Bad day at the office

Grahams: Sgorr a'Choise

Date walked: 17/12/2017

Time taken: 5.2 hours

Distance: 11km

Ascent: 712m

Bad day at the office 11km 712m 5.20h 17/12/2017

Early start finds me @ Ballahulish cp. 0815, winter gear on and I`m heading up Gleann an Fhiodh. My grahams today, a pairing of Sgorr a Choise with Meall Mor. It’s a cold –3 and icy underfoot. Leaving my poles in the car, I carry iceaxe and crampons just in case. On crossing a bridge over the river Laroch, I note it has a good flow of water, one I will need to cross further upstream. Pass a school, two farm gates for a snowy field with sheep. Higher up reaches another gate, the track now invisible in deeper snow. Umteen burns run down from the slopes of Beinn a Bheither, I’ve bin there twice, in summer and winter. The schoolhouse ridge scramble, always better in winter and from its top, a perfect snow arc, down and round to Sgorr Dhearg - jist magical to be on ! Back to the task in hand and it`s become a slog, later at the canteen I`ll be told “Aye we`d a fair dump of snow in the last twa days”, great. Past the bulk of Mor - trees cover this side of the hill and run up to a col between Choise. Clag covers both tops. Perhaps it will blow over. Then to an icy bowl in a tree lined burn, with plenty water coming down as I skid my way across turning my knee in the process. Not a good start. The further I travel up the glen, the deeper the snow gets, so drop to the Laroch river and cross over rock channels for aspens on the far bank. The idea is to gain height in the trees then angle across the slope to reach the ridge. Greasy going over a mossy area, clears the trees to reach open ground. The steeper slopes hold a lesser depth of snow but hides deep heather beneath. The problem being, like bracken, it never grows the way you want it to! Push on. The long handle of my axe gives purchase where the poles maybe couldn’t. The wind picks up and another swath of cloud drifts in. Sunshine up there somewhere, a no show, then after a forever grunt, I finally make the ridge. In clag now, I turn N and climb slowly for the top of Sgorr a`Choise. Cold wind whips snow around me as I reach the small flat top and its clutch of stones. I pull out my mat to sit on them to take on food. Ice in my water bottle chew on an energy bar as mist swirls about me. Pain returns when I stand up. Unsure of the conditions ahead. I forgo with what I want and go with what I know; there’s aye another day. Pack and shoulder the sac, then descend the ridge. Below the clag and across the water, stands a cairn. Here I angle down to and cross at a shallow bend in the river for a looksee. The cairn is only a waymarker, a turnoff point for the glens of Creran or Duror. The snow is calf deep here as I plough my way back to find my inward tracks. Relief. The walk back is slower, a higher crossing of the burn and a return to habitation for warming coffee at the café. The change of gear is not without pain then a drive home. Not a happy chappy, long way to come for one and will likely repeat this route when I come back for Meall Mor.
Ah well - as an Aussie boss of mine was fond of saying ” 19 fights, 19 knockouts. Ah well,
yuh caint win them all .” Seen enroute Sheep, eagle following me up the glen, few birds in the fields, no one on the hills. Folk and waggies back in the village. Lowlying mist from Loch Tulla to Tyndrum visibility down to some 30 / 50m didn`t stop the madcaps in fast cars and 4x4s overtaking everyone driving sanely. The expected pileup didn`t happen and we all got home safely.

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Comments: 4

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Activity: Mountaineer
Mountain: The Cobbler
Place: Skye
Gear: Yeti gaiters
Member: Kilmarnock Mountaineering Club
Ideal day out: A scramble in Glencoe or the Ben

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 222
Grahams: 127
Donalds: 89
Wainwrights: 27
Hewitts: 38
Sub 2000: 7
Long Distance routes: River Ayr Way   

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Joined: Apr 08, 2012
Last visited: Jan 19, 2018
Total posts: 110 | Search posts

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