Crianlarich Easter meet, 15-17 April 2017

The Easter weekend saw the IMC at the luxurious Inverardran cottage in Crianlarich; the Ochils club have spent a lot of time and money upgrading it.  The weather on the first two days was poor, so most folk headed for the smaller hills.

On Saturday Arthur went to Ardtalnaig and climbed two Corbetts – Creagan na Beinne and Ciste Buide a’ Claidheimh (the latter aka the Shee of Ardtalnaig).  Cerian, Michael, Mel, Kirsty and her friend Hannah, Annie, Eelco and John climbed Ben More – photo below – with the top in soft snowy conditions, before deciding not to go on to Stob Binnean because of the wind.  Peter, Marion, Lisa and Jim went up Creag Each and Creag Ruadh at Lochearnside; Ewen forsook the latter in favour of a coffee shop and pub in St Fillans.

The weather in the west on Sunday left something to be desired, so John and Eelco went up A’Mharconaich and Geal-Charn from the A9 on the way home.  Cerian, Annie, Michael and Arthur wimped out of Ben Ledi because of heavy rain, but went round Callander Woodland Walk, the Crags and Bracklinn Falls, finishing off by inspecting the kayaking waters at the Pass of Leny.  Jim and Ewen did something similar but in a different order, omitting the Pass of Leny but including another excellent coffee shop on the site of Strathyre station.

Mel and Lisa went up Meall Buidhe from Glen Ogle on their way home.  Arthur followed in their footsteps in the evening after the Callander adventures.  Peter and Marion went up Ciste Buidhe a’Claidheimh, following in Arthur’s footsteps of the day before.   Marion unfortunately fell crossing a burn and fractured her radius necessitating a late night visit to the Belford Hospital in Fort William for treatment, then on to Raigmore the following day to have the fracture set.

There was a depleted cast on Monday, but of those lucky enough not to have work commitments, Jim and Ewen took the Corran Ferry to Ardgour in superb weather.  They ascended Meall Dearg Choire nam Muc above the village of Corran.  There were excellent views of the Glencoe and Ardgour hills; photo above.

Cerian and Annie attacked Farragon Hill from Loch Tummel and met Arthur who had traversed Meall Tairneachan from Tomphubil.  Annie kindly gave Arthur a lift back to his car from Loch Tummelside.  The Barytes mine at Foss and the possible new mine  at Duntanlich were of great interest to the group.

 

Day meet to the Cairngorms, Sunday 2nd April 2017

With an excellent day forecast seven members – Arthur, Ewen, Wendell, Michael G., John, Robin, Colin (& Jura the Border Collie) – and two guests, Juliet (just moved to Inverness), and Eelco (from the Netherlands but in Inverness for a few months) set off for the Cairngorms in well-nigh perfect mountain walking conditions.

Michael elected to make his own route onto the plateau, eventually making his way to MacDui, while the others set off up the ridge between Cairn Lochan and Lurcher’s Crag with the same idea in mind.  The main party picked up another two companions on the way – Barbara (from Italy) and Monika (from Poland) who were unsure of the route to MacDui and were promptly invited to join the merry band.

From MacDui’s summit the plan was to visit the Shelter Stone and return via Coire Raibeirt (minus our two hitchhikers) but after a pleasant lunch break by Loch Etchachan, where Eelco successfully accepted a challenge from Arthur to walk out over the ice to pose for photos on an exposed rock (tough luck Arthur!), we found ourselves slogging up the gravelly slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin and along the broad plateau to scramble up its monolithic summit tor.  Even Robin managed this without falling off as he did on his last visit a few winters ago – see Mike Dixon for details!

There followed a somewhat challenging crossing of the River Avon – accomplished at the cost of a few wet feet and a lost walking pole – to attain the Saddle and the long interminable plod up to the summit of Cairngorm.  By this time the long mountain miles were beginning to tell, with even Jura the ever-energetic collie having to lie down for a rest.

From there it was a direct descent through the sadly snowless ski area to rendezvous with Michael before heading off to the Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore for a very welcome rehydrating pint.  Thanks to Arthur for arranging perfect weather, and to everyone for a great companionable day.

