Winter Walking

  • Sunday 3rd February 2019

  • Stuchd an Lochain

It’s the right time of year here in Scotland to be out and about practicing some winter mountaineering.

So the weather forecast on Stuchd an Lochain predicted nice views at the summit as it was going to be a sunny kind of day, cold with snow on the ground but views to make your heart skip a beat. I have read that summit views are superb.

Getting to the start of this walk isn’t the easiest of tasks. There are 20 miles of single track road to negotiate.

On reaching the mountain range you could already tell there was going to be a massive dumping of snow on the mountain. All around us things were white, it was so beautiful.

Once layered up and ready to go we had only been 10 minutes into the walk when it was crampon and ice axe time.

The initial climb was steep and in addition to this it was covered in snow which had frozen over so there was no grip whatsoever. However the crampons overcame this problem and we were on our way…slowly.

Temperatures were cold, skies were not blue and we could hardly see a thing!

We reached the ridge traverse which follows around above a Corrie cradling little Lochan nan Cat…but the delight we were meant to have witnessed was a complete whiteout and we were lucky to be able to just see what was in front of us never mind a view!

We followed a line of fenceposts which helped us to get to the summit more quickly.

We persevered but were not rewarded with 360 views. It was another whiteout, windy but bearable with hat and hoods on.

At this stage we should have saw Ben Nevis clear to the north, Rannoch Moor to the north west, Glencoe to the south east and Schiehallion and Ben Lawers to the south west, it should have been simply stunning.

On reaching the summit and feeling tired as it had been hard work on the legs and shoulders getting to here, we pulled out our shelter for a 10 minute rest, recharge of the batteries and dined on our spicy chicken and bean soup…such a delight!

Due to conditions we didn’t waste much time as we wanted off this mountain before darkness fell as it was quite technical.

It was very slow going as things were very steep and very slippy. Darkness came but due to the snow lying on the ground it kept things light enough until we were eventually down which felt good.

It had been a hard challenging day in tough conditions.

The Giorra Dam taken from the parking area

  • Thursday 14th February 2019
  • Meall Ghaordaidh

Today’s peak is Meall Ghaordaidh , approximately 10km north-west of Killin.

Meall Ghaordaidh is not a massively distinguished peak. Some have called it ‘a characterless lump’! I have decided to make up my own mind.

So we headed of early to get to our destination at a reasonable time. On reaching the one and only lay by nearby we parked the car. Standing outside it was warm with no wind….we were excited by the opportunity of some good weather, we were being spoiled. The forecast predicted good weather so could superb visibility be in store at the summit?

Firstly we started off walking through some lovely farm track, then onto a grassy hillside.

From here it was a gradual climb all the way to the top.

Today snow conditions were non existent so no crampons were required. However todays terrain did involve walking through peat bogs all the way to the summit with some boulder scrambling right at the top. It was ‘mushy’, but pretty straight forward.

Spoiler Alert – the weather did not turn out to be all that! As we ascended it got windier, it got colder and literally 10 minutes from the top the clouds ascended…why does this happen to us!

Nevertheless, the clouds did break for a minute or so, we saw a view, took a few quick photos and it was gone.

We then had to retrace our steps on our return.

If I am being honest it was probably one of the less inspiring Munro’s I’ve done but its a Munro that had to be done if we are going to bag them all.

And we got to see one of these!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Helena Brogan says:

    Hi Mary there was me thinking you must be having a lazy February watching Box Sets slumped on the Settee😀……not a chance!! I wonder how many more Munroes you’ve still to do? Lovely contrasting scenery though. Did you walk when we were all having our mini heatwave? That was weird don’t you think…..we were sitting in the garden a few days having lunch😎. Don’t think we’ve done that in February before. I thought that last photo of the creature was a snake at first then I noticed the feet….was it a lizard? I always thought they preferred hot climates. I hear your off to Russia soon..glad your going in a group though. Although generally Russians are a kind people those in authority not so good. Don’t know if you watched Simon Reeves trip to Russia…..they had some hairy moments even with BBC camera crew tagging along. Xx

