Strathfarrar – Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, 5 February 2017

Winter is here at last.

It was a fairly complicated meet up at the Strathfarrar gate with ten folk and two huskies arriving in 6 vehicles from different directions, then piling into three – including a change of van for the huskies.  We had three potential new members with us: Skye (from Alaska) and Alessio (from Italy), who were the owners of the huskies, and Kirsty, who had been teaching outdoor pursuits to kids in the United Arab Emirates.  The old guard were Peter and Marion, Ewen, Lisa, Robin, Fay and Arthur.

We had various levels of kit, but everyone set out with an ice axe, which turned out to be a a good thing.  The dogs were hooked up to waist harnesses and set off, pulling Skye and Alessio up the hill.  We followed the path up to Loch Toll a Mhuic and then headed up, roughly following the path, to the ridge between Sgurr na’ Fearstaig and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill.

Old snow lay in banks under the fresh snow and given that we had no crampons, we thought it best to cut steps at these stretches.  That slowed us down a bit, but kept us all more or less together.  We all regrouped at the summit. Skirting Creag Ghorm a Bhealaich we headed off Gob a Chairn back to the path.  It was an uneventful but very pleasant day, and good to meet up with interesting, potential new members.

Burns Supper meet to Elphin, 20/21 January 2017

Seventeen members attended this weekend meet, with most members staying in the Caving Club hut and the rest at Naismith’s further to the west.

Saturday’s weather was fantastic, with a cloud inversion for most of the day.  Richard, Shona, Arthur, Jim, Kirsty and Michael left a cold car park at Inchnadamph to climb Conival and Ben More Assynt in what proved to be a marvellous climb above the cloud.  Unfortunately one of the party was taken ill and was accompanied back to the hut by Arthur.   While the others continued, Arthur was able to return and climb Beinn an Fhurain (861m) and visit the Anson crash site and war grave.  Unfortunately he also found the body of a missing springer spaniel.

Andreas, Ewen and Gina went for the lesser height of Beinn Fhuarain (499m) and were rewarded with a wonderful brocken spectre.  Alan in the meantime had scaled Cnoc an Leathead Bhig to take photos.

Peter, Marion, Andrew and Louise took the path beside the Cam Loch in the direction of Canisp.  The sun eventually broke through to reveal the dome of Canisp and the dramatic dark spike of Suilven appeared above the cloud, and they too saw brocken spectres and an interesting, steeply-curved white ‘cloudbow’.  They returned by the same route in sunshine, with great views across the loch to Suilven and Cul Mor.

The Burns supper was a success once again with excellent food, the much anticipated verse from Robin and a bit of a sing song with Gina and Andrew playing the guitar.

Sunday started cold and plans were less ambitious.  Peter, Marion, Andrew and Louise met up with  Alan, Gina and Michael by the lighthouse at Rhue point, watching shags and seals.  Marion and Peter then walked on round the cliffs overlooking Isle Martin, before they all resorted to the Ceilidh Place.

Robin treated Shona to the delights of caving with a visit to the Cnoc Nan Uamh caves.  In the meantime Arthur went up Cul Mor.

Inverness Climbing Wall meet, 15 January

The first climbing meet of the year was to the climbing wall at Inverness Leisure.  Proving popular, 20 members (old and new) made it along to the climbing wall, followed by coffee and cake at the floral hall.  Despite being very busy, new members got a taster session on the basics – a big thank you to those who helped out.

A number of suggestions for meets were made, and we will try to do our best to include these into future meets: Glen Marksie, Torridon, mid-week climbing with MRT for technique practice, Ardheslaig, Cummingston, Ravens Crag, Creag Bheag – Golspie.  If you have any suggestions, please let Sherine know.

The next climbing wall meet will be on 12 Feb 2017 at the Three Wise Monkeys in Fort William.  Watch your mailbox for details.  Look forward to seeing you there.

Strathconon, 7 January 2017

Members of the youth section of Inverness MC – Ewen, Michael, Robin and Arthur – loaded up the car with their best winter gear for the first club expedition of the New Year.  Unfortunately, the crampons remained in the car boot and the axes were never removed from the sacks on what proved to be one of the milder days of an already mild winter. Nevertheless, the mist lying in the glen gave Strathconon a delightfully surrealistic feel.  The day was a pleasant one, punctuated by many pauses to take in the views, put the world to right or discuss snippets of history and science. Such wisdom is rare in those of this age.

On Sgurr a Mhuilinn we came across the site of a lightning strike: disturbed soil and rocks with the strike earthing in a characteristic star pattern.  Arthur had already found a similar strike on Meallan nan Uan on a previous visit. So, beware of these hills on a stormy day.  Two large groups of ptarmigan vainly sought the camouflage of the few snow patches on Sgurr a Mhuilinn. We sought refuge in the Lovat Arms in Beauly.

Mill Cottage Christmas Dinner Meet, 9/10 December

We had a full house for our Christmas dinner meet on 9/10 December in the ever-popular Mill Cottage, at Feshiebridge in the sunny Cairngorms.  Well, maybe not sunny; it was almost midwinter, but despite that everyone enjoyed a good day out on the Saturday followed by an excellent meal contributed by members.

Annie and Lisa walked to Ruigh Aiteachain on Saturday, while Fay, Peter, Marion and Catherine did Meall a’Bhuachaille.  The prize for effort goes to Michael and Wendell who went to attempt Craig Meagaidh, but high winds and showers made progress difficult.  At the top of the ‘Window’, Wendell disappeared into the storm whilst Michael got comfy in his bothy bag till Wendell’s return.

The Sunday was a more benign day so Fay and Michael went up Carn Ban Mor and returned over Carn Ban Beag.  Catherine went on a walk in Inshriach Nature reserve from opposite the Gliding Club site, and raised a capercaillie which flew over the path about 10 feet in front of her; a rare sight!

Carn Chuisseag, 27 November

A group of four – Arthur and Michael, with new member Elinor and guest Faisal – had a grand day out on Carn
Chuisseag.  We walked in from Glen Calvie Lodge picking up the stalkers path after Diebedale.  The previous weeks snow had been all but stripped from the hill by a couple of warm days, but we found a patch big enough to practice some ice axe skills.

The afternoon chilled considerably.  So we hurried off, pausing only to admire a couple of ptarmigans with winter plumage puffed up against the cold and to chat briefly to a runner in shorts and baselayer heading for the summit.  It was a very enjoyable day out.

Rucksacks Hostel, Braemar, 11/12 November

Eleven folk spent an enjoyable weekend at Kate’s excellent hostel in Braemar, although it has to be said that the weather was mixed over the weekend.  Richard, Shona, Annie, Cerian and Arthur explored Glen Callater, checking out the refurbished bothy at Lochcallater Lodge – which is much improved, but still no stove or fire – and
variously ascending Carn an Tuirc and Creag nan Gabhar.  Robin and Fay ticked off Cullardoch. Sunday saw parties on Morven from Glen Fenzie and Creag Leachach with Glas Maol from Glen Shee.

Stars of the weekend, however, were Michael and Peter who went for a look at the conditions on Lochnagar and became misplaced in the woods around Balmoral as they were returning in the gloaming. Fortunately, they met a very nice lady with a group of small dogs who unlocked the gate to set them on their way again.


Beinn Mheadhoin, 22 October 2016

A small group of four, Richard, Steve, Vanessa and Elinor (the last two being prospective members) had a long day across the Cairngorm plateau to Beinn Mheadhoin and back. Reports of a torchlit descent in the dark have been heard.