Sgiath Chùil - 921m
Meall Glas - 959m
Beinn Chaluim - 1025m
Saturday 18th May 2013
Weather/Conditions: Dry throughout but with fast-moving skies as though something was to arrive. A little mist on Sgiath Chuil, thick mist on Meall Glas, then torn mist and booming winds on the way over Beinn Chaluim. Quite spectacular, actually.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 21.3km / 2000m / 8h
Accompanying: Alone to Beinn Chaluim, then met Kev McKeown on the summit for the way back to Strath Fillan
The weather had changed, and the skies were dark and unsettled. Mum and dad had come up for a day trip, so they took my camping kit in the car, and dropped me off at Kenknock, Glen Lochay.
The light was very weird. Dark clouds and light patches rushed through a troubled sky. I felt like the rain clouds would burst into life at any moment. The summits grew cloud caps and it made me nervous. It also didn't help that I'd planned to meet Kev McKeown on the summit of Beinn Challum (#3) at 5pm. I'd started late and now I didn't have so long to get there.
I put on a pace for the first time in days and flew up Sgiath Chuil. It was hard work but the body kept ticking over and working as it should. I got to the top in 1h 40m and down to the bealach to Meall Glas in bang on 2 hours. 8km in 2 hours, over a Munro - not bad going!
I rushed up Meall Glas and found myself in mist, on slippery grass and snow, which took a little nerve to get by. Dink phoned, I had to ask him to phone back, as the navigation had become quite intense, and demanded attention. A lot of mist and drizzle saw me to the top of Meall Glas.
The drop towards Beinn Challum from here is enormous: down to 350m and back up to over 1000m. I continued west, down long grassy slopes to the river below. It went down a long way, but it strikes me that when you anticipate a huge workload, you simply accept it and work through it. In the past, I've had a nightmare on summits with just 100m height gain, because I'd expected them to be easy. I expected a battle to get to Beinn Challum, so I put my head down and simply plodded on.
Since I'd got over Sgiath Chuil in very good time, I had some time to play with, with the aim of meeting Kev on the summit of Challum at 5pm. I took breaks, shot some film, watched in awe and heavy clouds battered themselves against the mountain slopes. It was an awe-inspiring place. From Glen Lochay, Beinn Challum looks incredible (stark contrast to the Crianlarich side, where it's almost invisible!) and it was humbling to stand and watch the cloud tearing itself across a snow-streaked summit ridge I was about to climb.
I reached the top about 5:10pm. The summit cairn was deserted. The wind was strong and directional, so I sat in one side of the cairn almost completely untroubled. Kev arrived five minutes later with his dog Rupert, who'd both had a fight to get to the top. It was a wild afternoon and we spent 10 minute on top taking pics, looking at the map and sharing Kev's flask of soup. Bliss.
But although I loved being in this wild, turbulent place, it was time to get down. We got battered by wind on the summit ridge, and dropped into Coire nan Each to get out. I checked some boulders for climbing (which didn't amount to much, as usual) and we headed down Gleann a' Chlachain, back to Strath Fillan. Mum and dad were waiting, having had a good day themselves. Rain fell as we drove off, and it was only later I'd discovered that although I'd got off lightly: the Central Belt had seen torrential rain.
It's been a crazy three days, with many ups and downs - but mostly ups. It became quite clear to me that I would only do a walk of this magnitude over mountains, because they are the only thing I know that inspire me so deeply. I don't know anything else that would allow me to push through those mental barriers. But it's worth finding the strength to push through those barriers of doubt and motivation. The Munros of Orchy and Mamlorn gave me a well-remembered battle. I'm sure there will be many more to come.
(0.00) 11.33am Kenknock
(1.40) 1.13pm Sgiath Chuil
(3.02) 2.35pm Meall Glas
(5.37) 5.10pm Beinn Chaluim
(5.52) c. 5.25pm Beinn Chaluim (left)
(8.00) 7.33pm Kenknock