Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bobinson, Bob and Leroi’s Christmas Adventure Part II

BANG ! There was bright lights  everywhere ! In the window and the door, voices were muffled due to my IPod playing in my ears !

Guys stumbled into the door like a SWAT entry team,shouting are you OK.

Shocked I sat up and finally made coherent conversation.

Turns out that SPOT have changed the settings on the “HELP” button that I use as an alternative message, instead of sending “I am Camped here” to my contacts, it had sent about 6 messages and SPOT SAR had sent me 2 texts asking me if I was OK.

With no mobile signal (hence the SPOT) I did not get this and after a pow wow of friends and rescue services, the moore guys from Kingussie RAF SAR were deployed in my direction !

After much chat and the insistence from “Control” that I was to be walked out, the poor guys left back into the wind and rain to bog trot back over to the Landrovers by the Pattack.

I didn’t really get much sleep after that mulling over what had just happened and the fact that those poor guys had been put at risk on Christmas Day whilst I slept fine and well !

The guys had mentioned that the footbridge at the ford was now underwater so my plan was to use the small track on the other side of the river from the bothy.

100mph gust were forecast and that’s why “Control” wanted to walk me out.

By half eight in the morning the sun was coming up but the cloud was still low on the hills.

I had a chat with the boys next door, they were planning on heading back to Dalwhinnie as well.

I packed BOB carefully making sure all items were in their dry bags preparing for the worse !

Essentials to survival were packed in the Endurance on my back incase BOB and Leroi went for a swim that I could not control.

In the end the track was good and with the gusts pushing me along it made for a pleasant cycle back to the main track.

I looked down at the footbridge and could see a police Landrover sitting abandoned, the boys had said that it had floated off whilst trying to cross the ford !

Back on the loch side I pushed on along the track, now getting used to the drag of BOB I was keeping a reasonable speed up.

Once back at the truck all the texts came in on the phone I answered them one by one making sure everybody was sure I was OK !

Aye another standard adventure turned into an epic !

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Bobinson, Bob and Leroi’s Christmas Adventure

I am not a fan of Christmas !

Everybody comments with Bah Humbug etc but I have my reasons.

I try to avoid the whole thing by getting away but the past 2 years when the snow has fallen and I have been on the beach it just did not feel right !

I wanted to be back in Scotland playing in the snow !

The last post was a lucky gap in the weather and on getting back the  Christmas forecast did not look good.

Mild air meant all the snow was melting and high winds meant being high on the hills was not going to be a nice option !

So low-level it was to be as I looked over maps and came up with a plan.

I stopped off in Aberfeldy on Christmas Eve to catch up with a few people, then drove to Dalwhinnie, parked up and slept in the truck as the weather was howling outside.

Christmas morning I brewed up in the truck with my new nifty kettle and set about packing BOB.

 

Hooked on the back of Leroi Bob carried the weight well, negotiating gates was a bit tricky but after a few miles I got used to having him along.

The wind was blowing into my face, making pedalling interesting even on the smallest of inclines.

I soon hit the track on the North side of Loch Ericht, a light drizzle in the air intensified thanks to the strong winds.

occasionally I would get a bit of shelter from the wind thanks to the  trees on the shore.

As I looked along the Loch squals shot clouds of spray along the valley, waterfalls had water leaving them in an upwards direction instead of the way gravity intended.

I was glad I had decided against kayaking into Benalder Cottage !

I stopped for a break to take a layer off as the drizzle had died off, after all what was the rush !

Ben Alder Lodge is a lovely building and really marks the beginning of the climb and leaving civilisation, it also was the last of being sheltered from the high winds !

On the bare hillside I was getting buffeted so badly I ended up getting off and pushing,by the time I had pedaled downhill to Loch Pattack I was getting lashed with massive rain drops as well as 80mph gusts of wind.

There is  a small track that cuts directly over the moor to the bothy but I opted for the main track round Loch Pattack, this turned out to be badly flooded and at the “Ford” there was an interesting decision to be made !

The ford was nowhere to be seen so the Indiana Jones style bridge it was, It took 3 journeys to get everything across with the walkway dipping under the water at the lowest point each time !

Between the ford and the track junction the track was non-existent, at some points Leroi, Bob and I swam through murky boggy ditches.

The wind and rain still raged in my face and all I could think about was the bothy a few Km’s away.

I walked and cycled the rest of the way, arriving at Culra Bothy just after one pm.

A sheet of the roof was flapping badly in the wind and as I checked out the various sleeping rooms I came across 4 Guys attempting to walk to Fort William, they too had opted for the shelter of the bothy due to being knackered thanks to carrying packs the size of small houses.

I unpacked in the bigger room and got a brew on.

I sat the SPOT unit on the window sill and sent a ping to say “I have camped here”, the rain still battering of the glass of the window !

Was I glad I wasnt in a tent !

