Showing posts with label Meall a' Bhuiridh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meall a' Bhuiridh. Show all posts

11 February 2013

Meall a' Bhuiridh a nightime caper in the darkness!

My second munro of the week and if I thought the first had its challenges then I was in for a treat as this one proved to push my limits to the point of no return.

The day started with a winter skills session on the hills below in and around the Glencoe Ski area and as the light started to fall we packed our stuff and headed up the steep and icy slope of the mountain.  It was around 4pm and darkness wasn't far away and we still had a few hours of walking to reach the summit.  I was tired, my legs were like jelly and the ice underfoot made me question every step but onwards and upwards we went.  The fading light on the surrounding mountains was spectacular and the first part of the walk up was spent looking backwards at the setting sun.

I can only say it was tough going.  Looking upwards into the prevailing darkness I could see the outline of what appeared to be a summit but knew that it was the first of a couple of false summits and in my heart of hearts I simply couldn't imagine how I was going to make it.  The rocks in the landscape were becoming few and far between and that meant traversing across and up the ice which with every footstep brought fear.  Even trying to use the skills we'd learned, kicking in footsteps and cutting the ice proved fruitless for me so I concentrated on following in Chris's footsteps but he was much further ahead than I was and in the darkness I just couldn't see.  Having my glasses would have helped but as per usual they were back in the car, so there I was, faltering about in the dark, on ice, trying to keep moving forward.

It was inevitable that I'd slip and slip I did.  Luckily I had my ice axe to hand and put into action something I'd learned on the course and it might not have been technically correct but I stopped the slip and forced myself upright again.  True to form I'd gone into negative mode and wittering about not being able to do it so Scot (course leader) came to my aid and talked me up the hill.  Thankfully there were more rocky bits to find a footing on and they were not as icy but seeing in the dark was a real issue for me now but onwards and upwards I went.

After about an hour of this tip-toeing round the rocks and ice I could see the summit ahead and the lights from the head torches of everyone else.  I felt a bit bad at them having to wait there for me but before long we were all together in the darkness feeling quite chuffed with ourselves that we'd made it.  Little did I know then but this was the highest I'd ever been before.  Snowdon was the highest peak I'd walked up and this was higher so hurrah for me!

At the summit the others left to head down to the top ski station and I stopped for a bite to eat and to get my head torch out.  Now I'm rubbish at remembering things but you'd think being on a night walk which was planned would mean that I'd have batteries in my head torch........wrong!  It lit for about 10 secs then died which didn't impress Scot at all.  Luckily he had a spare so all was good, phew!

Coming off the summit was a challenge as the path leading off to the top ski station was just one big slab of ice.  There was nothing more for it than to get on my backside and slide down.  This was still a tricky operation as it was a massive slab of ice and I had no directional control so it wasn't a fast slide down to the rock but a steady inch by inch slide in the right direction.  Finally upright again and I was finally on soft fluffy snow and met up with the others at the top ski station.  A quick drink and we were off again down the ski track which was 1 big long fluffy snow track to almost the bottom of the hill, bliss and double bliss......

The route down was heaven compared to the walk up.  There was no ambient light and the sky was filled to the brim with stars.  I've never seen so many stars in my life and it was wall to wall twinkling.  A beautiful sight that I'd remember for a long long time.

Back at the car park exhausted it was a quick pit stop to the pub and then back to our little log cabin for bed.  Muscles I never knew I had ached and it had been a long day.  10 hrs on the hills with the extra focus on walking up a mountain in the dark left me with no energy what so ever but elated at the achievement.

2 munro's down, would I get another in before the week was out........we'll see!