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When a "Warm-up" Goes Wrong - Loch Treig 5
by andygunn23 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:54 pm
Route description: Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain
Munros included on this walk: Beinn na Lap, Chno Dearg, Stob a' Choire Mheadhoin, Stob Coire Easain, Stob Coire Sgriodain
Date walked: 04/08/2018
Time taken: 24 hours
Distance: 35 km
Ascent: 2585m8 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
After three years of planning a mammoth route in the Cairngorms it was finally pencilled in for two weeks’ time. This outing was a very last-minute decision and was meant to be the gentle warmup, “meant” being the operative word.
Andrew T and myself were scheduled to do the "Ready to Rock" outdoor climbing introduction in Glen Nevis on the Saturday and decided that the Loch Treig 5 could make the long drive to Fort William a bit more justified.
As standard protocol I messaged the Whatsapp group on the Wednesday to see if anyone else was available and Andrew Mac agreed he would meet us at the start at 18:30 on the Saturday evening. Perfect, this meant it would be the same daft group who intended to attempt our planned Cairngorm epic.
In hindsight Andrew T and I were relatively unprepared and possibly underestimated the physical / mental exertion a full day learning to climb would take – well I know I certainly did. Nevertheless, once we finished the course we rushed off to Fort William’s Morrisons to get some pies and snacks and the three of us were ready to set off from Fersit just behind schedule at 18:45.
The start of the walk was pleasant and I think we were all feeling in relatively good condition, this very quickly deteriorated.
Weather holding up
Looking back & plenty of water
Summit of Stob Choire Sgriodain, 979m
We reached Stob Choire Sgriodain in a very respectable time of just less than two hours. It was beginning to get dark which was obviously emphasised by the fact we were deep into the now low-lying cloud.
Our intention was to get to Chno Dearg as quickly as possible and do as much walking as we could this evening before it was too dark. Within minutes of leaving Stob Choire Sgriodain I spontaneously ran out of motivation for being in the cloud, up the hills in the cold, without a proper dinner and the knowledge I was about to spend a night in effectively an overpriced breathable bin bag.
Visibility was pants
We did manage to successfully navigate to the summit of Chno Dearg but by this time the wind had picked up and it was baltic. Already in a bit of a grump, that I think I was hiding well, quickly became impossible to hide once I remembered I opted not to take gloves because, “it was summer.” Idiot.
The gradual darkness had nearly taken over and the wind made the idea of camping at any height massively unappealing. I can so vividly remember leaving the summit of Chno Dearg totally uninterested in using navigating and thinking this was the worst I had ever felt in the hills. I say vividly, not because I have an awful memory, but because I am writing this eight weeks after the event.
My mood improved slightly once we were out of the cloud but attempting to tackle the steep descent towards Allt Feith Thuill in very poor light was slow and frustrating to say the least.
I had consulted a number of other Walk Reports and the best route was still relatively unclear. We took a pretty direct route down Glas-choire following the stream – even in the dark and wet it was reasonable so I guess I technically would recommend.
Frickin’ midges. ARGH. No solid dry ground. Bog everywhere. Headtorch on and absolutely ready to sleep. Here will do. I was ready to implode with annoyance. I am not sure how the other Andrew’s felt at the time but I hope it wasn’t as bad as I did. Decided not to bother brushing my teeth and went straight into a sulk into my sleeping bag, positively unsure if I had enough “safe” space between myself and the wet looking stream Allt Feith Thuill… I think I was asleep before Andrew squared had even began to get ready.
A new dawn, a new day, 06:28
Covered in midges bites, a little bit damp from the night before, not overly warm, starving, absolutely starving, sore fingers from the climbing, but honestly waking up outside never gets old. Honestly love it every single time! Did I mention I was hungry?
I had massively underestimated these 5 hills and had under packed food so was already on rationing mode before breakfast.
The ascent up Sron na Cloiche Sgoilte towards Beinn na Lap was a bit of a slog, as many hills off the beaten path are in all reality, but it was good kind of slog. Last night seemed a long time ago and we were back talking about how amazing the pint would taste once we successfully completed our Cairngorm epic in two weeks’ time!
Looking back after quickly gaining a lot of height
Confirming summit of Beinn na Lap at 08:30
Once at the summit of Beinn na Lap we headed in a near straight westerly direction in the hope of getting out of the clouds as soon as possible.
