Glas Leathad Mòr (Ben Wyvis) - 1046m
Sunday 7th August 2016
Weather/Conditions: Mega winds! Utterly mental, and hard to move around in. I looked later; on only three days the previous winter did the winds exceed the speed of this day. Otherwise dry (rain shadow, likely) with cloud.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 14.5km / 950m / 4h 35m
Accompanying: Iain Rooney
What the heck - we'd go for it anyway. I think we stopped in Strathpeffer for shopping before heading to Garbat, and even at low levels the winds was blowing hard.
As we walked into An Cabar we knew it was going to be bad on the tops, and that high flank of An Cabar seemed to catch it especially badly. We could still walk, to some degree, but communication didn't go much beyond pointing directions, a smile or a thumbs up.
We hid in the shade of the cairn on An Cabar, the wild weather raging around about. I hadn't really expected to make it up here. Some folk had headed down prematurely, but now we were here, it made sense to head along the great broad shoulder to Glas Leathad Mor. I think we may have been the only ones to do so.
The summit of Wyvis was to the north, and as the wind was coming from a broadly southerly direction, it meant we just got blown across the top with the wind screaming at our backs. There really was very little effort involved, and I found this place fun and exhilarating rather than anything else more sinster.
I had a quick peek down Martin Moran's eastern coire then continued to the summit, once again taking shelter in the cairn.
We also figured there wasn't much point in fighting down the way we came, so we continued north with the wind to land ourselves below Tom a' Choinnich. I decided against climbing this; I'll climb it with Glas Leathad Beag another time. And instead, we just set our course westerly and dropped into the more shaded lower slopes, back to some kind of sanity.
It wasn't over yet; this route down by the Allt Tom a' Choinnich seemed a lot longer than it looked on the map, and there also seemed to be a lack of any reliable traces of path. Nonetheless it makes Ben Wyvis a good loop rather than the normal up-and-down.
Laterally, we ended up in forest, tracing the edge of the allt. We met the forestry tracks which would take us back to join our route of ascent and the car.
It was some day. I highly enjoyed the craziness of it, but it was wild without malice. I mentioned the wind speeds were on a par with the very highest of the previous winter. But they were justifiable with good visibility and no rain. Throw a blizzard hurling spindrift across that plateau into the mix, and you'd have a very different picture.
That evening I went to stay with Ken MacTaggart in Inverness, and the following day did the South Shiel ridge on my (convoluted) way home to Glasgow.
(0.00) 12.30pm Garbat parking
(1.35) 2.05pm An Cabar
(2.05) 2.35pm Glas Leathad Mor
(4.35) 5.05pm Garbat parking