Members' reports 2016-17
Sheena and Stuart's last Munro
Christmas Curry Night
Bring on the New Year
Paul Prior's last Munro
Stuchd an Lochan
Ben Starav and Meall Nan Aighenan
Drumnadrochit: Glen Affric, The Saddle, Glen Nevis, Chno Dearg
Stob Ban (Grey Corries)
Glen Luss: Mid Hill, Beinn Dubh; Beinn Eich
Inverey: Glas Tulaichean, Carn an Righ; Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise, Tolmount, Tom Buidhe; Beinn Bhreac, Beinn a' Chaorainn; Sgurr Mor, Creag Bhaig; An Socach; Meall Chuaich
Meall Glas, Beinn Cheathaich
Ptarmigan Ridge (Ben Lomond)
Blackwater Hostel, Kinlochleven: Aonach Beag; Sgurr Eilde Mor; Stob Coire Easain, Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin; Meall Mor, Sgorr a’Choise; Devil's Staircase; the Lost Valley; Ice Factor
Creag Gharbh (Graham)
Beinn na Gainimh
Meall nan Tarmachan
Sgiath a Chaise
John McBaron, 22 April 2016
Sron Choire Ghairbh, An Teallach and Ciste Dhubh.
April 19th to 21st was a weather window if ever I had seen one. Wednesday’s weather on MWIS was a cracking 70% for the North West and AnTeallach was waiting for me there. I also could do a wee recce on the Fisherfields.
Tuesday 19th I got myself together and heading up to Kilfinnan. For the third time this year I walked the long track through the South Laggan Forest and up the Coffin Road. This time no post-bevvy illnesses or white outs, and had a good run to the summit of Sron a Choire Ghairbh. There was a large cornice still in place that made my decision to turn back in January an excellent safe one. On this occasion I observed a double cornice this is the right to Sean Mheall.
I spotted two walkers on the ridge and had a brief chat, topping Sean Mheall then Meall Dearg without issue. The vista was fantastic: the Grey Corries, the Ben and the Aonachs still in their winter coats. Views to the north of the Great Glen and the hill towards Glen Dessary and Knoydart, I could see for miles.
I spotted two walkers on the ridge and had a brief chat, topping Sean Mheall then Meall Dearg without issue. The vista was fantastic: the Grey Corries, the Ben and the Aonachs still in their winter coats. Views to the north of the Great Glen and the hill towards Glen Dessary and Knoydart, I could see for miles.
Coming of the nose of the hill was a bit more difficult. Crag and wet moss is no-one’s favourite at the end of the day. In the car and off to Torridon SYHA. It was getting late on my arrival and it was very quiet: I had my own room.
Wednesday 20th up and at it. No kitchen queues to contend with and drove round to Dundonnell via Garve. Weather was not looking the promised 70% but nothing to stop me and off I went behind the bungalows on to the hill. I felt the 4k up on the approach went on forever; I was not making good time. Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill was hiding at first in the mist but sorted out the three way bealach and the cloud broke close to the top. There was a few slushy bit and wee scrambles. This was OK on the way up but this would give some issues on the way back.
As I summitted as the cloud lifted and a good view of An Teallach bit wintery. I headed down to the bealach between the Munros and Sgurr Fiona was not looking favourable. The snow condition was deep in places, thawing with hidden ice the size of compressed footprints. I remember that the approach from the North West ridge was less exposed but to access this I would have to transverse over quite a rock outcrop. The cronies at the cliff face were going to be interesting. I opened up my head placed my brain on an interesting rock and put a boulder in its place.
I started my slow but safe approach up the North ridge first with two then three points of contact. It is a lot steeper than I expected and would be a fantastic scramble in the summer or an ice climb in the winter, why did I come in the spring?
With lots of variation in my ice axe use, I have to speak to Alex to see if I was truly tooling. I was feeling a bit tool-like; I was going to have to be very careful. I remember Stewart Michie gentleman’s five points of contact rule to get off the steepest of the slope and got to the top of Sgurr Fiona’s airy top.
