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Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals


Postby Jaxter » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:46 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Bheithir

Munros included on this walk: Sgorr Dhearg (Beinn a'Bheithir), Sgorr Dhonuill (Beinn a'Bheithir)

Date walked: 12/02/2017

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 11.6 km

Ascent: 1368m

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Waking up at 7.45 and looking at the clock, I let forth a string of expletives that would make most people cringe….I’d overslept by over 2 hours and it looked like Plan A was scuppered….But the oracle assured me that it was only a 5 hour walk, so even if snow slowed me down by an hour I’d be down by 4.30. Easy peasy :thumbup:

I was on the road at 8.15, parked and booted and walking by 10.30. Possibly my latest ever start but it was a gorgeous day and I was glad that I’d made the effort :thumbup: It was certainly interesting driving that road in the daylight – kept wanting to stop for photos :lol:

It was very cold but a quick march along the road warmed me up and soon I was through the gate and working my way up steep pathless hillside. The sun was shining and before long I was shedding layers. I could see Sgorr Ban, the Eastern summit of Beinn a’Bheithir and a munro top ahead of me.

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I could feel my legs complaining – although I’d just done a week of skiing it appears that very different muscles are involved :lol: Pushing through the pain I zigzagged my way upwards.

Back towards Ballachulish and the Pap poking out
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Hey ho…onwards to the fence (no stile so climbed over it in an undignified manner) and continued upwards. Soon I met the path and followed it to the right. It curled around the corner and up onto the ridge. The wind was picking up but I was climbing so it was all good. And the views behind where pretty awesome.

The Pap and the Mamores
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The Ballachulish Bridge and Loch Leven
ImageDSC02110 by Jackie Baxter, on Flickr

Glencoe
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Nevis and the Mamores – clear!!
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On the ridge there were a couple of cairns and I was into the snow. There were obvious footprints so the route was obvious even when the path was obscured. The wind was brutally strong and it got worse the higher I climbed. I passed two people heading down. Approaching a wee rocky outcrop I was attacked by a load of spindrift which stung my face and nearly cost me my eyeballs :lol:

I crawled my way up and didn’t even notice until I was nearly up that there was a man waiting at the top! Turns out he was with a group – he had turned back but the others were pushing on. We had a brief chat before I continued upwards, beginning to think that today was going to be a day to be defeated by the mountain. Thinking I could at least try to get some views I soldiered on :crazy:

It was very hard going, the wind was blowing me sideways and throwing snow at me and I was having to stop and turn away every few minutes. Soon I caught up with a group of people who turned out to be the remains of the walking group. They had climbed to the ridge and turned back deciding it was just too windy. “I’ll get the views from the ridge then turn back” I said…

I stopped to add more layers (very difficult when the wind was attempting to blow the mountain over) but finally was ready to continue. Looking up, there was the beginnings of a cornice which was creating some pretty impressive spin drift.

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Another ridge leading up to Sgorr Dearg
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Gritting my teeth I crawled up and over onto the ridge and was nearly blown back over! It was insanely blowy and I crawled a few metres upwards before sitting down and wedging my feet into the snow…less chance of getting blown over right!? :crazy:

I got some photos, thinking that this was as high as I’d get.
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Going for the windswept look :lol:
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Looking up, it looked like I was pretty close to the top of Sgorr Ban…I’d try to get some views before heading down, I decided. How much worse could it get? :crazy: Staying low, I slowly made my way upwards and eventually got to the summit. It was absolutely stunning in all directions and miraculously the wind seemed to have dropped :shock: I sat down incase it picked up again, and enjoyed the views whilst putting my crampons on. Probably should have done this before, but they’d have blown away :lol:

Think this is Bidean on the left
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Glencoe
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The tempting looking ridge up to Sgorr Dearg
[url=https://flic.kr/p/QRuDEP]Image

Windswept selfie
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As I was securing my second crampon I thought I heard someone say “hello” – I wasn’t imagining it and two people arrived at the top – they’d come up the crazy ridge! I wasn’t quite the only person mad enough to be still out :lol: We had a chat and they said they were going on and seemed happy for me to tag along with them (or were too polite to say no :lol: ) Strength in numbers, I headed downwards towards the very inviting ridge towards Sgorr Dearg with Martin and Chris.

They turned out to be excellent company and we made our way without too many problems along the ridge to the summit of Sgorr Dearg. It was still very windy but no longer dangerously so - we must have been getting some shelter from somewhere! A few photos were taken before we moved on.

