Ah well. Some you win, some you win later.
We decided to have this pair of Munros shortly after tackling Ben More and Stob Binnein.
Right from the start near Crainlarrich, it wasn’t going well. We had spoken to another hillwalker who thought the bridge across the river might not be there anymore. Rather than chance it we stayed left of the river which gave us the boggiest ascent of a hill I’ve ever had. It was not fun, with every step sapping strength out of the legs.
When we finally got to the edge of the treeline, we discovered a perfectly serviceable bridge. Already knackered the unrelenting grassy climb to Grey Height was tough, and Malcolm thought that Grey Height was the peak itself.
At 800 metres the rain turned to hail stones and all of a sudden grey clouds rolled up the valley. It was soon to consume everything.
We pushed on and once over the next bump of Meall Dhamh the weather let us have it!
The wind drove the snow at us horizontally. In this weather we might just get up the first peak, but if it sustained, then getting back down in thickening snow and poor visibility might be dangerous. The forecast was for big winds and rain, so maybe it was just a flash storm.
But if it persisted, we could be in a spot of bother. The beallach and the eastern approach to the summit were exposed to the elements and my right cheek was stinging with the impact of hard-driven snow.
We made a decision and turned back. We had almost made it back to Grey Height when the sun split the clouds and a few hikers could be seen pressing towards us. They glibbly told us they had sheltered the storm behind some rocks with a cuppa, and then continued on.
I felt like an amateur. But more recently I wondered how they would have reacted had they found themselves caught on the same exposed patch with the wind and snow fighting them for territory?
Turning back just 140 metres from the cairn was hard. It felt like a failure. But looking back, I reckon executing a successful failure has its merits.
Cruach Ardrian, until next time!
- Best Laid Plans – 3 summits avoided: Carn Dearg, Sgor Gaibhre and Beinn Bheoil (munroblagger.wordpress.com)