February saw us returning to majestic Glen Etive, staying at the Inbhirfhaolin Hut. The hut is owned by the Grampian Club, and while more basic than some other huts, it does sit in a superb location, surrounded by some of the finest mountains in Scotland.February saw us returning to majestic Glen Etive, staying at the Inbhirfhaolin Hut.
The hut is owned by the Grampian Club, and while more basic than some other huts, it does sit in a superb location, surrounded by some of the finest mountains in Scotland.
Susan Henderson, George Henderson, Jim Aire, James Fraser, Raymond Evenden
After our January meet in Glen Clova was affected by Storm Malik with some members unable to make it, surely February’s wouldn’t have any issues. However in the days leading up to the weekend Storm Eunice was forecast for the Friday to bring heavy snow to the Central Highlands, and coupled with a high avalanche risk for certain slopes a few members decided not to risk travelling and the chance of being stranded down the glen.
Jim was first to set off with Fraz and and Raymond not far behind. There was time for a pint at the Kingshouse and a few snaps of the Buachaille in its full winter jacket, with Fraz and Raymond jostling for position to get the best shot.
Unsurprisingly, the hut was pretty chilly, so the 3 quickly set about gathering firewood and filling the water bottles from the burn. There are plans to run a water supply into the hut with the new hydro scheme being built not far upstream and this will be a welcome improvement.
Soon the place was warm and cosy and the 3 settled down with a few aperitifs. Not long after George and Susan arrived and getting dinner on became the priority. With the call off’s from the Burns Weekend, only one of the 5kg haggis had been eaten and Fraz had taken home the other one, froze it and had brought along it to feed the masses.
Unfortunately, it hadn’t been out the freezer long enough to completely thaw and it took a wee bit ingenuity and a big bit of elbow grease with the hut bowsaw to cut it into cookable sized slices. Surely a world first for the great puddin to meet its fate.
Well fed, everyone settled round the fire, the usual chatter and banter flowing back and forth. Sadly no guitars had made the journey North so live music wouldn’t be on the cards tonight. However Raymond’s phone had a full 4g signal, (the only one in the hut and much to Fraz’s annoyance) so there was a wide range of songs played and sang as the night drifted into the wee sma’ hours.
The forecast for the next morning was pretty decent and plans were made with Jim and Fraz heading for Beinn Sgulaird whilst Raymond and the Henderson’s would head to the foot of Glen Etive to tackle the Corbett Beinn Trilleachan. And with that it was lights oot for the night.
As morning broke one by one as everyone popped outside to use the infamous “lang drap”, they were greeted with crisp air and bright blue skies and this filled everyone with anticipation that a grand day lay ahead.
Jim and Fraz were first out the traps, driving the few short miles to their start point at Invercharnan. They set off up the track making good progress whilst chatting away and enjoying the warm sunshine. There is lots of hydro works going on in Glen Etive just now and Jim couldn’t miss his chance for an Instagrammer type pose.
As they marched on they started to question if they were on the intended route. That question was answered when the track came to an abrupt end at a new dam. Maps came out and after a few minutes they realised they had followed what appears to be a new track not long after leaving the car.
Rather than face a long retreat back, it was decided that they could cut through the 500 metres of forestry to the open hill where around a mile and a half traverse following the fenceline would get them back on route. However the forestry became so dense that pushing through it became impossible, so the intrepid adventurers, refusing to retreat, spent the last couple of hundred metres leopard crawling under the lowest of the branches to break free into open terrain.
Once back on track the views opened up as they made their way up the slopes to the bealach between Meall nan Gobhar and Beinn Fhionnlaidh’s East top then a contouring line took them up to the summit ridge about half a mile from the top.
Unfortunately the clouds had closed in by the time they reached the summit so after a quick selfie at the trig point, it was a fast retreat to get back down to the car before darkness fell.
The Trilleachen 3 had decided that as they had a reasonably short day ahead of them, there was no rush to set off too early. This allowed them to watch the mens curling final at the winter Olympics on the hut telly…….Raymond’s phone. Unfortunately Team GB (Scotland) narrowly lost out to Sweden in a tense extra end.
The drive down Glen Etive to their start point was simply stunning…..a photographers dream. Cameras were shooting in all directions with the classic u shape glacial valley between the 2 Buachaille’s looking amazing, backdropped against the crisp blue sky.
George had a quick chat with a hardy camper who was packing up his lochside pitch, bemoaning the fact that he hadn’t brought his inflatable canoe with him.
The 3 started up the rough and boggy path and the snowline was soon reached and the hard work would begin. With no one having been on the hill they took turns at breaking the trail and chose a good line, weaving their way through the craggy outcrops. As they climbed, so did the temperature and it wasn’t long before a short break was needed to remove jackets and gulp down some water while taking in the ever impressive views.
By now the snow underfoot had become a bit harder and at another wee rest stop Raymond decided to don his crampons as much as to reduce his pack weight as to help with movement. The Henderson’s had went for the lighter weight option of ice grips and decided they may as well put them as well. Susan slipped hers on whilst George, perhaps inspired by watching the curling earlier, pulled out one ice grip from his pack, going for the one grippy one slippy boot approach. Susan soon joined George in this novel approach as one of her grips had slipped off unnoticed. Luckily it was retrieved later on the way back down.
Trilleachan’s East top was now in view and they made short work of the steep climb then easy walk out to reach this magnificent viewpoint which is perched right above the Trilleachan Slabs, famed among climbers for their unique friction style routes.
Once they had taken their fill of photos a steep rocky descent lay ahead. At first look it looks quite difficult but it was actually pretty easy with always a way to get around any of the steeper steps and they were soon down and making their way over to the final ascent to the summit.
Raymond was wearing his winter boots for the first time in a while and he was finding them quite uncomfortably tight and painful, especially climbing down. Mentioning that he thought they no longer fitted him correctly and he might need to splash out on a new pair saw George’s eyes light up as bright as the sun in the sky.
An easy stroll took them to the summit for the obligatory photos at the cairn and a leisurely lunch break. Cloud had been slowly moving in from the west so the views in that direction became a bit obscured.
The easiest way down is to return by the same way and climb back over the East Top. As they descended Raymond’s boots were really hurting now and he fell a bit behind. It was a great relief to reach the car and kick them off. They had hoped to get some more photos as they headed back up the glen, however a light shower came on and it clouded over so it was straight back to the hut where George wasted no time in getting the fire raging to his usual furnace like temperatures. Fraz and Jim returned soon after though due to work Jim was faced with the 2 hour drive home that night. A quiet night was enjoyed by the remaining four blethering the night away. There was some talk oh hills on the Sunday however they awoke to a very different morning than the day before with heavy rain and the snow melt pouring of the hills due to an overnight temperature increase of 8 degrees. A couple of picture stops and a visit to the Falls of Dochart on the way home brought to an end a superb and much better than expected weekend.