Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Galmadale


The wind was from the east, so I headed west - far west. It was only at Glen Coe that the grey sheet of cloud started to fray and tatter. A ferry hop at Corran across to Ardgour, then a drive along the coast into Morvern, onto a tiny B-road, hugging the cliffs, landed me at the foot of sunny Glen Galmadale. The biggest mountains in Morvern are here, Fuar Bheinn and, overlooking the head of the glen, the craggy cone of Creach Bheinn, looking every bit of its 853 metres from down here at sea level. It's a late start and I know I'll still be out when it's dark.



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.

6 comments:

  1. Beautifully written and very enjoyable to read Stefan.

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    1. Thanks for reading Geoff, much appreciated!

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  2. First rate stuff, again, Stefan.
    Fabulous pictures and wonderful words.
    I could feel the chill creeping into my bones!
    Thank you.
    :-)

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    1. Cheers Alan. Not sure if it was really cold or if I'm just going a bit soft ;-)

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    2. It was definitely cold: I added an extra layer just to read about it ;)

      Great words and pictures as others have already said. And rocks, great rocks too; I'm fond of rocks and if that makes me odd, well...

      Dave

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    3. Rocks rock, I'm with you there! These are granite hills, which I wasn't expecting. Thanks for reading.

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