The Fisherfeild hills were hidden in cloud but Abhainn Strath na Sealga did not look in spate. The mist rolled in and out of An Teallach and its wintery coat, the full transverse would wait for another day. I back climbed on as virgin snow as I could find and collected my brain where I had left it. I then contoured round Bidein and down the path to the car when being chased by the cloud. Torridon was revisited via Poolewe. (Ullapool was fully booked)
Thursday 21st I must have been tired. Got up a six for a pee giving myself another 30 minutes walking at 08:30. Got fed, gather my stuff remembering the drying room and said good bye to the staff. I headed towards the Cluanie Inn with Am Bathach and Ciste Dhubh my targets for the day.
It was not looking good to start, the clag was thick, full water proofs to start, a pull from the start. Very soon I was torn between getting wet from the outside and staying dry on the inside. It was roasting, but when I got on the ridge the wind chill was just fantastic. I went to check how long I had been walking and I looked at my wrist. I like to follow the Davie Gray rule of a small bite every hour. It was not there I must have left it in the car. My watch not my wrist. Well I had plenty of day light. On the top of Am Bathach, Ciste Dhubh was in the rain and rolling cloud ewer coming from the north.
I dropped to the bealach and up the initial steep face nixed to the crags, very boggy. Then I followed the narrowing ridge, on a better path to the summit. The view was fantastic. I tried to work out the time using the sun if I had been wearing an analogue watch as I had my compass, I estimated 14:00Hrs.
I then returned to the car via a boggy An Caorann Beag. I had a faint chirping sounds following me and the smell was pretty bad so I composed this report in my head to take my mind off it.
Catherine Bloomfield, 1 May 2016
A wee day out on Stuchd an Lochan with Catherine Bloomfield. Weather started off damp and cold but brightened up as we reached the top. Finished the day in glorious sunshine. Spotted red squirrel, deer, two fighting pheasants, and ptarmigan; not to mention the mental ram!
Stuart Young, 1 May 2016
Climbing at the weekend with Alex Haken and Paul Valente. Light but wet drizzle as we walked in but at the bottom of the climb it turned into a beautiful day and stayed like that til we had lunch around 3 and then on the walk out wet light drizzle again. So all in all a perfect Scottish summers day.
John McBaron, 6 May 2016
Beep beep beep. It is 05:30 time to move. All my walking clothes are out, a quick wash cereal and coffee. I am the car and away before 6:00. I have planned a long day, I would have gone up the night before but things did not go to plan. So I have a 2 hour drive to Fort William where McDs will provide a coffee and a sausage and egg McMuffin. I would not eat a hash brown if they paid me. So I eat on the move head down the road to roller-coaster of a road beside Loch Arkaig. Only meeting one vehicle driving out towards me, an HGV full of logs that only left me 5 mm to pass.
I parked at the car park at Glen Dessarry and got the bike out, I had everything in the car the previous night so got ready to go. I cycled up to the last house in Upper Glendessarry and chained the bile up to the fence and started the walk in. I got to Allt Coire nan Uth and crossed it without difficulty and headed north up the south shoulder of Sgurr nan Coireachan. Here I found the bridge over the Allt Coire nan Uth, it is 500 m to the south. This is a long slog, relentlessly steep. Got to the top and got fantastic views. There is a very steep decent to the bealach and headed for Garbh Cioch Bheag then along the ridge to for Garbh Cioch Mhor. This is a fantastic section with scrambling in a lot more places than you would expect. There is still snow to the sheltered side of the hill but I never had to get my ice axe out. Yes I did have it just in case. Following the dry stone wall that runs most of the way and keeps you away from the northern cliffs and corries, I got to the top. Again the views were fantastic although a little hazy out to the islands.
Looking at my third Munro of the day Sgurr na Ciche it still had snow on the south side and I could see where others had walked. But where the snow stopped it was unclear what the best way to ascend would be. So I dropped down to the col, climbing over some rocky outcrops and the snowy slushy bealach. I followed the snow step I had observed and at their end a faint path through the scree could be seen. I followed this to the ridge where it was an easy walk to the summit. Fantastic views to Loch Nevis, Loch Quoich, the islands and surrounding hills.
