Never go walking with a Bon Jovi fan...lesson learned!!
by jstalker66621 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:51 pm
Route description: Brothers Ridge - Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg
Munros included on this walk: Aonach Meadhoin, Saileag, Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg
Date walked: 19/10/20111 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The targets on this occasion were to lie deep in the heart of Glen Sheil, one of the most beautifully mountainous areas I had ever set foot in. Mike had asked me along to try the Brothers ridge, not as well known as the Sisters ridge, and certainly not as arduous or popular as the South Glen Sheil ridge, but challenging in it's own right.
I set off on Saturday afternoon for an overnight stay at Drumnadrochit, it may well be an age thing but I do like to be relaxed the night before a walk, in the Drumnadrochit hotel. I had stayed there once before, following an ascent of the South Glen Sheil ridge last year, so knew what to expect from my stay. The rooms are clean and tidy, the staff helpful (once I explained my early departure the following morning I was allowed to pay in advance and even got money off for missing breakfast), and the location superb. They even let me sit in the closed dining area when I explained that I was getting no wifi signal in my room...Barca were playing after all and it helps me relax.
Mike got in touch before I retired for the night to let me know that it would just be the two of us, despite at least two others intimating that they would be joining us this time, which at least meant the Polo would not be overly taxed with heavy walkers weighing her down...she is only little!!
After 45 minutes of being mesmerised by Messi and co I headed upstairs for an earlyish night, head full of dreams of what was to come tomorrow...
I was up, showered, packed and out the door by half past seven on Sunday morning, meeting Mike at the Cluanie Inn at twenty past eight meant I would need all my time getting there safely at a leisurely pace. I arrived bang on time and transferred Mikes gear into my car and left his car at the Cluanie for when we got off the ridge. One last final check that he had everything he needed, and had left the things in his car that he would require for the finish, like a dry change of clothes etc, and off we set along the A87 to the start point seven miles away. Now as I was driving I was CLEARLY concentrating on the road and expecting Mike to be on the look-out for the parking area...yet we completely missed it the first time and had to do a u-turn (admittedly only a short distance past it) and come back up to it. An inauspicious start?? Oh I'm sure we wont make such an error as that again today!!
We packed up our gear and checked twice to make sure we had everything we needed...yet somehow I managed to leave without picking up my GPS from the boot when I had carefully left it sitting next to my walking poles so that I would remember it prior to departure!! Thankfully we had only gone a few hundred yards when I noticed and ran back for it. Departure take two!!
Mike had headed off along a clear path, passing through a gate, to start slogging uphill...then realised that it was the wrong path and came back towards me...Departure take three!!
We set off back along the road for a short distance, towards the sign for Glen Sheil beside some forestry fences, then cut off uphill at a (blink and you would miss it) rough outline of a path heading up through boggy slopes (oh my favourite).
We climbed initially in clear skies and almost sunshine...would the gods be kind to us today...?? Well what do you think?? Within minutes of hitting the slopes it started to rain, just drizzle to start with, but enough to make the path boggier than before and have us slipping about it like Bambi on ice...we followed the path across a stream and skirted round the slopes on a relatively flat bit...until Mike realised that we should have kept to the left hand side of the stream and followed an even fainter path up it to the summit of the ridge...well we were not going to double back on ourselves, even if it were just a short distance, so plodded up the slopes we currently found ourselves on...how much harder could it be for goodness sake?? Apparently the answer was much harder!! This would probably not be much of an issue in decent weather, with drier underfoot conditions to contend with, but today it was a nightmare!! If we thought we had been slipping about a lot before it was nothing compared to how often we would take a step up and slide two back as the grass gave way beneath us!! Halfway up and the heavens really opened...so I stopped to put on my waterproof over trousers...within five minutes of putting on my waterproof I had to answer a call of nature...I positioned myself on the wet slopes with the wind blowing away from me...prepared for the feeling of relief that would follow...then the wind changed and I peed all over my waterproofed leg!!! Aaaarggghhh remind me again what it is I find enjoyable about all of this??
We trudged on up the slopes for what seemed like forever, continuing to slip every few steps, until we stepped onto the summit ridge. As if by magic, or some kind hearted gesture, the rain stopped at this point, though not enough to make us relax and remove waterproofs.
We laughed about how hard we had found that ascent but knew deep down that the hardest part was probably over...we had gained height. The path on the ridge is very clear and can be followed all the way along to the final height before descent...but I'm getting ahead of myself...we noticed that the rain may have ceased but the wind had picked up as we had gained the ridge. "Not to worry, I'm sure we have walked in worse than this"...was our initial thought...but now (after the event) I'm not so sure. When two large built blokes weighing between 14.5 stone and 16 stone (but you carry it so well Mike) struggle to stand upright and start to get blown over you just know it's a strong wind!! The path along the ridge may well have been obvious but it became clear that we would have to err on the side of caution at times and avoid the path if the ridge thinned out near the edge of any steep drops, just to avoid the possibility of being blown off. It didn't even have the decency to be blowing us along the ridge, rather it was coming in at us from our right side, so we looked a right pair of charlies constantly leaning to the left as we were buffeted along...
We reached the summit of Saileag 956m after a remarkably short distance, so much so that we didn't realise it was the summit until we double checked our GPS devices. The wind at this point was horrendous...so Jelly McBaby was risk assessed and remained in the rucksack for the entire duration of the walk...if I couldn't stand upright what chance did the wee fella have??!!
