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Mr Frost will see you now

Mr Frost will see you now

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:00 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ciste Dhubh

Corbetts included on this walk: Am Bathach, Beinn Bhreac-liath, Beinn Udlaidh, Druim Tarsuinn, Sgùrr Ghiubhsachain

Date walked: 01/12/2019

Distance: 49 km

Ascent: 3288m

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Having spent the last couple of weeks under the weather with some pneumonic plague or other, it was nice to be feeling a bit fitter again and able to take on the challenge of nabbing some of Allison's remaining Corbetts on a fine weather weekend. She had five west coast ones left to do, which seemed a good use to put the weekend to. Beinn Breac-Liath and Beinn Udlaidh in Glen Orchy; Sgurr Ghuibsachain and Druim Tarsuinn at Callops and Am Bathach up in Kintail.

We headed off into the cold darkness of Thursday night, aiming to camp near the start of the Glen Orchy pair. We haven't camped in Glen Orchy before, though had scoped out possible sites on our last visit. We found a well-used spot by the river and set up tent under the stars. We sat in the dark eating our tea, dangling legs over the edge of the riverbank and knowing we'd be in for a cold night. Virtually no traffic down the glen overnight, not a breeze, so lots of condensation on the tent in the morning. We breakfasted by the car, got our things together and set off under a pink-tinged sky for Beinn Breac-Liath.

Beinn Udlaidh
ImageDSC02449 by Al, on Flickr

There's a new track from the gate, but it soon ends up in boggy mire. We cut up the hillside, a bit later than we were meant to (following the WH route anyway) and slowly gained height on frozen tussocks. Beinn Dorain rose impressively across the road; to the southwest were Stob Gobhar then the pointy cluster of Cruachan/Beinn Daimh. A fine morning to be out on the hills. A new deer fence was climbed and the summit of Breac-Liath eventually gained. We set off for the bealach with Beinn Udlaidh enjoying unbroken views of the Crianlarich hills. Paused for lunch at the fence line crossing the bealach then set off up the faint path to Beinn Udlaidh. As we neared the summit we saw another walker heading away from the top, although we didn't catch up with them or even see them on the way down. We followed the quartzite vein down to the trees and returned to the car with the cobwebs swept away. If only every weekend day could be like this over the winter - dry, crisp and beautiful.

View north up Glen Orchy
ImageDSC02451 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Dorain
ImageDSC02453 by Al, on Flickr

Cruachan hills
ImageDSC02455 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02456 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Breac-Liath
ImageDSC02458 by Al, on Flickr

The way to Udlaidh
ImageDSC02459 by Al, on Flickr

Ben More & friends
ImageDSC02460 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Udlaidh
ImageDSC02463 by Al, on Flickr

Looking north
ImageDSC02465 by Al, on Flickr

Heading down the quarzite seam
ImageDSC02466 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02467 by Al, on Flickr

After pulling off our boots it was time to drive up to Ardgour. I'd thought it might be nice to use a campsite and avail ourselves of a hot shower, so we drove into Loch Linnhe and I went to reception - only to be told they were closed (Novermber to mid-December) but we were very welcome to stay free of charge. The toilet/shower block was closed however. So we pitched along in the usual spot we use for one-nighters and cooked tea before the light faded completely. It was going to be another cold night...

Oh yes, -2.5 when we got up at the unreasonable hour of 6.15, knowing that we'd have a long walk to do the Callops Corbetts and would need to maximize the daylight. We packed the frozen tent away and drove along to Callops in the dark, -5 degrees when we got there, all the trees coated with frost. It felt bitterly cold indeed, but the day promised to be a good one. We marched along the track, leaving a cloud inversion behind us that stretched the length of Loch Eil. The track along to Cona Glen, usually a bogfest, was frozen solid - although sheet ice presented its own problems for perambulation. We didn't need Sgorr Craobh a'Chaorainn, which we'd done with a Marilyn a couple of years back. I'd intended to do Druim Tarsuinn first, but when we reached the split in the track and confronted by beautiful, warm golden sunshine spreading up the flanks of Sgurr Ghuibhsachain and the kingdom of hoar frost to be crossed in pursuit of Druim Tarsuinn, the choice was easy :lol:

Misty morning at Callops
ImageDSC02470 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02471 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02473 by Al, on Flickr

Glenfinnan hills
ImageDSC02475 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02476 by Al, on Flickr

