A blog is long overdue – it’s been 18 months since the last time I put ‘pen to paper’! A lot has happen in that time, but rather than try to recap I thought I would jump right into my latest trip to Glencoe.
For once this trip wasn’t (directly) for photography. I was out to build upon my experience of the winter mountains in some varied conditions. As a result I carried a stripped down camera kit (or in the case of the first day, no camera at all).
From Monday to Friday I hiked over 60km taking in just 5000m of ascent and decent. For all but the Monday that meant ‘post-holing’ in often knee deep snow, an exhausting experience. I stayed at the Glencoe Independent Youth Hostel and met some like-minded folks who I hiked with on a couple of the days. Otherwise I hiked solo.
On Monday I went up two Munros near Bridge of Orchy, Stob a’ Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar. I saw almost nothing all day and was glad not to have taken my camera. Walking on my own was a tad boring, but I enjoyed it all the same.
On the second day I took on the ridge of Buachaille Etive Mor. The ascent through Coire na Tulaich was a little steeper than I would have liked. For the final section I resorted to using the pick of my ice axe, but with a bit of care I made it up OK.
On the third day I took on Sgorr Dhearg above Ballachulish with a couple of the guys from the bunkhouse, Andy and Simon. Originally we’d planned to do the other Munro, pictured below, but with wild wind conditions, a lot of snow and a known tricky step or two at the top of the mountain, we decided against it.
On my penultimate, fourth day, I awoke with snow to valley level. Rather than risk my car on the ‘steeper than ideal’ exit from the bunkhouse I decided to walk from there up the Pap and then Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh. The walk up was in heavy snow, and showers passed throughout the day but there were also some nice views. Regrettably I failed to make it to the top of the Pap when I found myself in a small avalanche prone section of slope just 10m below the summit! Equally I bailed on Sgorr Nam Fiannaidh because of tiredness hiking in the deep snow finishing just 100m below the summit although importantly with 800m of snow left to walk.
With the forecast for the weekend looking increasingly snowy, and already feeling very tired, I decided to go for one last day near Crianlarich with Simon and Andy and one of their friends, Danny. Simon wisely bailed before we even started (it was raining with low cloud). The hike started through woodland and continued up snowy slopes as the wind speed markedly accelerated. Our goal was Cruach Ardrain but we turned around some distance from the top. The wind was absolutely wild and made progress incredible difficult.
All in all a successful trip where I accomplished what I set out to do. I didn’t take many photographs, but actually it was nice for a change to hike with a lighter pack and simply enjoy the outdoors!