We took a couple of pics at the summit cairn then carried on our merry way, swaying from side to side as the wind buffeted us then stopped then buffeted again all the way along the ridge towards Sgurr a Bhealach Dheirg.
We descended and ascended a couple of minor tops along the ridge, taking pics at the occasional breaks in the rain that had started again just as we had left the summit.
Then just as we thought we had seen the worst of the weather...the mist rolled in. Now we knew it was never going to be an easy day...but come on!!
We continued being blown along the path until we arrived at a steep climb heading to the summit...or so we thought initially...as the climb flattens out and heads off south-east to a cairn, which you could believe was the summit cairn if you didn't know you had to scramble along a narrow ridge to reach the true summit...which we did (it pays to do your homework) and so set off along the rocky spur to the true summit cairn of Sgurr a Bhealach Dheirg 1038m.
How on earth the cairn maintains it's hold on the Munro in weather like this is beyond belief...We scrambled up to the cairn and took the usual pics, taking extra care not to be blown off as the drop looked quite scary from my perch on the edge of the cairn. The rocks were soaking and very slippery and the wind was brutal...at one stage I had went to take a pic and the wind blew the camera round in my grip so I missed my shot!!!
Once we had taken our pics we reversed our steps and got back onto the relative safety of the ridge...only one more summit to go...a personal landmark approached.
There was one more summit before the Munro...a few drops and ascents to contend with afterwards also...and we stopped for a sandwich break below the 938m top before Aonach Meadhoin.
The weather had broken in our favour at this stage and we were able to sit in relative calm for five minutes whilst Mike tucked into his sandwich and I tanned a few flapjack bites (good for slow release energy), then we were off and upwards to the summit itself...then down and back up to the summit cairn on Aonach Meadhoin 1001m.
Mike set up the tripod again and we braved the wind and rain to celebrate with a pic at the cairn for my 141st Munro...exactly halfway point now that one has been demoted to Corbett status.
We followed the path off the top and traversed another two tops (Sgurr an Fhuarail at 986m and another unnamed top at 843m) before finally making our way down steep grassy slopes back to the Cluanie Inn...unfortunately they were even worse for slipping than the climb up initially had been...Mike was on the verge of losing his composure at one stage after his umpteenth fall and slide down on his knees...zorbing would have been a great idea from the top of here...and so much quicker!!
Though the path was faint it was also pretty obvious in clear conditions, thankfully we had left the mist behind and only had the wind and rain to contend with on the way down. Mike realised that we had actually made good time, considering the state of us, and could feasibly make it back to the Cluanie Inn within five hours of leaving there this morning...zorbing would have taken at least another half hour off of that!!
We arrived at the bottom of the hill and had only one more hazard to cross before reaching the Inn...a small ditch and some rusty barbed wire fencing. Mike managed to fall in the ditch and I managed to cut my hand and gash my leg (but not tear my new trousers) on the fencing as I attempted to stand on it to let Mike cross it safely...DOH!!!
Once back at the car Mike got changed out of his wet clothes and asked me to pass him his dry trainers for driving in...except they were nowhere to be seen...ah the final turn of events for this trip...he had packed them up and left them in my car way back at the start point...DOUBLE DOH!!! He then had to drive the seven miles along the road to my car in his socks...never the easiest thing to do after such a day of hard graft. Once back at my car we sorted ourselves out and said our goodbyes...only 12 days till we return and attempt another two Munro's up here A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire...
Oh and the Bon Jovi reference in the title...when we reached the final cairn Mike turns to me and says "it's just like that song...we're halfway there...and earlier when the wind almost blew us off the ridge we were living on a prayer" which I now cannot get out of my head...cheers for that bud!!!
With my Munro high in full buzz the 3.5 hour drive home was a pleasant blur, full of smiles and the occasional chuckle about what we had just gone through...goodness knows what other motorists must think I'm up to on the journey home!!!
Hopefully the next trip will see Jelly McBaby return safely to his rightful place on Munro cairns.....
On a sad note; I was gutted to hear that a walker from my hometown had died on the same walk the day before we were out. It makes you think seriously about the dangers of what we do for enjoyment, then we move on and go do it anyway because we love it so much. Thoughts and prayers for his family.
by MarilynMunro » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:41 am
What a tale and what determination, well done to you both, and best of all you could still laugh at the end
by jstalker66621 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:01 am
- On a very very windy Saileag summit
- Holding on at the summit of Sgurr a Bhealach Dheirg
- Aonach Meadhoin...my 141st Munro
by jstalker66621 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:03 am
- Slogging up wet slopes
- Between Saileag and Sgurr a Bhealach Dheirg
- From Sgurr a Bhealach Dheirg to Aonach Meadhoin
- Time for a sandwich stop in between rain showers...two down one to go
- This where Zorbing would have come in handy...all the way back to Loch Cluanie
by dogplodder » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:13 pm
by jstalker66621 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:21 pm
by dogplodder » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:30 pm
jstalker66621 wrote:I can empathise completely with her then...I have no head for heights myself...but perversely its the one thing that drives me onto push myself onto these Munro's...and love every second of it. Aonach Eagach still remains my best memory of this year. Forcan ridge and An Teallach are already planned for next year.
You're a masochist!
by jstalker66621 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:56 pm
by pollyh33 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:10 pm
Real laugh out load stuff!!
by jstalker66621 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:47 pm
by jstalker66621 » Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:12 pm
by Mountainlove » Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:09 pm
by ChrisW » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:51 am
by jstalker66621 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:38 pm