Golden sunshine to Ghuibhsachain...
ImageDSC02477 by Al, on Flickr

...or kingdom of the frost lord to Druim Tarsuinn
ImageDSC02478 by Al, on Flickr

We progressed steadily up the flanks of Ghuibhsaahain, sending some hinds running. The back of the hill reached, it was time to pick a line up the rocky cone to the summit - an enterprise given some zest by the presence of ice on many of the rocks. The top offered great views including a white topped Ben. We headed off towards Meall nan Creag Leac, stopping for lunch high above Loch Shiel. I'm quite keen to climb this hill from the track along Loch Shiel, which would take in the Simm of Meall a'Choire Chruinn - looks an interesting scramble up the NW shoulder. Anyhows, we continued on, following the fence line down to Bealach Scamodale then up again to Druim Tarsuinn. It was quarter past two when we reached the summit, which should leave us sufficient time to get back to the car in the light, I thought. The way back is lengthy however, not so much the descent into Cona Glen, but the irritation of having to regain height from the Cona River back up to the track (to lose it all again, of course). By the time we reached the buildings at Callops it had just gone 5pm, the light fading, but revealing the beautiful rime covered tree branches.

ImageDSC02479 by Al, on Flickr

View north from Ghuibhsachain
ImageDSC02483 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02485 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02487 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Shiel
ImageDSC02491 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02492 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02493 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02494 by Al, on Flickr

Druim Tarsuinn
ImageDSC02495 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02496 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02498 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02499 by Al, on Flickr

still frosty by the river
ImageDSC02501 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02503 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02505 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02507 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02509 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02511 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02512 by Al, on Flickr

Back at the car we spent a bit of time defrosting the screen (and ourselves) then set off for Kintail. The temperature was generally around -4 on the way up although the roads had all been impeccably treated with grit. We arrived to find another tent occupying the spot we'd hoped for on the track down to the west end of Loch Cluanie (yes - there are other mental folk who camp in freezing weather :clap: ) so we found a spot nearer the road. I suggested to Allison we go and see if the menu in the newly re-opened Cluanie Inn had anything suitable for vegans on it - haven't been in there for ages. The thought of a warm dining experience was more appealing than crawling into an icy tent. The hotel looks OK after its refurb - they had a couple of vegan starters (but only starters) which seemed a bit weird. However, they could do us the roast cauliflower & potato biriyani if we didn't have naan bread with it. Which was quite tasty, although we could have easily eaten double the portion we were served.

Pitching at Cluanie
ImageDSC02514 by Al, on Flickr

Time to relinquish the warmth and head back to the tent...we polished off some rhubarb pie and custard in the car before braving the icy inner - actually we were perfectly warm overnight. The campers along from us were noisy, including howling at the moon at one point, then must have got too cold as we could hear their car engine running half the night. Vapid ninnies.

Still -4 when we got up, once again spending time to de-ice the car. It looked another beautiful morning, although red-tinged clouds suggested a change could be on the way. We started off up Am Bathach, having left our winter kit behind (we could see the top of Ciste Dhubh was bare of snow). Of course we'd take in Ciste Dhubh as well, just in case I ever decide on a fourth round of Munros :roll: For much of the way up Am Bathach the sun glowed on the neighbouring hillsides, but as we neared the summit, clouds and some light snow came in from the north and sadly this was to remain the condition for the rest of the time we were up. We descended to Bealach a'Choinich, normally boggy hell, but everything frozen hard today. Making our way up Ciste Dhubh was - as yesterday had been - enlivened by the flow of solid ice - crampons might have afforded better purchase, although you could just as easily walk on the grass to the side of the path. There were a couple of places where the path was covered with hard packed snow, and the narrow section to the summit was a little slippy with its light covering of new snow, but generally it was fine.

Frosty morning
ImageDSC02516 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02518 by Al, on Flickr

South Shiel Ridge
ImageDSC02519 by Al, on Flickr

Climbing Am Bathach
ImageDSC02521 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Cluanie
ImageDSC02522 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02524 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02525 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Am Bathach
ImageDSC02527 by Al, on Flickr

Ciste Dhubh
ImageDSC02528 by Al, on Flickr

Am Bathach
ImageDSC02529 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02530 by Al, on Flickr

Allison at the edge of the world...
ImageDSC02532 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC02533 by Al, on Flickr

The wind was cold though and we had to descend a bit to find some shelter for our lunch. Then the long walk back alongside the Allt a'Chaorainn Bhig which seemed endless. But thankfully frozen hard. On the way down the road the weather improved, more beautiful Christmassy trees filigreed with hoar frost and a big, low sun making the landscape shimmer.
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