A wellie good idea

Route: Beinn Mhanach

Munros: Beinn Mhanach

Date walked: 22/02/2020

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 20km

Once more it was matching diaries that dictated when Dave and I should attack this outlying Munro rather than a reasonable weather forecast. With storms Ciara and Dennis still lingering an all too familiar Amber weather warning greeted us in Crianlarich YHA Friday evening.
It made for a restless night hearing the wind and rain outside but also: would we, could we or should we negotiate the seven river fordings on route to the base of Beinn Mhanach?
Between us we adopted two techniques: Dave went for sacrificial trainers and socks; I gave wellington boots a go.
The morning of the walk snow greeted us in Crianlarich. Even more as we passed through Tyndrum to BofO. The wind had dropped and snow flurries are always better than rain.
After crossing the stone bridge where the WHW crosses we decided to stay on the western side of the river in some mistaken belief it would avoid a river crossing but it was heavy going and a scaffolding bridge under the viaduct allowed us back on the path proper. The first ford was reassuringly calm when previous reports said the first two were the worst. I was able to cross with ease without the water going anywhere near the top of my boots. There after I was content I’d made the right call. Of course Dave’s feet were soaked and freezing for the next few hours.
By now the wind was really picking up causing a good chill factor. Some heat level was restored after we’d changed footwear and socks for the climb. I left my wellies by the significant bridge and with poles in hand we simply followed the fence line to the bealach. Very soon ski goggles were needed and buffs pulled up as hail bullets pinged off any exposed flesh. Bearing of to the east before reaching the bealach a direct line was made for the summit. Any snow and soft ground was replaced by exposed frozen earth nearer the top. Thankfully south westerly gale force winds propelled us from behind to the scrawny cairn which offered us zero respite from the wind. A very brief GPS check that that this was the top caused instant pain to my exposed hand. There would be no photo to capture this Munro bagging.

Let’s get off here! I screamed over the noise. But as I now headed into the wind at one point I stood still and was blown backwards sliding on the ice. Only digging in the poles and pushing down hill got me going again!
Slithering in the snow again allowed for a quick descent. We were soon back near the bridge but stopped to take some photos. At the bridge we bumped into two young blokes setting up to Mhanach. “What’s it like up there?” we were asked. “Got any ski goggles?” they were asked. “No”. “Oh! Good luck then” we replied as we skipped back down the valley.
Wellies back on for me. Soaking wet sponges back on for Dave. Poor Dave.
The wind and snow was relentless heading back to the car needing the goggles to stay on nearly all the way. Very happy with a round trip in 5 hrs 10mins in those conditions.
For this walk gum boots are the future.

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