Our blog - Beinn a'Ghlo, Jan'18

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Beinn a'Ghlo - the last and first of the years

2 January'18
Our last event of 2017 and our first of 2018 were on Beinn a'Ghlo! Steven and Emma were leading....

30 December - Steven

It's not often we get asked to lead a 'run' over some Munros ! What to do ? The plan initially was for the Lawers 7 - perfectly achievable in summer conditions, but after a bit of thought, was ruled out due to snow and limited daylight. Much head-scratching later, Beinn a'Ghlo was made our target - 3 Munros, with the option to extend to nearby Carn a'Chlamain if condtions allowed.

On a cold morning, I met up with Jon at Blair Atholl station and we headed up the rather icy road to the start of our route. Gear sorted (as lightweight as possible, but still carrying ice-axe), we began our run up the snow covered track - the pace at first being quite quick, but we gradually settled into a good rhythm. Higher up, a fair amount of snow covered the ground, but not icy enough to justify the use of any technical gear - our Inov8s combined with waterproof socks were the business ! Approaching the summit of Carn Liath and it was into cloud, which for the rest of the day on high ground, only broke occasionally for fleeting glimpses of views. Some route finding later for the two other Munros and a bit of heather-hopping lower down and we were on the new path heading back out. Just under 4:30hr - good effort !

2 January - Emma

The first route of the New Year lived up to its name - Beinn a'Ghlo translates as hill of the mists - and it did not disappoint! It was an early start, with snow and strong winds forecast from late morning we were on our way soon after first light. After the initial gentle walk up the track, the climb up Carn Liath is fairly tough, with a steep, sustained ascent. The lower section of the hill has recently benefitted from some new path work which is part of a larger footpath repair project on mountain routes across both the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Parks. However, we were soon at the snow level and into the cloud too.

The wind picked up near the summit and we pulled on all our layers, and after a few minutes stop at the cairn we headed off along the ridge. With thick mist and snow it was difficult to see where the edge of the mountain was and some careful navigation was required. Luckily the worst of the wind was in our backs, and it kept us moving to the saddle which was surprisingly sheltered, and made a good place for elevenses. The climb onto the second Munro, which translates amusingly as hill of the corrie of the big round blisters was tough. It was a complete white out at times and as the ridge swung round we were being blown sideways across the mountain by the force of the wind.

The snow was making it difficult to see, though we did locate the summit, it wasn't pleasant! A quick group huddle and the only sensible decision that we could make was to turn back, happy with our 2 Munros to start the new year. This was quite a challenge in the conditions, and it was somewhat of a relief when we found ourselves back on the saddle. An enjoyable descent followed through the snow which did take us out of the mist and cloud as it contoured around the side of Carn Liath to rejoin the outward ascent route. A memorable day and a good reminder of what winter in the Scottish mountains can be like. Happy New Year!

The photos are by Johnston Orr, more are here on Flickr.

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