Just out of clouds and the railway line finally in view
On route to a very low Loch Treig
We made it to Loch Treig already quite tired so decided to stop for a bite to eat and rest the legs for a good 15 minutes. The journey between lunch and reaching the abandoned house at Loch Treighead seemed to take a long time but we did get there for about 11:00
View for lunch
Finally made it
Footbridge crossing the Allt na Lairige – not that obvious.
When we crossed the footbridge we made our biggest mistake of the weekend. We underestimated another hill.
Our navigational plan was to take a pretty direct route up towards Creagan a’Chaise before veering west and tackling the Stob Choire Easain ridge. My initial plan was to follow Allt na Lairige further round but in the heat of the moment the more direct option seemed like it would save some time.
Andrew and Creag Ghuanach in the background – nice wee hill!
You don’t realise how quiet it is until you hear the train rattling through
Our progress was insanely slow. We had been tackling this one hill for over two hours and seemed to be gaining no height but putting in a lot of effort.
We stopped at about 750m just when we had reached the shoulder of Stob Coire Easain and eat found out own perch to get some more water and food. I finished all my food keeping just a handful of Jelly Babies in case of an emergency.
By now our conversation solely came down to how tired we were, although I don’t think the word “tired” was every actually used, tending to opt for a more “colourful” alternative.
When getting my remaining sausage roll Andrew T had gone a couple of metres higher to find a good rock to sit on, the next photo is completely unstaged but accurately reflects how I think we all felt.
Andrew Mac then out of nowhere offered up a section of his coconut bar - nothing has ever tasted so good. Quite probably the highlight of the weekend, I vowed to stock up on these bars for the Cairngorm trip but actually forgot. I am now scared to re-try and ruin the memory!
When will this end?!
To be fair when we hit 900m the final 215m of height over the next kilometre was slightly easier and more gradual. For the first time, possibly ever, we split up and walked at our own pace with the only criteria to keep each other in sight which proved hard in the limited visibility. The worst part was knowing that the only real way off the hills was the way we were already going, there was absolute no way to make this any easier, because I think if there was an option we would have bailed out.
It took us 4 hours 45 minutes to do the 4/5 kilometres from the footbridge to the summit of Stob Coire Easain which must be one of my slowest!
When we reached the summit we were greeted by an annoyingly fresh and upbeat family who couldn’t comprehend how exhausted we were. Truthfully I couldn’t wait for them to leave…
The route from Stob Coire Easain was arguably the most scenic section of our outing and that probably gave us a bit of a boost, but on the way down we all started to get varying knee issues.
Between the final two Munros
It didn’t take too long to get to Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin and but now all I wanted was to get back to the car as soon as possible. The immediate route off the summit was a well formed path but once we got closer to Meall Cian Dearg it turned into a bit of a bogfest.
The good section
We made our second worst decision of the weekend and after losing the path decided to take the wrong route down from Meall Cian Dearg to the 514m mark.
Looking back – we came from the left instead of the right
This was steep and made the knee issue far more of a problem but thankfully we only had a couple of kilometres to get back to the car.
It seemed to take an entirety to get back to the car but now I was excited for my favourite end to a weekend - Joe’s The Chippy on the Corner. I enjoyed a fish supper with smoked sausage and mushy pees on the side whilst struggling to stay awake. The struggle was even more so sitting as a passenger on route back to Aberdeen.
All in all, a bit of a mixed bag was this circuit. I am sure it could have been more enjoyable if we had some different circumstance (e.g. longer Saturday or better weather) but in hindsight it was a good bit of physical preparation for our next outing, albeit maybe more than a warmup… Talk about a cliff-hanger!
Thanks for reading,
by Sgurr » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:09 pm
andygunn23 wrote:. The worst part was knowing that the only real way off the hills was the way we were already going, there was absolute no way to make this any easier, because I think if there was an option we would have bailed out.
You would think that getting older would mean with experience we had less of this sort of thing, but unfortunately we can remember when we could do things easily, so are constantly biting off more than we can chew. We get into situations like this on shorter and shorter walks. Oh well, we do it for "fun". I think Ben Aden was the worst when I had a hard job of getting husband out from under a trailer where he was "sheltering from the sun". He would quote a long day in Strathfarrar for me when the chain came off my bike and I said "Just leave me here, you can come back with the car in the morning."
Never mind, you are young and getting fitter and fitter ....hopefully.
Oh BTW WELL DONE. That was quite a long walk, and nothing would induce me to go out with just a bivvy bag in midgie time
by snowdonia7 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:50 pm
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