Sgorr Ban bottom right and Nevis (now in cloud) and the Mamores
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Onwards to Sgorr Dhonuill
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The route was clear and the snow largely compacted so I only sunk knee deep every few steps :lol: What was more of a problem were the rocks just below the surface which caught the crampons and sent me tripping over… :crazy:

Reaching the bealach we paused. Martin had decided that he had had enough and was going to descend from here. The bonus of the wind was that it had blown all the snow off the slopes where there might be avalanche risk :lol: Chris wanted to climb the second summit too, so we parted ways, with a plan that Martin would bring their car round to save us a road walk at the end – I love it when a plan comes together :lol:

Chris and I headed up the slope towards Sgorr Dhonuill. We were relatively sheltered from the wind until near the top. My legs were feeling the burn but we continued on. I’d read a few accounts of the top bit being exposed and was a little concerned given the windy conditions, but there was nothing that worried me at all.

Chris looking back towards Sgorr Dearg
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Loch Leven
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Nevis clear again
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Out to sea
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At the top we met three people in climbing gear – they said they’d come up the Dragon’s tooth – the ridge leading directly up from the north :shock: After a quick munch, Chris said he had an idea for an alternative route down – to continue along the ridge then down a gully. The map suggested it was possible and apparently a guide book had mentioned it too. Always up for winging it, we set off down. We got some nice views out to sea and I never like retracing my steps anyway!

Loch Linnhe
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As the ridge bent round a bit we got the wind and spindrift back in our faces. Chris was sensible and had goggles. We had a look at a couple of gullys but they were blowing a lot of snow up them so continued on. We passed a beautiful frozen lochan…

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...before finding a “suitable” gully….

Crazy spin drift
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I took the lead :shock: and went for it. Initially there was a lot of snow blowing up and I was struggling to see, but soon it became less unpleasant. Deep snow gave way to rocks just under the surface, making walking difficult and twisted ankles likely. Looking back up, it looked pretty insane :lol:

Chris following me down
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Looking ahead
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Down the worst of it, we continued through the snow before reaching the treeline. After crossing some hard ice, we stopped to lose the crampons. From here it was a case of picking our way along the edge of the forest, involving a lot of stream crossing, ducking under branches and walking along tree trunks, before getting to the track.

Some interesting ice sculptures
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From here it was a simple walk of 2km to South Ballachulish which went by very fast – amazing what good company can do! We enjoyed the sun setting over the hills, although the wind was definitely picking up even more :shock:

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The light was rapidly disappearing but it was a relief to be on solid ground, and soon we were at the car park where Martin was waiting with the car. They very kindly dropped me off at my car just before 6 and we parted ways.

A day that very nearly didn’t happen – but it turned out to be a fantastic day, great views, wonderful hills and good company :thumbup: :D But clearly the 5 hour estimate was not accounting for snow and high winds…. :lol:
Last edited by Jaxter on Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby Coop » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:53 pm

Fantastic report - well in
I was on mullach nan coirean on Thursday and that was windy!!

On the ascent to Sgorr dhonuill did you go on the wee ledge or up over the rocks- that would have been dodgy.
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby londonwalker » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:49 pm

Hi Jaxter. Nice report that. love the shots of distant hills with the snow line - excellent stuff :D
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby jupe1407 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:03 am

Awesome report and awesome-r pics. That looked a fab day :D

Well done Jaxter :clap:
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby apollo0815 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:50 am

Slightly maniac and crazy, as always, great pics :)
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:55 pm

Another great adventure,( it sounded insanely brave) and stunning photos. :clap:
We have yet to climb Beinn a' Bleithir it looks very fine but I think we will wait for a bit less wind
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby Bruno » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:02 am

Wonderful report, Jackie - up there for the Webtogs Monthly thingy with those pictures.
Always enjoy your reports and photos. :clap: :clap:
A truly great day out, is Beinn a Bheithir -wonderful situation.
:D
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby malky_c » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:44 pm

Looked fantastic - slightly envious of not being out in the west last weekend, although the wind might have taken the edge off the fun a bit :) . Sgurr Dearg was my first Munro - we used to spend our summer holidays right at the foot of it. Been up a few times since, but not in a long time.
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby katyhills » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:57 pm

Fab photos Jaxter, and a lovely report on a pair of great hills. :D
Glad you made it round safely though - the wind at the weekend certainly made things quite interesting on the hills! The ever changing skies made for some dramatic photos in the whole Glencoe/Kinlochleven area. :)
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby Jaxter » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:18 pm

Coop wrote:Fantastic report - well in
I was on mullach nan coirean on Thursday and that was windy!!

