Friday, 3 May 2013

Winter in spring

In the last week I have managed 7 new Munros but it's not been easy.
Last Saturday on the back of a decent forecast I decided to make an early start and headed north to Glen Shiel with the intention of staying north for 2 days and practice camping with my new tent.
It's a 3 hour drive and once the correct starting point had been found I emerged. TBH I had been hoping that the white stuff wasn't going to be too bad and had been dismayed to see the S Clunie ridge plastered. The day I had planned was the Saddle and Sgurr nan Sgine which includes the Forcan ridge which has a grade 2 scramble. Feeling I might be biting off more than I could chew I set off up the excellent stalkers path which takes you to the base of the Forcan ridge, so called because once seen you might exclaim Forcan hell!!
I had spotted a group of 4 climbers, caught them up and atached myself to them. They were v v careful and slow which suited me and we slowly made our way along the airy, exposed ridge covered in soft snow. We spent the next hour crawling over the stunning rock until a point was reached where a down climb was needed and we headed down before that point , came back up at which point I bade them farewell and headed down to walk below the difficulty. A hard march through  deep snow to the top of the Saddle followed and I sumitted at last. Not sure how this bear got in my bag!

Then is was back down through the snow to the bealach, up to the 2nd summit, where a strong wind had picked up. My heel was now hurting and I spent a long time working my way off. Finally over 8 hours after leaving the car I was back. It was late, raining and I decided I was going home. I finally made it home at 11pm, 15 hours after leaving.

On Tuesday I drove north again. A good forecast lured me a day earlier than planned. The day's targets were Meall na Teanga nad Sron a  choire ghairbh. A 2 mile drive down a decent track from Laggan locks to Kilfinan and I was on the bike for 2 miles then up the great route to the bealach at 600m. Two unremarkable hills later and a cycle back and the day was over in 5.5 hrs. I headed to a campsite at Roy bridge called Bunroy. On a lovely evening my tent was at last erected in anger.
After a fairly wet night I headed off to meet John King at Spean bridge. Burnt porridge is OK btw. Then we had a v wet drive north to Torridon and found the lovely hostel. We changed plans as the day was now looking good and headed for Beinn Eighe.

 At 1pm we set off for Coire mic fearcher. What an amazing spot!
We took a v direct route up to Ruadh stac mor and were rewarded with stunning views.

Then it was a lovely traverse of the ridge to Spidean coire nan clach.
Now the descent it has to be said was dodgy. For the 1st time we encountered ice and had to dig the heels in hard to get down as we had left the crampons in the car!
The off was down to the right of the ridge on the below photo and then a scree run and eventually back to the car. It was a stunning late evening and we got back to the hostel at 9pm. A truly stunning day, I cant remember a better one.

The next day the weather was very different. Snow was forecast. We headed up Ben Alligan but it was thick clag by 300m and haevy snow by 600m. The crampons went on at 700m and we did make the 1st munro before a sensible decision to go down was made. The weather just got worse after that. So  will have to return to Ben Alligan but we had a full on winter experience in May!