The Club’s inaugural meeting was held in the Ladies Scottish Climbing Hut at Kincraig, near Aviemore in February 2015. This excellent, very comfortable hut is very well placed for the Western Cairngorms and the Club decided to revisit for their meet on 4th and 5th November 2016.
Jim Aire, Bill Dallas, Deb Dallas, Raymond Evenden, James Fraser, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Rowena Hepple, Paul McGrandles, Neil Morrison, Ian Pollock, Norrie Shand.
The only members who managed to get any walking in on Friday were George and Susan who had headed north early in the day with their bikes in the car. Their target for the day was the Corbett of Meallach Mhor at the head of Glen Tromie. The cycle up the glen saved a fair bit of time and in slightly murky conditions they made pretty short work of the ascent to the 769m top. An opportunity was taken for a summit photo featuring a bottle of Glentromie 12 yo from the nearby Speyside Distillery. It is not recorded whether the bottle made it back to hut fully intact.
With George and Susan drying out by the fire, the others arrived during the course of the afternoon and evening – other than Ian Pollock who was driving up the next morning. Unfortunately, both Alan Orr and Ian Millar were hors de combat and had to pull out of the trip (either that or they had looked at the weather forecast).
An enjoyable evening ensued, with James’ inflatable microphone being passed round to the assembled crooners in turn.
There had been hints of winter finally arriving and sure enough the next day dawned (eventually) with a decided nip in the air and evidence of more white stuff on the surrounding hills.
Jim, Raymond and a rejuvenated James were quickly out of the blocks, heading swiftly up to Glenmore Lodge from where a walk past the Green Lochan (Lochan Uaine) and a sharp turn west would take them up onto the ridge leading to the 1090m Munro, Bynack More. To say conditions were testing would be an understatement as they battled their way up through the winds, biting cold and needle-sharp spindrift. Nevertheless they succeeded in attaining the summit and enjoyed a welcome “coorie doon” in Raymond’s bivvy shelter. The slight diversion was taken on the return to avoid facing the wind and spindrift head on. By the time they made it down, they were more than ready for some additional refreshment in a local hostelry.
Paul and Norrie also made for Glenmore Lodge, but with the slightly more modest target of the Corbett, Meall a’ Bhuachaille. Firstly though, they felt it essential to ensure they were properly fuelled up and enjoyed a good “full Scottish” in the Mountain Café in Aviemore. Their walk took them up to Ryvoan Bothy, then up the well-made path to top of the hill. The weather closed in for them as well as they neared the summit and not much time was spent hanging around at the top before they high-tailed it west, then south through the forest and back to the car park. Being a very popular tourist hill, they passed quite a few people heading up as they ascended – with not everyone looking properly attired for a winter walk. Whether the guy with the Hush Puppies or the other guy with the biker jacket actually made it to the top is not known. Paul and Norrie also put a few more pounds into the local economy before heading back to the hut.
George and Susan had set off to tackle the Glen Feshie Munro of Mullach Clach a Bhlair, with an outlying demoted top also potentially in their sights. Again, they met with fairly horrendous winter conditions and a battle against the wind and cold. Some gear malfunction eventually convinced them to abort their mission for the day and return to the hut leaving these hills for a future date.
Bill, Deb and Rowena, wisely as it happened, drove a bit further south and west to take on the triple Munros of Beinn a’Chlachair, Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh by Loch Laggan. The weather there was decidedly better – or at least less bad – than it was in the Cairngorms. Deb was in charge of the Dallas pointers and had an enjoyable walk with them up and around the Loch a Bhealaich Leamhain while Rowena and Bill set forth on the Munros.
The pair set off to tackle them anti-clockwise looking like proper mountaineers in their natty ski goggles and with Rowena in charge of the navigation. She neatly put all the stereotypes to bed as she successfully guided them up Beinn a’Chlachair then over the boulder fields down to the bealach and up over Geal Charn and finally on to Creag Pitridh and back to the car. At 8 hours long and amid snow showers and cold winds it certainly was no walk in the park but they definitely had slightly better conditions than their colleagues in the Cairngorms. They too partook in the almost obligatory beer before returning to the hut.
Ian Pollock had travelled up on Saturday morning and everyone had set off on their quests by the time he reached the hut. So, off he set on his own down Glen Feshie to climb Sgor Gaoith, a wonderful peak with steep cliffs plunging down to Loch Eanaich. All the club members who attended the meet the previous year had scaled this mountain on the Saturday and Ian was playing catch-up. It is not a mountain to be on in poor visibility if your navigation skills are not up to speed – with winter cornices above the vertiginous crags very much a feature. Ian though was well in his comfort zone with maps and helpful apps coming out of his ears. He met a group of 45 young walkers from St Andrews who were also attempting this Munro. Their navigation skills weren’t as finely honed as Ian’s and his welcome advice was well received helping to avoid a potentially serious situation. Mission accomplished he was soon back in the hut for a rejuvenating (??) Green Chartreuse.
Neil had the most ambitious day planned. His plan was to head down Glen Feshie, ascend onto the plateau and then over to Monadh Mor right in the heart of the Cairngorms. An extension on to Beinn Bhrotain had initially been considered but the conditions on the day meant that this wasn’t possible. It was an arduous trek in the soft snow and high winds and darkness was already descending as he made it over to Mullach Clach a Bhlair on the return leg. As the clock ticked on back at the hut there were several murmurs of concern as Neil hadn’t made it back to the hut by seven o’clock – well after darkness. Of course, there was no mobile signal so contact could not be made.
A posse headed off down Glen Feshie in a car to check whether Neil’s car was where he said he was leaving it. Fortunately phone contact was made and he was able to confirm that he was fine and was heading back down the track by the light of his headtorch. Soon he too was back in the hut enjoying supper and some libation. Unfortunately there are no photographs of his epic walk.
It being the 5th November, George had promised the group a stunning firework display in the hut’s garden. Wrapped up against the evening chill everyone headed outside to be mesmerised and transfixed by the dazzling display that was worth every penny of the £3.00 that it had cost. It’s fair to say that Bill and Deb’s dogs, asleep in their van weren’t barking their heads off at the deafening din and the sky suddenly changing colour.
Back indoors another fine evening was enjoyed with a few new songsters making their debut including Deb “Elly May” Dallas on the Ballad of Jed Clampett and Neil also belting out a tune having finally got into relax mode after his mammoth trek.
Sunday’s weather was pretty uninviting and everyone was happy to venture back home in preparation for the next trip.