I lingered a bit, it was just before 16:00, I was tired and I knew it was a good three hours to the car. So down to the bealach and into the gully, now this is interesting on all sorts of levels, but you will have to go and see for yourself. Out the gully and I picked out a faint path that later became an off road vehicle track and followed this down. I had by this time run out of water but there is plenty about in the glen. A bus must have pulled in to the car park I passed over 20 people making their way to Sourlies including two rotund Germans. I then got back to the bike, fought of the advances of a cow then a nice glide back to the car at 19:30, 10:30 on the hill. I was feeling it and had a bit of the sun about me. I read that these three hills are not to be underestimated and I have to agree, this was hard work but I got a superb day for it finding it very rewarding.
Bob Gardner, 6 May 2016
Two old farts venture forth to the Lost Valley, Lots of sunshine and Towrists, Very social day out, chatting to all and sundry, (Plenty of sundry). Sat in the valley in the sun, Wonderful way to spend a day...
John McBaron, 11 May 2016
Stob a Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain
I did think about the Fisherfields but I just did not have the time so my Tuesday trip was to be Stob a Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain. I had a leisurely start not walking till about 10:00 at Fersit. The car’s thermometer said it was 24.5 degrees C.
Sun hat and sun screen on and off down the path to the Loch Treig Dam. It was very easy going on the path finding the sheep pen, the crossing of the burn below the wee waterfall and left at the concrete pillar. The path was dry enough and no issues till Meall Cian Dearg. The nose of rock is craggy, wet, boggy and steep. At this point the wind was picking up just to unnerve me a bit more.
When I got to the top I got my first view of my two Munros of the day. There was still snow skirting Coire Shomhairle and with the wind blowing stronger from the south east it kept me away from the edge. No issues but the wind was a pain blowing bits of snow ice and water that skelped me in the face from time to time. Well it’s my own fault having a nice walk in superb visibility and you lot were all working.
There was still a good bit of snow on the north ridge to Stob a Choire Mheadhoin. I had decided it was now spring so I had no irons with me. It was a wee bit icy on the ascent but passable with care. From here there were excellent views in all directions. Next down to the bealach and then up and Stob Coire Easain. The snow was away from the path until the very top where a bank of icy snow gave a bit of interest to get to the top. I lingered on both tops before returning the way I had come, taking care at Meall Cian Dearg. I was at the car by 16:00 and down the road for tea.
Stuart McKie, 15 May 2016
Sheena,Stuart,Tom,Catherine and Laura ventured out today in glorious conditions to Ben Starav and Meall Nan Aighenan.Long day but just brilliant !
Two new ticks for Laura.
Club weekend, Drumnadrochit, 20-22 May 2016
Great plans afoot for this weekend mostly came to naught, scuppered by the weather. Friday night late arrivals to the hostel found thirteen cars already squeezed into six parking spaces, with unfriendly neighbours insisting that we couldn’t park on the road verges. A kitchen the size of s shoebox, a dining room not much bigger, unisex showers with three wash basins between thirty people… sounds like a return to the good old days!
Saturday’s dreich weather put paid to ambitious plans, and most settled for one or both of Tom a' Choinich and Toll Creagach, with one brave soul heading for the Forcan Ridge. The walk up was… wet! The views from the tops were… non-existent! Things started to clear up on the return, and a good job too: the hostel was distinctly lacking a drying room, so late afternoon sunshine was necessary to dry kit on the garden fence. Never mind, the pub was OK…
Sunday’s weather was distinctly better, and folk headed up to Glen Nevis, Chno Dearg and other destinations.
'Never mind the weather, so long as we’re together…' Good company means a good weekend, but note to self: avoid the hostel at Drumnadreichit!
Stuart McKie, Fisherfields, 28-29 May 2016
After three failed attempts we finally got the Fisherfield hills in the bag. Probably the hardest weekend we have had on the hill anywhere!
