Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Fuar Bheinn first. There's something a little Himalayan about this climb. Steep shoulders rise from the glen to an airy ridge, leading steeply to the snowy summit, white on blue, my favourite colour combo. My route takes me across the Allt an t-Seasglaich, draining Fuar Bheinn's wild southeastern corrie. Holly trees cling to the steep sides of the burn.
The east ridge is corniced to the north, dropping precipitously to the dark, cold boulders and snowfields of the northeast-facing corrie. A short clamber over granite outcrops and I'm at the top for soup and sandwiches and a long view down to Loch Linnhe.
Crampons on for the descent vaguely northwards, curving around to the long, white, bouldery slopes of Creach Bheinn. The wind is ramping up now. The climb seems long and I start to feel exhausted. Not as fit as I think I am, not for these conditions anyway. I need to watch myself here. My mind flicks back to the winter skills course I did last year. I stop, take a minute to myself, pull on a belay jacket, warming up and feeling a little better straight away.
Onwards and upwards, the sun sinking into high clouds behind me. Fuar Bheinn looks fine from here - small but perfectly formed.
I find some meagre shelter on the summit of Creach Bheinn for another glug of soup and to check the map for the safest way off. There are many potential traps for the weary. A serious mountain this one.
Crampons on again to descend a steep and bouldery ridge towards the bealach, cliffs on both sides. The gusts are quite vicious now. A couple of times I feel it catch my rucksack like a sail, try to lift my feet off the ground. I just keep focusing on the safe ground below at the bealach where, fortuitously, the wind is much less.
A final stop to get my breath back. The light is going fast, faintest shades of pink on the massive tent shape of Garbh-bheinn. The drama over, I just feel tired now and impatient to get back down. It's a long descent to the glen, and can't be rushed. I'm all alone so give full voice to my feelings as I fight through huge tussocks and bogs and leg cramps to the burn. Then a torch-lit river crossing and final miles under masses of stars.