April,Thursday, Meanach bothy
Travelled up from London early. Changed at Glasgow and managed to arrive at Corrour station by 15 35. Walked in from there. My original intention had been to push on up the hill a bit further and stop but the drizzle that had been constant on the way in, had changed to sleety rain. Yep, sleet, spring comes late in these areas sometimes. There was still snow on the tops too; and me without my ice axe! Am still suffering deep shock from the assult on my senses, £4 for a cup of tea and a sandwich on the train.
Friday. Bivi'd gr 215688
Am just using an outer part of my hilleberg, thus saving weight. Today has been fantastic, although maybe a little hairy at times. Woke up to clear skies and no wind. Managed to be on the move by 0730am. The rain last night had given way to an early morning frost. Thus it was chilly. Pushed on up the hill and cut across to the bealach between Meall a Buirich and Stob Ban. From there took the ridge up to Stob Ban. Oh my, it was chilly on the top, with a light wind from the north. Snow covered too. Some wonderful views but I was keeping my eye on a bank of cloud in the distance. A slightly awkward drop down to Coire Rath. From there it was a case of straight up the ridge to Stob Coire Claurigh (1177m). Having done the ridge before I decided to miss out on Stob Coire na Ceannain. Mainly because one or two parts of the ridge are a wee bit narrow in places and seeing it totally snow covered, complete with double cornices, it may have proved interesting. As it was, picking my way along the main ridge took some concentation. The snow had managed to form itself into an almost perfect v, giving it a knife edge in some areas. Happily it was still frozen and had formed a good solid crust. Mind, crampons are best for frozen neve. This was where I could have done with at least an ice axe. However, it was a case of making do with the treking poles. Fortunately I still was wearing my heavier winter boots. This allowed me to kick step my way along. Oh my though, this was hard work. it is odd how the mind can play tricks on one. Although I was straddling the ridge in one two places, I was fairly secure. However, out of the corner of my eye I was conscious of the steep drops on either side. Pausing, turning and looking at the steep slopes was actually helpful. As I say odd, psychological really. On the limits possibly but remaining in control of the situation. The views where stunning, a bountious reward for some hard endeavour. Came around to Stob Coire an Laoigh and paused for a break. Sitting in a snow bank having a nibble when something caught my eye. An eagle coming across from the Ben and drifting lazily across the tops. it passed only a few feet from me, awesome. Coming down off Sgurr Choinich Beag was, to say the least, tricky. At first deep snow near the top and very steep. Went in waist deep in one place, floundering around in that stuff and with a pack that was not that light was tiresome. Furhter down it was all steep boulder and scree which meant more floundering around. Once I had made it down to the head of Glen and looking back up the hill there was drunken trail all the way down until the snow ran out. It looked even steeper from the floor of the glen. Am snug tonight and totally shattered. had a few snow flurries on top but nothing serious , in between I enjoyed wondeful views and a spot of sunshine.
Saturday. Bivi,d Gr134709. Have just snuck off the road and managed to hide myself in a clump of tree. Temperature dropped last night to below freezing. Ice on the bivi this morning. Picked my way across and up over Sgurr Eilde Mor. A steep haul up and an intersting descent. The loch at Coire an Lochain was frozen, a solid sheet of ice. Heading up to Sgor Eilde Beag was a tad daunting. A deep, frozen snow bank led some tricky scrambling. Once more it was a case of step kicking my way up; thrusting my poles in to maintain some semblance of balance. I was consuming my nibbles at an alarming rate and was in danger of running out before the day was over. However, Those extra calories where very much needed on the steep uphill sections. From there though it was some excellent ridge walking around to Na Gruagaichean., a stiffish pull up through boulders to the summit. For the first time in the last couple of days actually met a few other people out on the hill. From the summit I was aware of the steep drop down with an awkward saddle to cross. somehow, it seemed worse than when I had previously done it. Lots of semi loose stuff, some ice and snow mixed in. This led to some very awkward manouvering, feet, hands and one point a knee. Most undignified. Grunt, mutter, mutter and a heave up. That was almost the worst point of the day. not the worst though, that was to come. Once I had past that point it led to some fine ridge walking. Made a mistake though, knowing how steep the pull up over Am Bodach was I decided to take the other way around the side. there is never much in the way of a path at the best of times. Now though I faced another snow bank on some fairly steep ground. Picked my way up through the boulders to the foot of the bank. It looked intimidating, very. The trouble was, time was getting on and I really did not want to be heading down in the dark. It was steep enough to have to crab sideways up the face of it. A few kicks with the boot into really hard packed snow, bring the lower foot up, thrust the pole in for support and teeter on the narrow ledge just kicked. Repeat the process again and again, all the way up to the ridge. All the time aware of the steep angle and the boulders below. Not a place to slip. A last; and by now, weary, haul up to Sgorr an Lubhair.. A pause to savour the wonderful panoramic vista. The Ben, mantled in snow to quite low down and for once not looking it's usual sombre self. wave upon wave of hills fading into the distance. Days like this are to be cherished. A reward for the hard work put in.. A long descent down to Achriabhach. Had been considering staying high as I had done previously and nipping up Stob ban in the morning. (The other Stob Ban.) The folk I had met had warned me of rain forecast in the morning, thus headed down. Also, I had to be in Fort William for the 1120am bus. it would have been a push. Wild camping down low in the glen is not easy. Finally managed to creep in to this spinney, right next to the river. Today has been long and hard. The rewards hard won. It has meant over twelve hours on the go. Two excellent days on the hills have left me bone weary and feeling my age. Tonight I am just drinking and drinking, very aware that I am badly dehydated. Finding water on the Mamores is never that easy. It can be found in summer ok, but with everything frozen it is a different story.
Sunday. Well deciding to bivi low was the right move. This morning it is raining steadily and the tops are obscured in cloud. A brew of tea on the last of the gas and then a stroll down the glen to F.W. It will be in to Nevis Sports for breakfast and then long run back.