Sunday, 1 February 2009

Slowly losing the will to live - 1st Feb '09

Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggg!!!!! I NEED TO CLIMB!!! It's been 3 long weeks without feeling scared out my wits, without thinking, 'oh my god, what the f*ck am I doing hanging off this cliff in the freezing, bloody cold! Come next weekend, if conditions are rubbish or I have a partner cancel on me, I *will* slit my wrists.
OK, drama over...........
I was supposed to climb this weekend with the wife of one of Andy's mates. Andy had been guiding all week, with today off and I wanted to climb yesterday and have today off too, so I wasn't knackered for my Biology exam tomorrow. So, Saturday it was (or wasn't as the case may be)
The forecast was changeable from day to day, but was slowly looking worse as the week went on. Friday's forecast had the freezing level lifting above the summits and being a bit blowie with gusts of 60 forecast. I was still keen to have a nosey though, with the option of taking the climbing gear for a walk if things were duff. But Diana wasn't so keen and had work that she needed to get on with and when Andy checked the Cairngorm summit forecast in the morning and it read gusts of 100mph, then I guess we made the right call by cancelling. Seems though, that Mess of Pottage was a bit more sheltered and some folk had made it up there to climb (Diana's husband being one of them! But hey ho, such is the nature of the game)
Decided to go for a hill walk instead, at least getting out on the hill was better than doing nothing. Either the hills down Glen Feshie way or the Monadh Liath were the nearest to Andy's that I hadn't been up before, so decided on the nearest Monadh Liath (A' Chailleach and Carn Sgulain)
I was feeling lazy and couldn't be bothered with an early start so pottered about in the morning, slowly getting myself woken up and organised. Was about 10ish when I finally pulled up in the Shephard's Bridge carpark, to be greeted by a billion other cars! Bollox, I wasn't really in the mood for a busy hill, much preferring solitude. But, busy it was, surprisingly, I didn't think these would be such popular hills. Folk seemed to be heading up the hill in a NW direction, but avoiding the path I made my own way directly up the hill, aiming up towards Creag na h-lolare. Was probably about half way up there when I started regretting straying off the path. There was a semi hard crust on the top of the snow which would hold my weight for a few footsteps but then I'd break through, sometimes fairly deeply and it was making the going hard work! I decided that heading right up onto the ridge would be exposed to the wind and started contouring round underneath instead to rejoin the path not far below the summit. And windy it was! The wind had blown something into my eye, couldn't get it out and my eye was streaming in protest! I did toy with heading back down in case it got to the point where I couldn't open my eye. But nah, I've had to drag myself one legged off the hill before, damned if a sore eye was going to put me off!
I nearly fell over a few times on the top as it was pretty icy and try as I might to avoid the verglass the wind kept blowing me on to slippy bits. I didn't hang around for long and ploughed on downhill, where above the Allt Cuil na Caillich the snow got too firm to plough down and heels were needed to dig in. Was a short slope though and soon enough I was fighting my way up into the wind again and onto the next summit. I sheltered behind a wee cairn for a bite to eat and then dropped down quickly, running and jumping down through the soft snow, was braw! Came to a steepening and could see folk out in front heading around the edge to where it was less steep. Peering over the edge though I could see a way down through the steeper ground and moving around a rocky bluff, I picked my way through and around a few wee rocky steps and across some scree and down a steeping, jumping into mid thigh deep drifts at points. Took a bit longer than walking, but was more fun! And then, jeeze what a slog back to the car! No path, heather bashing, breaking through the snowy crusts again, trying to avoid bog, unsuccessfully I might add after falling into a hole and getting my foot and lower leg soaking wet (and freezing!) But och, a day on the hill just isnae the same if ye dinnae fall intae a bog, min! After the slog and just where the path started up, there was a gate, just sat all on it's ownsome which amused me. It just looked so random sitting there, like a gate to nowhere. Took some photos of it, but these things never turn out how they looked at the time (or they don't if you've not a keen eye for photography!)
The sun was blazing down here, jacket was off, hat was off and it was nice to feel the sun beam down, so much so I started thinking about rock climbing! Bring on next week though, more snow forecast, hurrah!

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