Darkness came early as I ate and drank brews, I finished my book so resorted to playing cards on my Ipod before I slipped into my bag and drowned the noise of the roof banging in the wind with tunes from my I pod.

I drifted in and out of sleep, the sheet of roof banging in the wind and then at 2am all hell broke loose !

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Am on the telly !

Well not really !

Forgot to turn that stupid wind filter off so volume is crap !

Video

Wikipedia: video definition: television.

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What’s the rush !

I climbed Tomtain on Friday, mainly to see what the snow levels were doing on the hills further North.

I walked  further than I set out to do, ending up with blisters on my heels due to not tying my boots properly !

The forecast was good for the weekend so it would be rude to miss out on a trip to the hills.

Packing was easy, route choice was harder and at just past midnight I printed a map off and got some sleep.

Waking late I left the house and headed up the A82, it wasnt too busy and I reached the car park at about half twelve(yes it was late).

There were a few patches of cloud in the sky but the sun was bright in the blue sky.

 

I had initially planned on following the track next to the Falloch and the crossing the river, following the woods to Stob Coire Bhuidhe, given the time of day and conditions I opted for the ridge joining Grey Height and Meall Dhamh.

Layers were soon coming off as the climb got steeper on the shoulder of Grey Height.

 

A steady climb through a mixture of soft drifting snow and solid wind slab kept the heart rate up,the rocky outcrops made route selection more interesting.

Thoughts were on snowshoes as I disappeared up to my knees in places !

I stopped for a brew on the top of  Meall Dham, it was half three and already the sun was getting low in the sky causing the temp to drop.

The wind had picked up on the exposed ridge, drifting snow had frozen and was a bit more consolidated making it easier going.

Picking my way above the crags on Cruach Ardrain I ran out of light and energy, I was on the last flattish spur before the top a couple of hundred  metres short of the summit.

The snow here was deep and soft which meant I had to excavate a pit to get to the hard base in order to pitch the tent !

This took a bit longer than I thought and finally by 6pm I had the tent up just as the wind was starting to get stronger, the temp was -4 as I jumped into the tent to get the stove on.

I had some food and settled into my double cocoon of down courtesy of PHD, I  had a read of my book for a while as the snow battered off the outside of the tent.

I turned the torch off about elven and didn’t wake up till half seven !

I unzipped the door of the tent to see the faint hint of sunrise, the moon was now visible casting that amazing ambient light across the mountains and snow.

I got the stove on for a brew, the wind had dropped and the snow had filled all my footprints from last night.

 

Mug in pocket I climbed the steep slope to the summit, just in time to see the sun raise its weary head over in the east.

No matter how many sun rises I see it still brings a smile to my face, I sat smug and warm drinking my coffee before it was time to head back down.

As I followed my footprints I  thought with a smirk of the person who had avoided the Saturday night party to get up early this Sunday morning to be the first on Cruach Ardrain only to be greeted with a fresh set of footprints from a pair of Haglofs Gryms !

 

Reluctantly I packed my kit away as the sun started to hit my camp spot, the temp was minus 2 when I left.

Contouring around Cruach Ardrain I headed towards Stob Glas.

I lost track of time as I explored the little outcrops and amazing snow shapes formed by the wind.

Crampons and poles were the right choice on the varying terrain, the drop in height  towards Beinn a Chroin was a mixture of heel stamping and glassading (even with crampons).

It was a little de-motivating to drop that much height only to have to regain it on the other side.

On the top of Beinn a Chroin the weather started to change for the worse, the Suunto on my wrist was telling me it was minus 2 on my wrist as the cloud rolled in and the heavy snow fell.

I had to stop for a rest as I was feeling pretty knackered after the couple of steep gullies I had climbed to regain over 400m.

 

The light changed as the sun broke back through the cloud.

I could see wee H and her pal on the summit of An Caisteal but there was no way I was making the RV with them at the top.

The ridge is a rocky nightmare to the top of An Caisteal making you pay for every metre you gain.

The snow was soft and I gained half a step for every step taken, the wind scratching at any bit of exposed flesh.

The cloud was down visibility was about 10m if you were lucky as I pushed past the numerous false summits.

On the top I finally found the small cairn !

 

I was gubbed !

The summit was not the place to stop and have a snack so I dropped down a bit till I got a bit of shelter.

I toyed with the idea of pitching the tent but food in my pack was not plentiful !

I had to navigate on bearings and time to ensure I stayed on track, always fearful I would take the ultimate big step off a cornice in the ridiculously flat light.

I stumbled on and finally dropped out the cloud on the wrong side of Sron Gharbh !

I contoured round whilst heading for the track, crampons still on.

I finally hit the track as the light was fading.

I looked over my shoulder for one glance at the mountains before returning to the real world on the other side of the railway tunnel.

The A82 was slow but I did not care !

Aye whats the rush !

 

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All Change !

The weather is on the change !

Clients have changed their minds !

Anything else ?

 

Oh aye its almost Christmas !

 

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