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Completing My 2019 Challenge!

Completing My 2019 Challenge!

Postby andygunn23 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 4:05 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Chaorainn (Glen Spean)

Date walked: 14/12/2019

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 11.8 km

Ascent: 856m

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Completing My 2019 Challenge!

Andrew and I (shock), set off to attempt Beinn a’Chaorainn on the 14th December 2019. This was the final available weekend in 2019, and little did anyone know what 2020 held in store!

The forecast was miserable, and the weather turned out to be accurate – it always does when it is a bad forecast. After Andrew’s success in 2018, I was 11 out of 12 months through my “new Munro each month challenge”, so there was a lot of incentive to get out despite the weather. Daftly my spread of available new Munros was very heavily northwest focused, so having done Creag Meagaidh on a previous outing, Beinn a’Chaorainn was now my closest option from Aberdeen.

Not surprising but we were the only car. Off walking by 09:30

Although the route suggests taking in both Beinn a’Chaorainn and Beinn Teallach, given it was the depths of winter we set out with the firm intention of just doing Beinn a’Chaorainn, but always had Beinn Teallach in the back pocket in case we made astonishing progress.

Early section

As we stated the first ascent towards Meall Clachaig, it began snowing heavier than I had been in for some time, but remarkably there wasn’t a breath of wind – it was astonishingly peaceful. I vividly remember spending quite a portion of time talking about how big the snowflakes were and how warm it felt.

Aesthetically not the most picturesque, but very peaceful (at the time)


The real lying snow started about 500m which was nicer than the boggier ground lower down. Although there wasn’t a great deal to see, we would get the occasional glimpse through patches to some of the surrounding hills or the sky, which was nice. There was also the tracks from various hares and other creatures across the otherwise untouched snow. Always curious how tracks can miraculously just stop with no sign of bird strike / long jump (either that or they just a huge distance?).

A nice reminder you’re never that far away from some wildlife, if you know where to look.

Quick water stop


Getting colder!

For the final 50m or so, heading toward the 1049m marker, it was beginning to get really cold. We had been putting off stopping until we got to the cairn but with the slight breeze it was now time to bite the bullet and got the extra layers and thicker gloves on.

Nice and toasty – views not so nice

Beinn a’ Chaorainn has a real added risk in winter. Cornices have caught unsuspecting victims off guard in the past and I’m sure there has been a few well published instances since I became interested in the Scottish hills. Pretty certain this hill was used as an example in a previous winter navigation course. Given the visibility was pants we decided to use it as a bit of a refresher exercise. Obviously approaching from the southwest our plan was to hit the 1049m cairn and then do some pacing to ensure we stayed well clear of the east cliff face and check our pacing in a real-life scenario.

Quick illustration. Green line we took. Red or blue cornice risk.

A brief glimpse

After some successful navigation under no time pressure we were at the summit of Beinn a’Chaorainn. I don’t think we even really discussed the idea of including Beinn Teallach before retracing our steps back the exact way we came.

Some snaps from the summit



The route down was nice and easy in comparison to the slog heading up, soft power under feet made for excellent knee cushioning – my favourite part of winter walking. Once we were nearly below the cloud level but still in the snow we stopped for a relatively long and peaceful sandwich break.

Maybe the best photo from the day?

We made it back to the car in exceptional time without seeing another soul out on the hill. Although it doesn’t sound like too much of an undertaking, I was quite pleased to complete my “new Munro each month challenge” and most definitely took the pressure off in 2020! Physically speaking it was not the most arduous but enormously time consuming, particularly in the winter months.

This was the last outing of 2019, which took my annual stats to:
- 38 new Munros
- Another 7 nights spent camping / bivvying high
- Only 310km walked and 23,250m ascent gained.

In summary, another excellent year – some big outings, the first visit to Skye and the birth of the packraft! I had quite a good list planned for 2020… Given the lockdown restrictions that list has grown somewhat!

Nearly forgot to mention - but this outing also offered one of the best Chinese takeaways to celebrate upon arrival back in Aberdeen :D

Thanks for reading
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Posts: 100
Munros:188   Corbetts:3
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Location: Aberdeen

Re: Completing My 2019 Challenge!

Postby Spade » Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:43 pm

Really great report and photos!! :clap:
Posts: 149
Munros:80   Corbetts:5
Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Location: Annecy

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