Sgiath Chuil - 921m
Beinn Cheathaich - 937m
Meall Glas - 959m
Saturday 13th February 2010
Weather/Conditions: Fair weather all day, with a little wind and sun breaking through the thin cloud layer later in the day. Cold, with plenty of snow and a beautiful sunset.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 16.8km / 1250m / 8h 40m
Accompanying: Bealach MC (Dave, Dougie, James, Ian, Iain)
But in any case, I wasn't complaining about a trip to the mountains. In retrospect, this was a trip so well worth doing - the weather like the first time was magnificent when the sun finally broke through the clouds at sunset. I'd had no plans anyway and I'd be more than happy to go out with the Club again. Michael had asked me if I wanted to go up to the Southern Cairngorms on the Friday afternoon but I had to decline because of commitments on Friday night. Michael tragically died on that Cairngorm trip and the news was devastating to myself and everybody I knew.
Michael's premature death affected me across several future hillwalking trips and I may add more there, but for this walk I'll write more about the day. I met Dave on the A82 and we headed up through Crianlarich to Lix Toll where we met the other four guys who had come from the east side of the country - James, Dougie, Ian and Iain. We headed into Killin then down the single track road into Glen Lochay. Once at Kenknock at the end of the road, we got our stuff together and set off.
The River Lochay has to be forded, unless you go way upstream. My boots are also good (although seeing some wear and tear) so I got across without problems. The river itself ran among plenty of ice due to the recent cold weather, but nobody had trouble and we were soon on the right side and ready to tackle the hills. Sgiath Chuil presented us with a long gradual ascent up the northern slopes and a plod through the snow took us onto it's broad north ridge. The ascent wasn't eventful, but it was sure fun. I was more than happy to be on these hills again. I tend like seeing new places, treading new ground and seeing the mountains from new perspectives, but doing these ones again suited me fine. If all went well, the weather might be kind to us too.
We headed up onto the summit ridge of Sgiath Chuil and south to the summit, which lay at the lower end of this ridge. It was fairly cold by now but the air was clear and the cloud layer was far above the summits. Views down Glen Dochart and across to Ben More were particularly rewarding.
Descent to the Lairig
But we were on our way soon and Ian, James and I headed down some of the steeper west slopes in the direction of Meall Glas. The other three took an alternative route further to the north where the slopes weren't as steep. Since our group had split into two, the small group I was with didn't know where the others were while they scouted out an alternative descent route. So not knowing what to do for the moment, we took time to try some ice axe self-arresting. I learnt a lot by doing this and was scooting down the snow fields head first before flipping around onto my front and stopping. I was quite pleased with myself. With some of the routes I'd been doing in the mountains recently, it could help to know the self arrest a little better and I certainly learnt a lot today.
But we headed onwards and in the broad 'lairig' between the two Munros, we spotted the other guys descending further along the ridge. When we were back together, we chose to head onwards to Meall Glas.
And Meall Glas was where the real fun began. Indeed, it was a long slog to gain the ridge to it's subsidiary Munro Top, Beinn Cheathaich, but once we were up it was well worth every once of effort. We'd got onto the summits just in time for sunset and the colours were outstanding. The clouds around about were heavy and dark, but contrasted by bright snow covered mountains. The relief on the hills and the band of gold on the horizon were wonderful and amazing to watch and the colours and shades shifted all through the late-afternoon. It was sure an amazing place to be and I knew it was pure chance that for a second time on these hills, I'd beared witness to beautiful summits views.
The walk from Beinn Cheathaich to Meall Glas was long and by then the sun had gone behind the cloud. The views wasn't so impressive anymore, but it was great just being up there not to mention the band of gold that still sat on the horizon. Such a great place to be...
And having spent ten or fifteen minutes on top, we headed down in the direction of Kenknock in Glen Lochay, traversing Beinn Cheathaich to gain the track leading back. The sun came back out again and lit Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich across the glen. The sun was out on the peaks once more before it slipped away beneath the horizon. Dougie and I, in the middle of talking about all sorts of things ended up far behind the other guys and it was only nearly back at the valley floor in semi-darkness that we met up with them again. In the process, I dropped my ice axe, realising only 30 metres below that it was gone. So the 30 metres had to be re-climbed and with darkness setting in, I spent a couple of minutes scanning the area before realising it was lying close to my feet the whole time. There's a lot to be said for not using a black ice axe.
With all my possessions on my back, we continued down the track towards the River Lochay, crossed it easily (it was at a lower level than in the morning) then got back at the cars soon after. Darkness fell as we arrived back and we left Glen Lochay, bound for home, stopping at Killin on the way. We went into a bar for some drinks, I got some soup, but then headed down the A82 back to Glasgow.
Meall Glas - sunset, 100°
(0.00) 9.50am Kenknock, Glen Lochay
(3.00) 12.50pm Sgiath Chuil
(5.45) 3.35pm Beinn Cheathaich
(6.20) 4.10pm Meall Glas
(8.40) 6.30pm Kenknock, Glen Lochay