I organise an annual winter camping trip for friends. This year the location was the Ardverikie Forest near Loch Laggan in the Central Highlands.
The plan was for us to walk in Friday and camp on the shores of Lochan na H-earba. On Saturday, we'd climb three Munros, Beinn a'Chlachair, Geal Charn and Craig Pitridh, and on Sunday, a Graham, Binnean Shuas. All easy hills if the weather plays ball.
A typical Scottish winter's weekend forecast;
- Storm-force winds
- Gusts up to 70mph
- Visibility often nil
We decided to suck it and see. What a battering we got.
We chose the NW ridge of Coire Mor Chlachair as it takes you out onto Beinn a'Chlachair's summit. It's a fairly steep walk with a rocky step at the bottom. When we got there, the wind was mental and blasted snow in our faces at a rate of knots (pic above). Davy fought through it and found a 10m snow ramp leading up onto the ridge. He and Iain managed to kick only tiny footholds in the snow as they scampered up the steep slope. Kenny, Richard and I, mindful of the ankle-snapping boulders below, decided to put on crampons.
When we all met up again it was in a maelstrom. The wind speed was fantastic - maybe 50mph? I don't know but often we couldn't move - and our world was one full of spindrift. It was difficult to stand up and a struggle to see. We tried to climb further up the ridge but safe progress was nigh on impossible and we soon turned tail and ran back to camp.
The result? No summits but all very exhilarating. A good, goggles-on winter's day out.
See my Facebook page for more pics.