Onich meet, 10-11 March

The weekend of 11/12 March saw a full house at the Alex Macintyre hut in Onich.  Indifferent weather meant that no-one had a big day on the hill, but Steve and Ewen had a cloud-free day on Saturday up Sgurr Choinnich, a Graham to the north of Loch Arkaig.

The objective for the ‘A’ team on Saturday was Meall Lighiche, south of Glencoe opposite the Clachaig.  Mel, Cerian, Annie and Michael followed the Allt na Muidhe burn intending to cross to the west bank to climb, however the burn was very high so they continued south to the bealach.  They returned down the intended ascent route, fortunately finding the burn had dropped enough to cross.  A visit to the Clachaig Inn was great motivation!

Deteriorating weather from the west on Sunday meant that most folk headed east to Beinn a’Chrulaiste north of the Kingshouse Hotel, which is currently closed for extensive renovations and will not re-open until 2019.  Now the good news; there’s a small cafe bar at the back which is open, and was a very welcome refuge after a damp and misty ascent of the hill.

Also on Sunday Richard and Shona enjoyed a rather claggy walk up the Pap of Glencoe, with limited views from about 450m on the way down.  It didn’t seem a popular hill that day!  In accordance with Fort William tradition they stopped off at Nevisport for a browse and a coffee.  Richard felt that he could have composed this part of the meet report before he left inverness!  But despite the weather, it was a very sociable meet in a comfortable hut.

 

Day meet to Glen Shiel, 5 March 2017

The heavy rain and sleet, mist and low cloud did not augur well.  We had delayed the meet from the previous day when the weather was even more inclement, on the promise by the Met Office of better weather.

Only on reaching the Cluanie Dam did our pessimism recede.  Fresh snow sparkled in the spring sunshine, cottonwool clouds floated around the peaks and all was reflected in the mirror like surface of Loch Cluanie.

We set off up the path from Lundie wending our way between the boulders, small crags and slabs at the top of the path before joining the ridge and wandering over to Carn Ghluasaid summit.  Cloud enveloped us briefly, but navigation to Creag a Chaorainn was easy – “keep the cornice to your right”.

There, Michael and Arthur turned around and strolled back down over Carn Ghluasaid.  Meanwhile, Elinor, Robin and newcomer John – an expat from the Caithness Club – went on to Sgurr nan Conbhairean and returned the same way.

Glen Shiel (MG)

The Cabin, Laggan: 17-19 February 2017

Eight club members turned out for this meet.  That was probably a good number for the Edinburgh JMCS cottage at Balgowan, near Laggan.  It meant that there was plenty of room on the alpine hut style sleeping platforms and the kitchen and social area were comfortable.

The weather forecast was not great, but Wendell and Shona set off for the Carn Mor Dearg arete.  They encountered rain, cloud, wind and almost no snow.  People were walking off the climbs on the North Face as they walked in.  They abandoned the plan for the CMD but went up the Corrie Leis headwall, over the summit and down via the Half Way Lochan in pretty miserable conditions.

Michael was nursing a sore ankle so went up the track by Cluny Castle and climbed Carn an Leth-choin at his own pace.  Kirsty biked up the same track and climbed Carn Dearg, then went off to Wolftrax in search of coffee and more biking action.

The remaining crew of Arthur, Ewen, Richard and Robin went up Meal nan Eagan and explored the glacial meltwater channels of Dirc Mor and Dirc Beag.  The idea of going on to The Fara was quietly dropped as the weather closed in.  One significant learning point was that the path from the Raeburn Hut to Loch Caoldair  was not the best approach to Meall nan Eagan.

Sunday saw Lisa, Wendell and Kirsty head off to Three Wise Monkeys Climbing Wall in Fort William.

The rest of the team explored the early Pictish fort on Dun da Lamh and wandered along the forested ridge of Black Craig then on to the Graham of Creag Ruadh.  The approaching bank of cloud over Loch Laggan made the idea of coffee and cake in the Pottery Bunkhouse on the old Wade Military Road (more prosaically, the A889) very attractive.  And so it was.

Cloud rolling in over Loch Laggan – AMcC

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!