Monday, May 14, 2007

Achnashellach and Torridon Hills: Maoile Lunndaidh (125)

Walk date: 06/05/07
My Munro #'s: 109

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Moela loondy - hill of the wet place - 1007m

Duration - 09:30 - 19:00
Distance - 35.3km
Weather - Awful! High gusty winds accompanied by ice-cold rain, sleet, stinging hail and snow!
Team - solo
Other hikers: 2. They turned back.

Wide diversions from plotted route due to high rivers:

Hiking Expedition '07 - Glen Shiel area - Day 2 (Sun 6th)

What an epic day! Despite the forecast heavy weather (particularly high winds in the morning), I still naively expected this to be a relatively simple and quick day, even wondering whether I would add on Beinn Sgritheall in the afternoon!! It was somehow fitting that last year's failed attempt on this hill was down to, hey, bad weather including high winds.

After parking in Craig, I took the excellent stalker's track up into Glenuaig, pushing the bike on the ascent but also managing some riding in Glenuaig as the considerable wind was behind me. However, the gusts and the short bursts of heavy rain meant that by the time I got to the Glenuaig Lodge, I was ready for a spot of food in their welcomed walker's shed-shelter (complete with electric heater and light, neither of which were supplied with electricity in the time I was there). As this was only 11:00 and 90 minutes out, I happily spent a half hour here assessing the conditions.

Gotta love that bleak horizon, into Glenuaig:

A nice shelter, but how to work the heater?

My plan all along had been to get 'into position' during the predicted blustery morning (up to 80mph gusts), and then have a quick up and down to the summit, minimising the exposure up top. This had been a decent plan, but due to the high rainfall in the area, the rivers were fierce and the plotted route over the fords was out of the question. I spent a good half hour retracing my steps to Glenuaig Lodge in order to find the nearby footbridge, which I duly crossed.

It seemed so near, but problems were to come!

The easiest crossing all day:

Unfortunately, the crossing by the footbridge merely led to another impassable river, meaning I had to follow it southwesterly, further and further away from my plotted ascent route, looking for a safe place to cross. Nothing convincing came about for the next 3km!! All this time on difficult riverbank walking (along with the rain bursts and gusts of wind of course). At one point I thought there was going to be a good spot, but I then discovered this good spot was on a bit of river that I couldn't get to due to another tributory river being in the way!! In normal flow there would have been many crossing points, but I am deeply conservative with such things, imagining as I do a drenched me flowing quickly downstream over waterfalls and rocks along with my drenched GPS, camera, iPod...

No hose-pipe ban around here:

When one river was already bad enough:

Once finally across, I was far too westerly to return to my plotted route, so I headed up to height up Carn nan Flaclan. Once on top, regular gusts quickened the pace towards this awkward to bag top. Some leaning-in was required but the summit plateau is broad and flat so patience duly served it up.

Up at height but it's still a slog in the wind to bag it:

One bloody difficult hill to bag, my Munro 111:

Wasting no time I spun on my heels back along my ascent route. From here it became quite miserable as I had to push against strong wind that was helpfully bringing along small, sharp, stinging hail into my face. I quickly worked up a method having my GPS in hand and looking out of the way down at it, and simply making sure I retraced my steps along the top.

After what seemed like an age, I gladly started the descent back towards the troublesome river, but this time heading above the boggy land below Bidean an Eoin Deirg to catch it in slower flow. This worked well and I made my way quickly onto the crest of Sron na Fianich for a boggy heather descent back to the footbridge.

Evidence of crofting back down at Glenuaig:

Now sitting in bleach in my bathroom, a good find:

Back at the lodge and reunited with my bike I thought my troubles were over, but the wind along the glen had picked up considerably bringing with it some great heavy sheets of cold rain, together ensuring cycling was either slow and laboured or impossible for the flatter sections. Finally, I made it to the welcomed steep slope down to Craig, but it was time for one more slap in the face as the skies opened again and a prolonged heavy shower took me all the way back to the car, and at that exact point, it stopped.

As quickly as possible I wrapped up my wet gear and made it to Lochcarron, where I knew I would have reception in order to phone a guaranteed anxious Sonia!

One hell of a hill to bag, but coming with a story or two as a result! There will be no quick repeat of this one!

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Blogger Scott said...

Congrats on that tough one. But I have to say, as hard and miserable as it sounds, I wish I could do it!

16 May 2007 at 01:46  
Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Woah, hard going! Bet Sonia was well chuffed to hear you made it back!

Where are you putting the antlers?

16 May 2007 at 13:20  
Blogger George Walks said...

Thanks guys. I must admit that my after walk beer did taste particularly good that day!

As for the antler, maybe it's time for some fancy dress??

16 May 2007 at 18:02  
Blogger ooer mrs said...

you lucky lucky chap. glenuaig is indeed awesome. 2 of my sons scaled maoile lunndaidh last february , armed only with hoodies and a drawstring bag full of lucozade ! awesome !

1 June 2008 at 16:14  

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