Rugged, remote, spectacular and utterly magical.
Brilliant weekend with Sheena McKie Catherine Bloomfield and her husband Stuart, not forgetting the young superstar Douglas (boy can that lad motor). That's us down to the final hill which will be Stob Ban in the Grey Corries.
John McGill, 4 June 2016
Just back from fantastic Fisherfields trip. Did the 5 munros yesterday. Hard going with full camping pack. Couldn't believe it when I bumped into John McBarron at Sheneval.
Stuart and Sheena's last Munro, Stob Ban, 18 June 2016
Just a quick thank you from both of us.
Yesterday was a day which we will never forget. We are proud to say that there isn't a single member of Cairn Ban whom we haven't walked, trekked,climbed or cycled with over the years. That probably means more to us than completing our Munros.
Thank you for your help,friendship and company and here's to many more years of adventure together.
Stuart and Sheena
Congratulations to Stuart & Sheena. Great day to compleat their Munros.
What a day was had by all yesterday and so well organised to get the sun shining too. Well done Mr & Mrs Mckie. What a day!
"The hills are alive with the sound of.........Cairnban!". Well done Stuart and Sheena. What a great day.
What a day! Great fun, great company, great weather: when was the last time that it was warm enough that you could lounge around on top of a Munro for an hour, just chilling out and drinking chamnpagne?
Yvonne Calvert, 7 August 2016
An Teallach ridge 280, only 2 to go!
Iain Kent, 28 August 2016
Bagged the Attadale Munro's this weekend with Paul Valente.my company are putting three hydro schemes in on the way to the Munro's. Stayed in the site bunkabins on Friday night and borrowed the company land rover to drop some gear off at the bothy. Cycled in the 10k on Saturday, climbed the 2 Munro's and then stayed in the bothy before cycling back out today. Great fun and good laughs.
John McGill wrote:
Did these hills from further north via Craig as a day walk, second time. First time similar approach, but used tent for all 5 Munros.
Have stayed in Ben Dronaig bothy it's a cracker, but I walked! Land Rover definitely cheating.
P.S. Wish I could have had a Land Rover though!
Bob Gardner, 28 August 2016
Water and Hill combination.
RIB for 2 hours, wildlife and history, then Lost Valley in the afternoon, just for a jaunt. Braw day oot.
Stuart Young, Curved Ridge, 18 September 2016
Decided to get some pre-winter fitness in so quick run up Curved Ridge, not a soul about, no one up top, it was great. Now in 27 years of mountaineering I have never been up/down the main path on the Buachaille but decided to come down it today. Those of you who know it will know that it is a major highway, a very clear path. When getting near the bottom I heard this American voice shout out ' Am I on the right path to the top?'. Thinking I had misheard what she said I waited until I got nearer to her and said 'Sorry, I missed what you said'. Again: 'Am I on the right path to the top?' I asked her where she was going and she pointed up the way and said she was going to the top. I asked if she had a map... 'No', she said. She then pointed randomly upwards and said 'Am I better going to the left or to the right?' I said 'No, just stay on this path and you'll get there'.
As I left her I pondered whether I had a right to be critical of her as I went up Curved Ridge without a hat on and some would say you should have a hat on. I forgot my map and compass at home, so definitely from a H&S point bad move. I also forgot my food down in the car, so maybe I was not in a good position to pass comment.
But then I thought 'God damn no' (in an American accent). What I should have done was ask her if she were a Clinton or Trump supporter and then depending on her answer would have determined my expert guidance!
Stas Burek, Aonach Eagach, 2 October 2016
The first outing of the winter season. The weather forecast was looking good, and excitement rippled through the membership when it was mooted that the Aonach Eagach should be the target for the day, especially among those who hadn’t yet experienced the delights of the scramble along this fabulous ridge.
Sunday morning arrived with good weather – some low-lying mist which burnt off by the Bridge of Orchy (damn – no inversions!). No need to discuss our destination, no need to stop at Crianlarich to confirm, just a direct line to Glencoe.
