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An Ossian two day epic in the snow

An Ossian two day epic in the snow


Postby jimbell21 » Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:58 am

Route description: Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg from Corrour

Munros included on this walk: Beinn na Lap, Carn Dearg (Corrour), Sgor Gaibhre

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Pharlagain

Date walked: 26/02/2020

Time taken: 14 hours

Distance: 44.7 km

Ascent: 2009m

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Wednesday 26th February

After 3 months of relentless storms, I was buzzing to get back into the hills for a decent trip. The Loch Ossian area has always appealed, so I hatched a plan to walk in from Rannoch, over Beinn Pharlagain, Sgor Gaibhre and Carn Dearg with an overnighter at the Ossian Hostel, then climbing Beinn na Lap the following morning and walking back to Rannoch...simples. I knew the snow would be deep...

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Nice easy track to start on the "Road to the Isles"

Progress was rapid along the track, until I reached the bridge over the river and went off piste into the snow, heading towards Beinn Pharlagain and immediately knee deep in snow. In hindsight, I probably could have stayed on the west of the river for another 2 or 3km, but didn't want to take the chance of not being able to cross it. Anyway, my war with the snow began, a relentless and energy traverse up the slopes. Progress was incredibly slow and bail out options crossed my mind...

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Views opening up as I slowly gained height

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View to my final summit of the day, Carn Dearg and it's long ridge

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Absolutely knackering work!

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Beinn Pharlagain....so close, but so far away at 0.2mph.

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Finally!! After 2 hours and 35 mins, objective one complete at 1pm.

Although the pictures look idyllic, the wind was fairly strong, probably between 30 to 40mph gusts, and regular patches of snow showers were coming and going. After a quick 5 minute stop, I was on the move again, keen to make as much ground as I could given the slow pace. I don't think I've worked as hard reaching any summit, a hard won corbett! Onwards towards Sgor Gaibhre and thankfully there were some sections where I was only up to my ankles in snow!

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Views to die for out of the white outs

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Carn Dearg from Bealach Leathann, en route to Sgor Gaibhre

Sgor Gaibhre was another gruelling task through knee deep snow. Snow shoes might have been a good addition to my kit for this trip! Unfortunately most of the slopes were climbed in a total white out, so progress was even slower with compass making sure I knew where I was. I hit the summit at 2.25pm and it was grim up there. Strong winds and almost zero viz, so took a quick bearing towards the bealach with Carn Dearg and set off. Not long after leaving, the white out passed and views opened up again...

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Views are back! And some welcome hard snow, never been so pleased to have it underfoot!

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View north to Loch Ossian, Beinn Na Lap and beyond

On reaching the bealach, the next blizzard and white out hit, which stayed with me all the way to the summit of Carn Dearg. I had noted massive cornices on the east side of the mountain, so took my time heading up the ridge, making sure I was firmly on the ridge to the summit. After a battering by blizzard, the cairn finally emerged at 3.50pm.

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Carn Dearg summit. Brutal!

Not a place to hang about, a quick snap and I set off along the NW ridge towards Ossian, keeping well left to keep away from the cornices. Viz was about 10m, but finally improved lower down.

I ploughed down the hill and never stopped until I eventually reached the hostel, 7 hours and 21km after setting off, and finished the last 25 minutes in another blizzard. A very tough day! The hostel was the most welcome sight ever, and I seemed last to arrive, about 5.30pm.

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View from the back door, stunning place.

I had a great evening in the hostel with 9 other guys. Very friendly bunch, who even offered me a share of their whisky and evening snacks. I was very grateful and enjoyed the chat before hitting the sack about 10.30pm.

Thursday 27th February

After managing a few hours kip in between the usual hostel snoring competition, I was out the door by 8.20am. There had been a further few cm of snow overnight and the place was magical in the morning, minus the blizzard, which followed me from hostel to the summit of Beinn Na Lap.

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Shortly before leaving the hostel and the blizzard commencing...

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A glimmer whilst battling up towards the ridge line. Another knee deep day with the occasional plunge into a hole or stream...

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After another relentless slog through a near white out, the summit was reached with nae views. It was pretty wild again so I never hung around.

The views finally cleared as I descended back down the ridge, opening up stunning views towards Corrour station, Leum Uilleim and beyond.

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Panorama with hostel centre and Leum Uilleim right.

After about 3 hours, I was back near the hostel, about to take the fork south for Rannoch....the track was totally untouched, with drifting snow everywhere, and I reckoned I had about 16km back to where my car was. As suspected, it was absolutely brutal, literally knee deep the full way and one of the most tiring walks I've ever done. The following few pictures give a fair account of the conditions...

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Beinn na Lap in the background

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If the views weren't this good, I would have been in tears on my knees!

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An excuse to stop...the Easians and Grey Corries in the distance.

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The track....might have been easier climbing Carn Dearg again and following the ridge back!

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Carn Dearg and ridge from "the track".

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Hours of this...just ridiculous and a pure physical and mental challenge.

After what was literally hours of toil, I finally reached the main land rover track near the main bridge that I last encountered over 24 hours before. I've never been so relieved to see that a land rover had been along the track. Walking in these tyre tracks was an absolute dream, I was delighted to be moving again!