On the ascent to Sgorr dhonuill did you go on the wee ledge or up over the rocks- that would have been dodgy.

Thanks dude, aye it was pretty mental :shock: :shock:

I remember seeing the ledge as I approached but don't remember crossing it so I think I must have scrambled up over the rocks... too busy clinging on :lol: :lol:



londonwalker wrote:Hi Jaxter. Nice report that. love the shots of distant hills with the snow line - excellent stuff :D

Cheers - so nice having my good camera back :D :D



jupe1407 wrote:Awesome report and awesome-r pics. That looked a fab day :D

Well done Jaxter :clap:

Thanks JP it was an awesome day :D



apollo0815 wrote:Slightly maniac and crazy, as always, great pics :)

Seems I have a reputation :lol: :lol: thanks :)
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby Jaxter » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:23 pm

Cairngorm creeper wrote:Another great adventure,( it sounded insanely brave) and stunning photos. :clap:
We have yet to climb Beinn a' Bleithir it looks very fine but I think we will wait for a bit less wind

I hope you get as good vis as Sunday, although I would recommend a little less wind :lol: or just put rocks in yer bag :lol: :lol:



Bruno wrote:Wonderful report, Jackie - up there for the Webtogs Monthly thingy with those pictures.
Always enjoy your reports and photos. :clap: :clap:
A truly great day out, is Beinn a Bheithir -wonderful situation.
:D
Iain

Thankyou! Ooh you never know.... :wink: fantastic hills aren't they :D



malky_c wrote:Looked fantastic - slightly envious of not being out in the west last weekend, although the wind might have taken the edge off the fun a bit :) . Sgurr Dearg was my first Munro - we used to spend our summer holidays right at the foot of it. Been up a few times since, but not in a long time.

The views were worth the wind for sure, despite some distinctly dodgy moments :lol: ah you usually get the pick of the weather :wink: :lol:



katyhills wrote:Fab photos Jaxter, and a lovely report on a pair of great hills. :D
Glad you made it round safely though - the wind at the weekend certainly made things quite interesting on the hills! The ever changing skies made for some dramatic photos in the whole Glencoe/Kinlochleven area. :)

Thanks :D yes, "interesting" is definitely the right word :shock: :lol: but worth it staying out!
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby mamoset » Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:21 am

Some cracking photos there Jaxter, seems we all got battered on Bheithir :shock: :lol:
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:19 pm

Perseverance Pays off Profusely!!! Good effort to keep going alone when others were turning down. Also great to do both hills together, conditions meant I've done them separately but always hankered after repeating on a day with views!

That curving ridge did look very enticing. We did it in a proper whiteout, one of the scariest pieces of navigation I've had to do. Especially when then leaving the summit of Sgorr Dhearg northwards knowing if we got it wrong it was straight down! Thank god there's a trig point so you know 100% where you are...

I can also confirm that this is a windy mountain, 3rd windiest in my list of windyness, after A'Mharconaich and An Gearanach.

We might have gone up the gully you came down, on a different day, or one near it.
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby Jaxter » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:52 pm

mamoset wrote:Some cracking photos there Jaxter, seems we all got battered on Bheithir :shock: :lol:

Thankyou - yes it was hard earned wasn't it :lol: Great adventure though :D



Mal Grey wrote:Perseverance Pays off Profusely!!! Good effort to keep going alone when others were turning down. Also great to do both hills together, conditions meant I've done them separately but always hankered after repeating on a day with views!

That curving ridge did look very enticing. We did it in a proper whiteout, one of the scariest pieces of navigation I've had to do. Especially when then leaving the summit of Sgorr Dhearg northwards knowing if we got it wrong it was straight down! Thank god there's a trig point so you know 100% where you are...

I can also confirm that this is a windy mountain, 3rd windiest in my list of windyness, after A'Mharconaich and An Gearanach.

We might have gone up the gully you came down, on a different day, or one near it.

That sounds pretty scary....makes it more exciting eh :lol: Still, it's good to know that you can do it if you have to :thumbup:
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Re: Blizzard on Bheithir - high winds and new pals

Postby rockhopper » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:59 pm

Like buses - no report on Beinn a'Bheithir for a while then two in quick succession :wink: Cracking day for it - glad your camera worked that day (unlike mine :roll: ) - cheers :)
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