Surprisingly easy to park, right at the foot of the route, despite the Glencoe marathon. Bob offered to act as taxi driver, didn’t even have to drive down to the Clachaig to leave a car there. Thanks Bob.
So there were twelve heading up the hill, including four ‘AE virgins’: Sue, Mary, Martin and Calum. But wait, there’s thirteen! Michael, a young lad from Belfast, came to support his friends in the marathon, but instead decided to climb a hill. Deciding that going up the AE for the first time by himself wasn’t a good idea, he tagged along with us. Was that really a better idea?!!??
So off we went. Am Bodach and the ridge laid out in front of us. The ‘bad step’ and then Meall Dearg. We all know that there’s no way down from the ridge… but here’s a couple of guys coming up from the side. ‘Oh, we came up from the Kinlochleven road, the way that the Reverand A.E. Robertson came up: you know, the first Munroist’. Ah, so there is a way down, but not from the ‘notched’ part of the ridge… and don’t say it too loud. And are you going to complete the ridge? ‘No, I’m a bit scared to tell the truth. I heard about a climber – experienced, he was – who fell and injured his back. It was misty, so the helicopter couldn’t come out and they had to wait hours for a stretcher party’. That’s us told, then!
Undaunted, we progressed to the Crazy Pinnacles. Lots of good old-fashioned scrambling with lots of exposure: no slips, trips or stumbles, just focus on the job in hand and no freezes. Oh, and superb weather – sunshine, great visibility, and just enough breeze to keep us cool. Just as we started to tire, the final pinnacle and the haul up to Stop Coire Leith and then to the second Munro, Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. Looking back, the ridge snaked away, and we knew that we upped every up and downed every down – there’s no escaping or side-stepping any part of the Aonach Eagach.
Looking ahead, Ballachulish Bridge in the distance. But there’s still the way down. We opted against the Clachaig Gully and the direct descent to Loch Achtriochtan (both marked with a skull-and-crossbones in my guide book), and went for the ‘easy’ route via the bealach to the Pap: just the best part of two hours down a continuously treacherous rocky path. Still, preferable to a skull-and-crossbones!
So, to the Clachaig for a pint and/or a bite to eat, to complete a most satisfactory start to the season. A tough and tiring day, another two in the bag for the newbies, and especially for Calum, who had only climbed three Munros before today!
If Carlsberg did club Sundays…!!!! – Stuart
Thinking about my/your day out on Sunday.
It must be about 48 to 50 years ago that I first did the ridge, I can remember to this day the excitement before we started and great satisfaction when we finished. At the time I think our small group didn't realise what we had let ourselves in for. Reading climbing articles was the only way to get any idea of our task.
It was a beautiful day very much like Sunday, but, with very high temperatures. 80 degrees in the glen and no wind through out the day. Totally parched at the end.
I'll just say the Clachaig did well that afternoon.
The reason for writing this is that it gave me great pleasure to see your faces and excitement at the end. Despite the fatigue and sore bits.
Stuart McKie, 16 October 2016
Eight out for a short day on the Luss Grahams.
Not a bad shout as it came chucking it down as we returned to the cars. Clag most of the day but a nice leg stretch finished off with a coffee in the Loch Lomond Hotel.
Whilst there a conversation took place on American politics, migration and the displacement of WW11 refugees!!!...........no, honestly it did.
Club Weekend, Inverey (Braemar), 28-30 October 2016
George Hamilton writes:
It’s been said before and it’ll be said again, Fan Bl00dy Tastic, how else could you describe a weekend away with the Cairn Ban Mountaineering club? Some weekends are remembered for being wild and riotous, others for just being plain brilliant, good weather, brilliant walking and the company of some very special people. This weekend came into the category of the latter. There was no riotous behaviour, but the hillwalking, the weather and the bunkhouse were superb, not forgetting the brilliant company.
