Sunday, 17 March 2013

Laggan Munro weekend, Mar'13

Richard lead a group over the Laggan Munros on a wintery weekend in March. Here's his thoughts on the days....

On Creag Pitridh
The first day of our Laggan weekend was a frosty start with some ice on the bike ride in, but not too much! We made excellent time and it looked promising as we left the bikes on the shores of Lochan na h-Earba. It felt like the wind would shift the cloud and Beinn a'Chlachair was looking clear and wonderful on our ascent up the slopes of Creag Pitridh, but soon the cold wind and cloud engulfed us. It wasn't too difficult going up to the first summit and we had soon negotiated the steep rocky descent to the col before a long steady plod up mixed snow slopes to reach the very cold summit of Geal Charn. Alas the whiteout conditions prevailed and we wandered about the blank canvas of snow and worked our way down the the next bealach in good time. Crampons were necessary most of the day due to odd patches of solid neve and ice, but really came into their own on the steep rocky climb up onto the plateau of Beinn a'Chlachair. Sadly the weather did not abate and we were buffeted along in a fresh blizzard all the way to the summit in a very thick whiteout. It was a turn around after touching and back into the maelstrom for a wee while before descending quickly down safer snow slopes and eventually out of the cloud to the bikes for a speedy ride to the cars (apart from the broken peddle).

On Beinn a'Chlachair
Our second day saw the promise of a couple of hours of snow or sunny spells depending on the forecast and they even mentioned the hills south of Tulloch Station. Well we had neither really as we headed up the fresh snow covered slopes of Stob Coire Sgriodain and into the white room again choosing a eastern slope to work our way up to avoid the worst of any wind and limit the avalanche danger. It was cold on the summit ridge and we struggled to find any respite for some food for a while as we traversed the rocky snow covered maze of knolls between the two Munros. As we cleared the rougher ground and began the climb up the very snowy (1-2 feet deep) slopes towards Chno Dearg our pace slowed after all the trail breaking and the sun even tried to break through, but it wasn't to be and the whiteout remained with us to the summit. After a bit of food and drink we prepared for some potential sliding down the hill, but the snow was so deep that we just floated on our feet almost all the way down! It was a lovely afternoon out of the cloud and we enjoyed some more feasting on the crest of a medial moraine before descending through the bog to reach the track back to the cars. A great weekend with lots of smiles and laughs!

Ann, one of the group, also let us know her thoughts....

We had the most fantastic day... Richard was an absolute hero navigating, having left the first Munro in watery sunshine to a white out which lasted for several hours. He got us to the top of the second and third hill with absolute perfection as the cairns were covered in snow and capped with a rime frost and not an inch out. Got a bit giddy and thought we were in Antartica walking in the steps of Scott, but reality struck when I tripped over my crampons!!

As usual another 'braw' weekend with lots of encouragement, snackette breaks and laughs.

Here was the plan for the day.