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Carn Bhac and a lot of wasted effort

Carn Bhac and a lot of wasted effort


Postby snowdonia7 » Sun Mar 15, 2020 7:22 pm

Munros included on this walk: Carn Bhac

Date walked: 14/03/2020

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 34.7 km

Ascent: 1165m

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Our rather ambitious plan was to do five munros from Inverey, riding in to Altanour Lodge on mountain bikes. We started the cycle in at about 7am and straight away realised the weather wasn't going to do us any favours, and we pressed on into a freezing wind and snow and by the time we got to the lodge my feet were freezing. We changed into our boots and headed in a generally westerly direction towards the Allt nan Odhar (the track was covered with snow).

After 2k we headed north westerly climbing gently beside the allt. At the end of the allt we headed nw to the summit of Carn Bhac, pausing briefly at the cairn to take a quick photo.

IMG_20200314_100421.jpg
Carn Bhac


The wind chill was painful on any exposed flesh and visibility quite poor and Neil and I discussed whether to continue. We agreed to press on towards our next objective, Beinn lutharn Mhor, where we could pause, get some food and reassess. So we descended sw then west to the western summit, before descending south for just over 2k to the northern aspect of Beinn lutharn Mhor.

After lunch we set off upwards, but after a few hundred metres the visibility completely went, it was a whiteout with no frame of reference at all and the only way to see there was solid ground ahead was to crouch down. We knew we were heading up a steep slope, but couldn't see the snow conditions ahead, so decided to retreat.

Perhaps at this point we should have called it a day, but I was keen to try and get something more out of the day, so suggested we head for Carn an Righ. This meant traversing west around the lower slopes of Beinn lutharn Mhor, which might have been stratightforward in good weather, but into a strong headwind and trudging through deep snow requiring high knee lifts for every step made it very hard going. After an hour we had barely managed 2K and we agreed that we just wouldn't have enough time to continue, climb the munro and return.

So we agreed to backtrack all the way to where we had taken lunch and then continued in an easterly direction, descending in the general direction of Altanour Lodge then dropping down to cross the allt at the foot of An Socach at about 550m.

With heavy legs we started climbing southwards up the steep north slope of An Socach. By now the cloud base had lifted and we could pretty much see the tops of the munros in the area and our hopes were lifted for getting something else out of the day. However, as we climbed there was a avalanche just above and to our left. We could see some heavy deposits of snow just at the top of the slope. Much of the low lying snow had melted, and we both felt it might have been too much of a risk to head straight up the slope. So with a heavy heart we descended and returned to the lodge to saddle up for the return ride back to Inverey.

In addition to the 20 kilometres on the bike we had walked just under 15k, which took us just under nine hours, underlining just how over-ambitious our planned route had been for winter conditions. At least we're safe to walk another day, but we were both disappointed about missing the other munros in the area as this pretty much put paid to our plans of compleating at Easter.
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Re: Carn Bhac and a lot of wasted effort

Postby kevsbald » Tue Mar 17, 2020 10:20 am

Reads like a chastening experience.
I'm sure things will improve weather-wise shortly and you'll get some views for these remaining hills. Check out the Colonel's Bed if you get the chance again.
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Re: Carn Bhac and a lot of wasted effort

Postby jmarkb » Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:00 pm

Respect for posting this. Would you say that your self-imposed deadline contributed to making planning and on-the-hill decisions which you would not have made otherwise, and are you going to modify it as a result?
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Re: Carn Bhac and a lot of wasted effort

Postby snowdonia7 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 6:00 pm

jmarkb wrote:Respect for posting this. Would you say that your self-imposed deadline contributed to making planning and on-the-hill decisions which you would not have made otherwise, and are you going to modify it as a result?


The self-imposed deadline has had an effect on our planning, but everything we planned to do was within our ability level (albeit I can no longer do what I could 10 years ago - in fact 10 years ago Neil and I would probably have run the route).

The weather is perhaps the biggest factor, but that's pretty much the case for most of our trips as we both work and have to arrange time off quite a bit in advance and then travel up to Scotland irrespective of the weather - and if the weather is poor then we'll adjust our plans before we set out for the day, or during the walk.

I guess that given all the munros we have left require a minimum of a seven hour drive to get there and we're both in jobs that we can't just drop at a moment's notice it means we can't just watch the weather forecast and head for the hills when there is a high pressure window.

In terms of clouds and silver linings it's probable that we won't be in a position to compleat until the summer, so there should be more chance of a nice day (fingers crossed).
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Re: Carn Bhac and a lot of wasted effort

Postby jmarkb » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:18 pm

All the best for the remaining hills: really hope you get some better luck with the weather!
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