My first weekend trip with the Cairn Ban was a camping trip just outside Braemar with Campbell, Alan Forsyth and Kenny Lowe some 25 years ago, so returning to the area always brings fond memories. We’ve also stayed at the Muir of Invereye cottage a few times before, so returning, rekindled some great memories. From Ronnie doing an Irish jig on the kitchen table or Ronnie bringing along a cylinder of Helium to the weekend and Alan Forsyth nearly passing out whilst trying to sing Scotland the brave with a mickey mouse voice. Man cannot survive on Helium alone Alan, you have to take a breath of air sometime.
As I say I’ve been to this Bunkhouse a few times before and have memories of some great weekends, and this was no different, it was just fantastic to talk and listen, enjoying a glass of wine in front of a roaring wood burner hearing all about the summer adventures, Norway, Poland, Canada to mention just a few and to hear about trips that are being planned in the future. Not forgetting that day's walking trip, whilst Tom entertained us with his ukulele playing in the background.
It’s been a long time since I managed 4 munro’s in a day, but to get 6 new munro’s and 2 new tops in a weekend is just mind blowing for me, who’d have thought that with 25 years of walking behind me, I could still find a group of 6 still to do.
I have to admit the hills are only part of a weekend, what makes it special is the company that you’re in, from Campbell having a rant as we started on Saturday morning, you no longer can say that someone took a wobbler especially if they are slightly overweight, from Laura showing the correct route over a peat bog and hearing of her worries about a forthcoming expedition, to John having a rant about us not following the correct path, we’re all different and that is what makes it special.
Saturday’s weather was great, Sunday’s weather was just sublime. The Bunkhouse was fantastic, It’s in a brilliant location, well equipped, clean and warm. When asked this morning how his weekend had gone, Campbell replied “SUPERB, QUITE SIMPLY SUPERB”, sums it up quite nicely I think.
Paul Prior, 7 November 2016
Polished off today with Carn Dearg going from Dalwhinnie. Finished just before a load of snow tonight and tomorrow. Now all I have to decide is when to do the last one (Meall nan Tarmachan)! Never thought when I started that I would go for all of them...
Stuart Young, 19 November 2016
A perfect winters day on A Bhuidheanach Bheag and Carn na Caim. Thanks to Thomas Benton for pre-winter trip training, fit as a butchers dog now!
Stuart McKie, 20 November 2016
Up and down the Ptarmigan Ridge.
What a miserable day....then we got above the clouds... Wow!!!
Beinn Mhanach, 27 November 2016
Eight out today. Overcast during the morning, but the sun came on strong in the afternoon! John announced tht he had suffered a 'loss of friction event resulting in an unscheduled and violent contact between the ground and a part of his anatomy not designed for the purpose' - he slipped and fell on his arse!
Stuart McKie, 4 December 2016
Club Sunday: Meall Glas & Beinn Cheathaich.
Five out on a windy, dry-ish day. Good day, good craic and a nice coffee in the Crianlarich Hotel. Two takes for the team selfie (it was blowing a hoolie !)
Catherine writes: More importantly, how did the coffee compare with The Rod And Reel?
Stuart McKie, 2 January 2017
Club Sunday: Ben Vorlich from Ardlui returning over the 'little hills'.
Ten out today on the first outing of 2017. Wee Glayva and a chocolate to herald the New Year then it was off upwards, and it was upwards, up the steep grassy slopes. Really was a game of two halves, starting out in glorious sunshine only to be battered up top by strong winds and hail!!
Welcome to Adrien, who joined us on his first outing with Cairn Ban. Glad we eased him in with a relatively easy day!
Returning to the Ardlui Hotel after a pretty tough day, we met Bob and Stuart who had tackled a Corbett near the Falls of Falloch. All in all a good day out which certainly got rid of a few festive pounds.
Stuart McKie, 8 January 2017. Schiehallion
With the weather forecast grim everywhere, and with crampons and axes firmly left on the shelf due to the lack of snow, we headed out to the nearest weather window and ended up at Schiehallion.
On arrival the blue sky was a sight for sore eyes. Stayed dry up and down and we were even granted the occasional short view. Great day for the banter !!!
