“Who you trying to impress”
“Who could care less”
As regular readers know I cant stand the “Christmas Thing !” so if I find myself in the country I tend to run for the hills to get away from the madness.
I arrived back from Cape Verde on the 23rd late, by the time I got home it was 01:30.
I got up the next morning and loosely packed my kit before heading North.
Stopping off at Sainsburys in Stirling to grab some provisions became a mission trying to get out the car park !
I popped in to see the guys at Escape Route, they were full of festive cheer and aiming to get very full of it when they finished !
It was dark as I headed for Dalwhinnie, the rain was falling and to put a finer point on it the weather was “SH1TE”
The forecast had said it would dry up at about 18:00 and to be honest as I parked up it was clearing.
I got a fire going and had a few beers as I sorted my kit out for the next few days.
Sorted I cooked some sausages on the fire and then jumped in the truck to get some kip.
Next morning it was mild !
I was tired and the motivation to get up was seriously weak.
I made some last-minute kit decisions then set off, trudging up a very wet hillside.
There is not much of a path up the shoulder of Creagan Mor, so picking your path between the patches of thick heather distracts you from the climb.
About half way up to the Lochan a bit of fine drizzle fell, it was nice and refreshing as it hit my face in the mild air.
Reaching the Lochan patches of snow appeared and the wet boggy ground started to harden up a bit as the temp started to drop.
Heading for Geal-charn the snow was still patchy, the wind had started getting up and the temp was starting to fall.
At the summit the cloud was starting to come in and the light starting to fade, dropping off the top on a bearing I started looking for a potential camp site.
At about 800m I found a slightly sheltered patch and started to excavate snow into a flat ledge.
An hour later and I had a pit instead of a ledge, given the wind that came in that night it was probably for the better.
It had been a short day but I was pretty knackered as I climbed into the tent, got my kit sorted and climbed into the combi bag.
A couple of hours later I awoke after a bit of a snooze, the moon was shinning outside giving off loads of light.
The jetboil was sluggish in minus temps as I melted snow for dinner, after my Asian Noodles which were very tasty I read a bit of my book before drifting easily back off to sleep.
I woke up about 8 and stuck my head out the tent, it snowed over night and the cloud was still low, there would be no impressive sun rise!
I drifted back to sleep till 9am got the stove on and started packing my kit up.
I had a bit of breakfast and set off for A Mharconaich, the weather was ever changing, one minute cloudy next minute it would lift and clear giving amazing 360 views.
The snow under foot was much more consolidated than the day before so it made the going much easier.
By Half eleven I was on the summit and the cloud had lifted, it was -6 on the top and there was a bit of a breeze.
I had noticed when i had hit the top of the ridge that there was someone else on the hill, as I got the jetboil out for a brew the caught up with me,after a quick chat he was taking photos and another 4 people appeared !
I finished my brew and wished the others a good day,retracing my steps back along the ridge, the cloud was starting to come in as I started heading towards Beinn Udlamain, the highest of the peaks in this group.
I was getting into the pace of things and by 13:30 I was on the top at 1011m it was biting cold and there was not much to see as the cloud swept across the summit, I checked the map and continued to handrail along the old fence line down towards Carn Lc Loumhaidh.
As I reached this the cloud was right down and the light was going really flat.
I toyed with camping on the flat expanse as it was a bit more sheltered but as a gap in the cloud came I decided to head onto the shoulder of Sgairneach Mhor.
The gap in the cloud was short lived and I found myself floundering around in the flat light.
I tried to take a bearing with my compass but the bubble had doubled in size and the prismatic disk was spinning all over the place.
I knew I wasn’t far from the summit but decided to hunker down in the tent as the forecast had said it would clear in the morning.
I was on a flat bit of ground at just over 900m, I was aware that was a little exposed so took a bit of time to pitch the tent well and make sore there was plenty of snow on the valance.
As I ate dinner and read my book the wind shook the tent, it was going to be a long night.
I plugged my I pod in and drifted in and out of sleep till about 7 the next morning, I unzipped the inner door to be greeted with a porch full of snow, at some point the wind had changed direction and had blown in under the door.
It was still nasty outside, my thoughts drifted to bugging out down Coire Dhomhain back to the A9, I used the PTC* mantra “have another Cuppa”.
By 10am the cloud lifted and I was glad that I was not too hasty in making the decision to drop down early.
Packed up it was not long till I was standing on the summit.
The fresh snow had corniced on the ridge as I headed down towards The Snow of Atholl.
After a steep climb up to the top of the Snow of Atholl I looked back and could see people on the tops all around me.
I dropped down to the A9 and began the 10km slog back up to the truck.
A few hours later I was In escape Route drinking coffee and buying a new compass.
I had indeed connected the dots !