5th and 6th of March, 2010 – Beinn a’ Chreachain and Beinn Achaladair

Friday

Matt and myself spent two hours walking in to Gorton Bothy under a starry sky which itself provided enough light on the snowy terrain for us to make it all the way without torches, in fact, we only had them on a couple of times where the depth of snow made it hard to tell which way the track lay ahead. There was a hint of light off to the south which suggested the moon was going to join us for the walk in but it never did show over the hills and didn’t provide much light on the ground.

Soon after leaving the car we could see torches further up the glen and we arrived at the bothy shortly after a group of four who were just getting a nice fire going. They had set off slightly earlier but laboured under two days of food, drink and 20kg of coal! Nice bunch to chat with but it had been a long day / night and soon the bothy was silent but for some snoring and occasional hissing – the poor guy in our room had a leaky sleeping mat which needed regular re-fills of air.

Saturday

After a few spells of being awake through the night and sleeping on a hard floor it seems that no matter how early you get up it is something like having had a lie-in, so it was quite relief to finally get moving about.

About 9am, we set-off up Beinn a’ Chreachain pretty much direct, using a bridge just east of the bothy which thankfully avoided back-tracking to the more commonly used approach bridge. Sweating buckets under mild temperatures and heavy packs we soon discovered that the wind had an edge on reaching the ridge so layers were repeatedly on and off over the course of the day.

The ridge provided a nice meandering route taking in the main hills as well as a couple of other tops along the way, the main highlight being a steeper narrow section with lots of interesting snow / ice formations on either side. Great views in all directions made all the better for clouds in the distance and lack of snow on the lower ground, plenty of contrast rather than just a blanket covering of snow.

Along the route we found ourselves walking on a wide array of snow-types, slushy, powdery, crusty and something resembling icy soap flakes, not always on the most obvious slopes with respect to exposure to the sun – a bit of a mystery. At one point we heard a large sudden rumble in the direction of the hills south west of us and wondered if it would have been a distant avalanche.

The descent was a bit of a trudge – not the most glorious end to what had been a really good walk – made all the worse when I decided not to wait for home to have a bath and plundged on all fours through ice into a couple of feet of water.

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