Let one go to find the meaning of life

Route: A'Chralaig and Mullach Fraoch-choire

Munros: A' Chralaig, Mullach Fraoch-choire

Date walked: 15/11/2019

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 13km

This is one of those reports where it is more about what I learned. Every walk I do, I seem to learn something new. Last walk I did was really in May as I have been busy with other things. So I waited until there was deep snow and freezing temperatures. Seems a good plan. I set off in the camper on Tuesday afternoon with dire warnings being issued from my wife about safety and so on which were all met with reassurances that I would be fine as I had all gear; personal locater beacon, bivvy bag, two person shelter, spare food, foil blanket, head torch, hand warmers. And so on. I was confident.
It was a slog up to A'Chralaig, as the snow was just hard enough to have a crust then break through when I put my weight on it. I must be unfit as it took me ages. Putting on crampons then taking them off again was a pain. It was a combination of the spikes hitting the edge of a rock and tipping my foot over but too slippy not to have them on. Once at the top, it didn't look too bad to carry on after a rest and a bite to eat. But then it started to get scary and I wanted to be off the mountain. Squeezing between two boulders, I slipped and pitched forward. The ice axe spun round and the cutting edge hit the ground with my hand still around it. The pointy bit stuck into my chest and prodded me. Luckily the boulders arrested any further falling or this could have been a different story. Impaled on my own ice axe - it would have made the papers!
It's a very sharp ridge and the snow had piled up. I was at times traversing on deep snow at any angle which seemed like 60 degrees. At one point some snow gave way and slid down the hill. Oh my god, I was in a fair panic. Looking ahead to the next one I thought it's only a small amount more and it would be a shame to miss it after coming so far. Then I got closer and realised it looked like some nightmarish version of the crazy pinnacles but covered in deep snow. I decided not to do it. I felt comforted that I was being wise. So, how to get down? The bealach leading down to Coire a Ghlas Thuil looked a possibility but when I got closer I decided it was too steep a descent and to push on to the descent on the WH route. My legs had started to cramp up and I had to stop every so often to ease them off. At the start of this final ridge I could not believe how steep it was and narrow. It took me all my nerve and progressing at a snails pace to get down it. The descent off to the left looked impossibly steep and I began to wonder how I was going to get off. By now, my legs were having regular spasms. I contemplated going back the way I had come but I had no energy left to do that reverse route. I sat down in the snow and decided this is the time to admit defeat and call mountain rescue. I was exhausted, in a state of fear and could see no way to get down. I thought of my wife and my children and how they would feel if I didn't make it. Once last check of the map and I realised the descent was about another 20m further on from where I was, But I couldn't see that far as there was another lump of rock covered in snow and with a tiny sliver of a possible path to the right that had a tremendously steep side. I decided to try it and take my time. Ice axe in at a slight backward angle, test it's security, heave one leg forward and bear through the cramping sensation and plant it firmly in the snow making sure it was stable. Repeat for next foot. I had moved about half a metre and it had taken half a minute. Eventually, I made it round and saw that the descent angle was maybe just possible. Still very steep and scary. I was descending and my right crampon became loose and skittered away from me by about two metres. I had to retrieve it very slowly and putting it back on was no fun. I looked towards the snow line and wished I was there. Eventually I did get down and I reflected on how close I had come to giving in and calling for help and how close I had come to possible death or serious injury.
At this point, the tears began to flow. I have so much to live for - stuff I had taken for granted. Even writing this, I feel emotional. It's given me a scare. I'm not going to do such serious walking by myself again in such conditions. I also need to up my fitness levels for walks like this.
Back at the camper, there was a string of messages from my wife, She was worried as I was later calling in than I said, but not yet late enough to initiate our back up plan. I leave her with my route and timings so she knows when I'm off. Curiously, she was at work and at the time I was having my most scary moments, she was overcome with a feeling of anxiety about me.
I stayed the night in the camper, but the heater stopped working so I was freezing - or at least not as cozy as I had planned to be. It seemed a trivial worry after the day's events. Then I saw a mouse. Then another mouse. Oh jc, they looked so cute, I fed them a bit of my biscuit. But was kept awake all night with them running around. Now that I am home, there will be mouse traps deployed.
This is a slightly sorry tale, but it was actually boosted my joy for life. Maybe facing a potentially life threatening situation has given me a reminder of all that there is to be joyful for. It was worth letting one go for that. After all, it will still be there and I will still be here to go back and get it.
Not so may pics but one of the pinnacles looking impassible - at least for me. Know thine own limits. I found mine

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Comments: 7

Hoping for snow

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Ben Tirran
Date walked: 03/02/2019
Distance: 15km
Comments: 2
Views: 641

Aonach Beag Four from Culra Bothy

Attachment(s) Munros: Aonach Beag (Alder), Beinn Eibhinn, Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Geal-charn (Alder)
Date walked: 15/01/2019
Distance: 50km
Ascent: 1240m
Comments: 2
Views: 1094

A tough initial climb.

Attachment(s) Munros: A' Bhuidheanach Bheag, Carn na Caim
Date walked: 07/07/2016
Distance: 19km
Ascent: 831m
Comments: 1
Views: 1187


Activity: Mountain Walker

Munros: 183
Corbetts: 2

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Trips: 3
Distance: 78 km
Ascent: 1240m
Munros: 6
Corbetts: 1


Trips: 1
Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 831m
Munros: 2

Joined: Oct 16, 2015
Last visited: Jul 31, 2020
Total posts: 5 | Search posts