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YAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

Feeling like I was suddenly walking on air, the final couple of miles back to the car flew by. After 7 hours and 5 minutes and 24.5km of savagery, I reached my lonely car, a great feeling!! Definitely one of the hardest trips I've ever done, but absolutely magical all the same. I never saw a single person outside of the youth hostel, nobody on the hills, no footsteps even, just a totally blank canvas and isolation.

Another trip to remember and much needed after a stormageddon start to 2020.

My legs are ruined....
Last edited by jimbell21 on Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:11 pm, edited 5 times in total.
jimbell21
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Posts: 164
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Sub 2000:18   Hewitts:4
Islands:10
Joined: Feb 19, 2018
Location: Dunfermline

Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Feb 29, 2020 5:22 pm

Lovely. :clap: :clap: :clap:
When I did Beinn Pharlagan a few years ago, the Road to the Isles was in a terrible mess - covered in a mass of hardcore for the construction of (yet another) Scottish Power hydro scheme, and not at all pleasant walk on :( :( I made enquiries and discovered that the planning consent obliged them to return it to its original state . It looks as if they have :D - though it's difficult to tell in the snow
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Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:10 pm

Brilliant trip, stunning photos :clap: :clap: :clap: but that really sounded like hard work. I think you're right about the snow shoes, you would have been much faster with less effort, and from what I can remember of these hills there they are gentle enough to let you reach the summits wearing tennis rackets :lol: :lol: But seriously snowshoeing is great fun :D
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Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:52 pm

Brilliant stuff! What weather, and what pics you've recorded it in!

You mention a few times going slowly, but I think your pace was pretty phenomenal in those conditions!
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Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby jimbell21 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:01 am

past my sell by date wrote:Lovely. :clap: :clap: :clap:
When I did Beinn Pharlagan a few years ago, the Road to the Isles was in a terrible mess - covered in a mass of hardcore for the construction of (yet another) Scottish Power hydro scheme, and not at all pleasant walk on :( :( I made enquiries and discovered that the planning consent obliged them to return it to its original state . It looks as if they have :D - though it's difficult to tell in the snow


Thanks :D. Definitely want to go back in summer, most likely taking the mountain bike and hoping the track is in a decent state like you say. Feels like a special place and will be fun comparing photos without 2 feet of snow on the ground!


Huff_n_Puff wrote:Brilliant trip, stunning photos :clap: :clap: :clap: but that really sounded like hard work. I think you're right about the snow shoes, you would have been much faster with less effort, and from what I can remember of these hills there they are gentle enough to let you reach the summits wearing tennis rackets :lol: :lol: But seriously snowshoeing is great fun :D


Thanks, absolutely loved it! And yes, snow shoes were googled not long after sitting on the couch with a beer... Fickle things our winter, last year at the same time I was on the Cairngorm plateau in s T-shirt in 16 degrees, no snow anywhere! Will definitely be a good investment though. Cheers 8)

Alteknacker wrote:Brilliant stuff! What weather, and what pics you've recorded it in!

You mention a few times going slowly, but I think your pace was pretty phenomenal in those conditions!


Thanks Alteknacker, it really was a stunning couple of days. It did feel like I was absolutely crawling, but probably more to do with the fact that my heart rate was sky high compared to normal. Rarely make such a sustained effort when walking. Looking forward to planning another trip :o
jimbell21
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Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby Grisu » Tue Mar 03, 2020 7:30 pm

Nice reading and amazing pictures!
Congratulation to this extraordinary effort which makes an unforgettable memory! :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby jimbell21 » Wed Mar 04, 2020 5:46 pm

Grisu wrote:Nice reading and amazing pictures!
Congratulation to this extraordinary effort which makes an unforgettable memory! :clap: :clap: :clap:


Thanks very much, glad you enjoyed it. Thankfully my legs have now recovered and raring to go again 😁🏔️🏔️🏔️.

Cheers 👍
jimbell21
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Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:52 pm

Fabulous! Wonderful images, and what a great bit of the world.

Also a bit jealous, as we were sheltering from the weather a bit further north and resorted to coastal stuff and a bothy instead of the hills...
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Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby jimbell21 » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:50 am

Mal Grey wrote:Fabulous! Wonderful images, and what a great bit of the world.

Also a bit jealous, as we were sheltering from the weather a bit further north and resorted to coastal stuff and a bothy instead of the hills...


Thanks, it's certainly a place I'll be returning to. As always, not many photos taken during the regular battering by snow showers, which makes the weather look better than it was overall. Glad you got out for a wee coastal adventure yourself, those who work Monday to Friday are having rotten luck just now with the weekend weather...
jimbell21
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Posts: 164
Munros:170   Corbetts:25
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Sub 2000:18   Hewitts:4
Islands:10
Joined: Feb 19, 2018
Location: Dunfermline

Re: An Ossian two day epic in the snow

Postby past my sell by date » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:22 am

Yes - these hills are not terribly exciting in the Summer - but good job you had the right clothing - as this was the site of the 1951 Corrour tragedy when four people died of hypothermia
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