Monday, 10 November 2008

Slioch and Sneachda - 8th/9th Nov '08

Saturday I had thought a front was to be passing through bringing rain, but it came earlier on Fri eve and we were left with sunshine in the NW for Saturday. Usual decision followed of what hills to do, and we decided on Slioch as I hadn't been up it and it had been a while since Andy had done it too, and it would a nice longer day out if we didn't get out on Sunday due to the forecast high winds.
We arrived at the carpark and set off about 10.30. We seemed to get along the Kinlochewe River fairly quickly, blethering away about this and that, and Andy pointing out the Red Slabs on Meall a' Ghuibhais, Waterfall Buttress and Bonaid Dhonn on Beinn a' Mhuinidh. We soon arrived at a wooded area at the end of Loch Maree and Andy thought the path should have cut off before this. I was dubious, the map showing the path cutting off further along but decided to go along with Andy's 'short cut'
Well, we ended up not finding a bridge across the Abhainn an Fhasaigh, and the river got too gorge like, narrow and fast flowing further upsteam, so rather than walk back down the way we came, we stripped off our breeks and boots and waded across the cold water, it coming just over my knees at it's high point. The rocks underfoot were pretty slippy and it was a case of trying to balance going fast enough so my legs didn't freeze but go slow enough so I didn't slip and fall in! I was over in a couple of minutes though, and my breeks and socks felt quite nice and cozy after that! I had mentioned earlier that Loch Maree looked nice and appealing for a swim earlier and I should have kept quiet!
We stopped for lunch on the flat spot of Meall Each and then carried on to the col between Sgor Dubh and Slioch, where there were 2 wee lochans glittering in the sunlight. The sun had been blazing up to this point and my trousers were rolled up as was my top, as I was utterly boiling. The lochan looked so appealing and pretty that I decided to have another wee dip! I must be bonkers I thought! Andy sat himself down on a rock with a bar of chocolate looking bemused as I stripped off for a second time. I got in as far as my knees before it got too much and my legs started going numb! Feck me, that's cold!!!!!! I squeeled and ran out, jumping onto a big rock. Some leg rubbing later, I was cozy again and we set off for the summit.
Clear skies abound, and the views were gorgeous, over to Fisherfield in the North with An Teallach peaking over the tops of A'Mhaighdean and Ruadh Stac Mor, the heights of Kinlochewe to the East, Beinn Eighe and Beinn Dearg to the South and the Stone Valley area and Peninsula to the West, simply wonderful!

We trotted round to Sgurr an tuill Bhain, then very steeply back down to the Coire and to the path and the long slog back to the car, stopping in Inverness for fish and chips before heading back to Andy's.
The forecast still looked pretty minging for Sunday, so we decided to wait and see what the morning brought before making any hard and fast decisions. Morning brought about a nice lie in and when I peeked through the curtains at about 8.30, there was snow lying in Andy's garden, hurrah! Didn't think it was going to come so low. It was still pretty blowie however so we didn't hurry. We decided to get our stuff together and drive up to Cairgorm ski carpark and see what the wind was like when we got there. It was pretty yucky to be honest, snow falling and the wind still gusting and we deliberated for some time whether to carry on or turn back. Aaaaaaaarg, it was hard, I was tired and the car was nice cozy, but in the end I got out the car,decided it wasn't too bad really and we set off for Coire an Sneachda.
The wind was blowing around 40mph with gusts of 50, so not too bad, but still tiresome walking against it the whole way in. It was a bit more sheltered up by Mess of Pottage and it was absolutely delightful to be the only climbers in the corrie! We just decided to go up Jacob's Left Edge for a quick day, seen as conditions wern't 100% and we were unsure if the wind was still gonna pick up.

Andy had packed a short rope and naff all gear, to go lightly, but hadn't realised just how short the rope was at 20m! No point in pitching whatsover so we just moved together the whole way, running the rope around blocks etc. And we were up the route in half an hour, the quickest I've done a route in my life! The snow was firm enough to take our weight when needed and the turf was frozen at the top only but you don't need it on this route anyway. There looked to be more snow and hoar on the cliffs up by Fiaciall, and the rocks on Pottage were bare of hoar, but there was ice forming.
The wind had settled some on the top, so just a wee bitty gusty for the walk off. Very glad we left the car in the end, and quite chuffed and smug to get a wee sneaky route in, on a day where everyone else obviously thought the weather was going to be too wild.

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