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    1. Hi there….lol lazy February ..of course not! I have several hundred more Munro’s still do unfortunately 😮..not even a quarter of the way there yet 😩…trying to tick off as many as we can this year though…they’re getting further and further afield so it means more travelling to get to them! So no…I wasn’t out hillwalking in the mini heatwave which is typical! But yes what glorious weather we had although it’s now back to winter here…the plants that are budding will be getting the fright of their lives as it’s back to being cold and windy. When we did those walks it was in the space of a week… unbelievable the difference wasn’t it! So the creature in the photo was a newt…you don’t see them much but we managed to spot him on the way up. Yes…were all booked up for Russia…group of 8 of us going…some of our Everest Base Camp Crew Friends…not all of them of course! We have also booked a Russian Guide so he’s been pretty good helping us with visa entry etc although that’s still to be processed….although at this stage my thinking is no visa no mountain…could be on to a good thing 😂🙈….yes I watched Simon Reeves in Russia…pretty sketchy stuff…totally admire what he does. Were actually going to a talk of his on 31st March in Edinburgh so really looking forward to that…we went to a talk done by Levison Woods last year which was amazing…he’s the guy that walked the Himalayas, length of the River Nile etc. Hope you guys are all doing well x

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  2. Alice Reid says:

    So you’re getting back into practice for Rus sia Very different weather from one week to next. Just like here but we don’t have the snow . Remember onc Christmas in Switzerland we had a “whiteout”. Very weird as we couldn’t see ahead but fortunately the path was quite well marked but I must say it was a bit scary as the weather had been O.K. when we set out. It was the silence I noticed more than anything. I still have my crampons but don’t think I’ll have much use fot them now. What was the name of the little loch I saw in one of the pictures. Did you go down to it or was that just a step too far. Wonder if there will be snow on the Caucas
    es in summer? Hope arrangements going forward O.K. How about the American guy?Wonder if he’ll have problems. Keep them coming which Munro is it next. Love/God Bless. Aunty Alice xxx

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    1. Hello…yes very much getting into serious practice now for the Russia trip otherwise I could be in trouble 😮…nerves kicking in now!

      Couldn’t believe in the space of one week the difference in the weather when out walking. Even here today it’s back to cold and wet compared to last week’s beautiful spring weather.

      Switzerland would be beautiful winter time I bet! We were pretty much as you described yours….whiteout and had to follow fenceposts which we knew took you to the top as we had read about it beforehand.

      So the water you saw in the photo was actually part of the dam where we started our walk from. We couldn’t see the small loch further up due to weather.

      Yes there will be snow in the Caucasus mountains in July… Elbrus has snow on it all year round so it’s a definite we will be using crampons and ice axes 😳….were in the process of getting our visas…the rest of the group have not yet applied for theirs but we’ve encouraged the American to do so asap just incase he has problems!!

      Munro’s are now getting further and further away so more planning needed as we will have to now stay over night before in order to do them…camping season can’t come soon enough!!!

      Hope all is well with you guys xxx

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  3. Theresa Skelhorn says:

    Good to see you are getting some practice in for your next adventure climbing Mount Elbrus. I didn’t realise when you mentioned it last week in your message that you were doing it with some of your group from the basecamp Everest. Sharing the experience makes it even better.

    The recent pictures you posted looks as if they are from different seasons we now seem to be back to Winter here at the moment so fire back on in the evenings

    Love Theresa x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi yes . ..So the Elbrus idea all came about in our EBC WhatsApp chat…then again when a few of us met up at the wedding last year in Brighton…WARNING…never agree on anything after too many wines, especially climbing mountains!!! 🙄😲🙈…so yes it’s actually worked out that everyone that went to the wedding and one other are all going so that will be good as they are all really nice and we bonded well…the good thing about this is we have now managed to book a guide based around our number so we will be a small group which will work out better on this mountain!

      The couple we met from Brighton were actually up here in Scotland over the weekend practicing their winter mountain skills before the trip..it has been said Scotland is ideal for this so we’re pretty lucky….just need more snow instead of rain!!

      Those last pictures were contrasting indeed and in the space of one week…just goes to show the weather doesn’t know what it’s doing….were now back to miserable and wet and like you heating back on, depressing stuff!

      Hope all is well with you x

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