I did have to take the road back along to Spean Bridge cautiously.

Stob Ban
ImageP2010117 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2010118 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2010119 by Al, on Flickr

Three lengths of horn
ImageP2010120 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2010121 by Al, on Flickr

Back at the campsite it was time to warm up with a hot shower and get the tea on. We were dismayed to find a couple of mobile homes had parked just above where we were pitched and the occupants of one of these monstrosities were irritatingly noisy. I generally think that mobile homes are driven by the aged, but these were two youngish lads. When we heard them heading off to the highspots of Corpach around 7pm I decided we'd move the tent to another part of the camping area. This was not to Allison's liking as she was snuggled up in bed, but it had to be done and she did eventually heat up again. We had a quieter night as a result, although it was very very cold. The container of water that I'd put inside the insulated bag had frozen. The gas wouldn't light at breakfast and I had to resort to warming one gas canister over the other feeble burner to get it going at all.

It was, however, a beautiful morning. Deciding that Beinn Odhar Bheag and Beinn Mhic Cedidh were on for today we drove along past Glenfinnan to the parking area by the railway crossing. -8 degrees. I decided I'd keep my belay jacket on, which wasn't the brightest idea given how much effort was about to be expended, with a resultant increase in body temperature, whatever the outside temp. There wasn't a breath of wind. I remembered these hills as being tough when done last time (in summer) and did wonder if I'd made a wise choice when we started over the tussocky ground with 1-2feet of snow on top. A lot more snow than the day before, certainly. Man it was hard work getting anywhere. The hillside was rough and craggy making life that little bit harder still. But it was such a pretty day - as we gained height (very slowly) Rum and Skye came into view, white as white.

ImageP2020123 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2020125 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2020126 by Al, on Flickr

Rum & Skye in the distance
ImageP2020128 by Al, on Flickr

After what seemed like at least a lifetime we'd got to around 600m and stopped for lunch. Endless soft snow ahead of us - but at least we'd be in the sunshine, having been labouring in the mountain's shadow up til then. More soft snow, with occasional rocky relief led us to the summit of Beinn Odhar Mhor by around 1pm. It was evident that we were not going to be able to complete the circuit as we were managing to travel at 1km per hour thus far - which would mean getting back to the car at around 2am :roll: I was on the point of considering just turning back now, as the peak of Beinn Odhar Bheag (which is, of course, the Corbett being 12m taller than Beinn Odhar Mhor) was at least 1.5km away over rough and undulating ground. But Allison was determined to make it over. I said that we'd be turning around at 2pm, regardless of where we'd gotten to. I set off ahead, scurrying round some craggy sections before reaching the final bealach before the summit climb. I decided to remove rucksack at this point and just proceed with my ice axe, primarily because I didn't want to be seduced into the possibility of continuing on to the tantalizingly nearby summit of Beinn Mhic Cedidh, a mere 2km and 250m re-ascent away. Getting up there was one thing, but I had memories of the descent along the northern spine of Mhic Cedidh being interrupted by numerous crags and taking a long time to get down - the alternative of returning to Bealach a'Choire Bhuidhe also seemed unwise in the deep snowy conditions. No, we'd trace our steps back the way we'd come.

ImageP2020129 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Odhar Bheag
ImageP2020133 by Al, on Flickr

The summit permitted fine views down to Loch Sheil and over a vast panoply of white, snowy mountains. Allison finally caught up with me, looking a bit trauchled. It was five minutes to two, my turn around time. So we did - took 45 minutes to regain Beinn Odhar Mhor, with quite a bit of re-ascent, then the descent back to the car took little more than an hour. Amazing the difference that gravity and a track in the snow can make - I thought about all the effort that had gone into making that track.

Loch Sheil
ImageP2020136 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2020139 by Al, on Flickr

The Ben is White
ImageP2020140 by Al, on Flickr

Here she comes
ImageP2020141 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2020143 by Al, on Flickr

The Ben, from Loch Linnhe
ImageP2020144 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2020146 by Al, on Flickr

We returned to the campsite and checked the forecast for Sunday. A change in the weather - snow and rain along with high winds. I felt uncomfortable with the idea of driving over a possibly snow-bound Rannoch Moor in the dark, which coupled with the lack of nearby quick Corbetts made me decide to head south tomorrow morning and do something nearer to home. It started to snow in the evening intermittently then to rain heavily in the early hours. Not as cold as the night before. we headed down the road, encountering long snowy sections through Glencoe until Tyndrum, not very pleasant driving. I thought we might climb Beinn Dubh by Luss, guessing that the snow wouldn't be too bad as far south as that. We parked by the school in Luss and set off across the bridge over the road - the grass was green, not white.

The ground on the hillside was frozen underfoot although much of the snow had melted or been washed away. A number of other walkers were out enjoying the views of Loch Lomond. A steady ascent up tot he top of Beinn Dubh where the wind was beginning to get strong and cold, necessitating a change to warmer gloves for me. Then onwards over a couple of kilometres of normally boggy but currently frozen solid hillside to the Graham summit of Mid Hill. We took the standard route down the south east shoulder and arrived at the top of Glen Luss, with a pleasant walk down the tarmac road back to Luss village. Looking at my records I note that we did this hill exactly 2 years ago, on 3rd Feb 2017 - what are the chances of that?

ImageP2030147 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2030149 by Al, on Flickr

Mid Hill from Beinn Dubh
ImageP2030150 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2030152 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP2030153 by Al, on Flickr
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Hill Bagger
Posts: 2084
Munros:262   Corbetts:127
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Re: Slow in the snow

Postby prog99 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:48 pm

Good stuff, saturday was an absolute belter.
You'd have been fine with the roads today as the freezing level shot up pretty quickly and it was all a bit soggy below 600m.
Really recommend a pair of decathlon snowshoes for unconsolidated stuff (and bogs!).
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Re: Slow in the snow

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Feb 04, 2019 12:06 am

prog99 wrote:Good stuff, saturday was an absolute belter.
You'd have been fine with the roads today as the freezing level shot up pretty quickly and it was all a bit soggy below 600m.
Really recommend a pair of decathlon snowshoes for unconsolidated stuff (and bogs!).

Yes, Saturday was a very fine day, although getting anywhere was not easy...

We do have snowshoes - even remembered to put them in the car. It's always a question of whether they're worth the hassle of attaching to the rucksacks. Wouldn't have helped on friday up the Innises as it was powder and steep, but they would have been useful on Saturday, I'll grant you.
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Posts: 2084
Munros:262   Corbetts:127
Grahams:148   Donalds:86
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
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Location: Greenock

Re: Slow in the snow

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:51 am

We considered doing Stob Ban on Saturday but chickened out, worried about the Choirechoille track. Went to Glen Coe instead :) At least we didn't have to break fresh trail :lol:

On the way down somewhere on A82 between Spean Bridge and Fort William we recorded -11*C. That's proper winter, hopefully the white stuff stays a bit longer, even if it means hard work on less popular routes...
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