Sub zero wild camping and the wee Boochil

Route: Buachaille Etive Beag

Munros: Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)

Date walked: 25/02/2018

Time taken: 4.5 hours

The need to go wild camping again, had been far greater than any thoughts of the sub zero temperatures outside. Kevin who had successfully caught the hill walking bug from me, was equally happy to give wild camping a try (something he had never done before) and on Friday after work we were on the way to Glen Etive.

My spirits were high until we passed Rannoch Moor and far more snow patches than I had anticipated. :roll: Its sometimes really easy to forget how high Rannoch Moor actually is until you make your way down the long decent to Glen Coe. We arrived late at one of my favorite wild camping spots and my worry that someone else might had taken my space was pointless. The glen was pretty much deserted apart from a lonely camper van and during the
last few moments of day light we just managed to put the tent up, before night time approached.

Snow covered the mountain around us and an arctic wind gusts of 20 mph gusts made the outside temperature bitter cold. Based on my car it was -2C, but the wind chill factor must have been closer to -7C. :shock:

Attempting to cook dinner was a challenge in itself, as the water would not boil and the results after nearly 30 minutes of waiting was lukewarm partial boiled pasta. :-| :thumbdown: :( My spirits of happiness had disappeared in the same speed as did the feeling in my fingers and toes. :roll: :lol: Kevin on the other hand had a marvelous time trying to keep the small fire going he started. I on the other hand decided that enough is enough and retired into the tent. Wrapped up in my 2 down sleeping bags, fleece blanket around my head and still wearing all clothes, Kevin nearly peed himself laughing when he entered the tent seeing me drinking a bottle of beer and eating a bag of crisps through a tiny opening I left for my face. :lol:

Our wee fire...a great way to keep the impact of having a camp fire during wild camping a minimum

Beer certainly can improve any mood :thumbup: and when he gave me his jacket to put on, commenting that the gear I had on was now efficient for temperatures of -70C, I burst into fits of laughter. :lol: By the time it was time for bed I had warmed up enough to change into my PJs and tucked into my 2 sleeping bags I was cosy and had a rather comfortable night, only interrupted by gusts of gale force winds throughout the night, which shook my otherwise bomb proof tent.

During the next morning

We woke during a very cold morning and the countryside around us had frozen solid over night. When I told Kevin that I needed to go out for a quick wash he thought I had lost it completely, :wtf: but it is a sure way to wake up. Teeth
clattering, I stood on the edge of the burn having a wash, trying to ignore the frozen edge of the water...it certainly was cold! I raced back to the tent, fingers painfully cold and frozen and when I picked up the facecloth I had left
outside 20 min later, it was frozen solid. :shock:

Its cold when your face cloth freezes after 20 min of having a wash :lol: 8)

The arctic wind and lack of sunshine made us retreat to the red squirrel
campsite a couple of hours later, a wise decision as the sheltered sunny location meant we could enjoy the sun and thaw out. A day of doing absolutely nothing was exactly what I had needed after a busy day at work.

Defrosting at the Red Squirrel

Still in 4 layers, but finally warm

and its certainly a campsite with a view

A day of defrosting had worked its magic and the following morning, which was as crisp and sunny as one could wish a winters day to be, we made our way to climb Buachaille Etive Beag.

The wee Boochil is probably one of the easiest winter Munros to climb in Glen Coe and numerous cars showed its popularity at 9am during Sunday morning. We decided to stick with the Walkhighland route and climb Stob Dubh first. Following the path I was yet again reminded how spectacular Glen Etive can be on a sunny winters day. The ground was pretty much solid frozen and for the first time this year it was time for crampons :D

Kevin was giving his micro spikes a go and the hill was a good practice run, before we would venture out to more serious parts in the future. For the climb I will get the pictures speak...

The way up

Looking across towards the big Boochil.

Kevin on the way up

The summit of Stob Dubh in the distance

Spectacular Glen Coe

Last push towards the summit

Glen Etive

The summit



My favorite 'high heels'

Looking back

On the way back down

The view back towards Stob Dubh

Retracing our steps back the climb up Stob Coire Raineach was far more slushy than the first Munro. But still slidy enough to keep the crampons on. Kevin on his first outing doing two Munro's during one day was feeling his legs during the second push to the summit , so I took the opportunity to walk ahead to get some pictures.

The summit


Out towards Rannoch Mor


The Aonach Eagach towards the right

Down the glen

Once Kevin had joined me, we could not believe our eyes when we saw a rather ill equipped couple who had just climbed the Munro with one light day pack between them and no crampons and ice axe. :roll:

Sitting down for some late lunch we enjoyed the warm sunshine and spectacular views before packing up and making our way back down to the car.

A freezing weekend it had been, but with a day of climbing like this, all hardships was long forgotten and what stayed were memories of a fantastic day and photos to proove it.

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Comments: 1

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User avatar
Location: North Ayrshire
Occupation: HR
Activity: Munro compleatist
Pub: The one which serves beer
Place: Sutherland
Gear: My walking boots
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ1000
Ideal day out: Finding new routes up mountains, which involves a good scramble
Ambition: See the world

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 20
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 8
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