Stuart McKie, 22 January 2017
Club Sunday four out, Davy, Laura, Stuart and Sheena. Headed up the Ptarmigan ridge Ben Lomond. Bleak day, no views, frequent snow showers,cold at the summit. Good day, good company, coffee and cake at the coffee shop Balmaha.
Club Weekend, Blackwater Hostel, Kinlochleven, 3-5 February 2017
The venue for this year’s CB Burns Supper extravaganza was the Blackwater Hostel at Kinlochleven. The weekend started early for some, with a visit to the ice wall at the Ice Factor on Friday afternoon. Over the course of the evening the troops assembled, wine was drunk and plans were made for the following day, all ‘weather dependent’ of course.
Saturday dawned, true to the weather forecast: low cloud, rain showers and a light wind – nothing unusual, just a typical Scottish winter day. The forecast was for low winds, and possibly even clearing clouds as the day continued. One group set off for Sgurr Eilde Mor, a second for Stob Coire Easain and Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin, another for the Aonachs and the Ben. Others were less ambitious and opted for Meall Mor and Sgorr a’Choise, a couple of Grahams off the main Glencoe road, or a gentle stroll up the Devil’s Staircase.
Contrary to the forecast though, the weather deteriorated as the day wore on, and one by one the various groups returned with tales to tell. The Aonachs party turned back after just one summit in deep snow and white-out conditions; one of the Sgurr Eilde Mor group succumbed to hypothermia and had to be helped back to base, and even the Grahams party were well battered by the strengthening wind. But what of the Stob Coire Easain group? There was some concern that they hadn’t returned, especially since the weather had worsened, as experienced by all of the assembled members. The afternoon turned into evening, still no word and concern started to turn into anxiety…
Finally, at 7 o’clock, a phone call: ‘We’ve just returned to the car, safe and well. We’ll be back at base in an hour’! The relief was palpable – no-one lost or hurt! They came back with a tale of a deteriorating day with blizzard white-out conditions, dangerously close to precipitous cliffs, the path down through the crags obscured by snow, and the last two hours of the return trek by moonlight. The irony was not lost: a clear moonlit evening after low cloud throughout the whole of the daylight hours!
Now the party could really begin. The dress code was ‘Gangsters and Molls’ – for a Burns Night??!!?! Most opted for the traditional Al Capone theme, but John McB went for a more modern interpretation, of a bandana- and sweatshirt-wearing AK47-toting terrorist. The food was Italian-style (for a Burns Night??!!?!), liberally washed down with more wine, beer, cider, a few drams and anything else that anyone cared to contribute. The carefully-crafted participation games, organised by the committee for the evening’s entertainment, deteriorated into anarchic chaos. John McG announced his engagement and celebrated by dancing on the tables (well, he called it dancing!!!). Most other people stayed more firmly rooted to the floor, and the dancing went on until the early hours
Sunday morning, and twenty-odd pairs of hands made light work of clearing up after the night before. Some folk wended their weary way back to Glasgow, a couple went to stretch their legs to the Lost Valley, while half of the assembled fellowship finished the weekend as it began: at the Ice Factor, for a breakfast of bacon rolls and coffee. Some even tackled the climbing walls to ease up those muscles after the previous day’s exertions.
And so ended another CB weekend. A great party, but also some stark lessons learned.
The rumour is of a Star Wars theme for next year’s Burns Supper. Watch this space!
John McGill, 19 Februray 2017
5 out on Graham Creag Gharbh today. Managed to get far enough east to avoid the clag.
John McGill, 5 March 2017
First day with proper winter conditions we've been out on. Crampons required. Cloudy on top to start with, but cleared later on. By the end of the walk George & Campbell were sunbathing. Exciting day for me, being charged by a cow, then going for a slide on grass when a foothold gave way.
John McGill, 19 March 2017
Only David & myself out today on Graham Beinn na Gainimh just north of Crieff. Despite the forecasts of doom, we had a rather nice day. Lots of mountain hares about, obviously a good country for them. Ben Chonzie isn't too far away.
Steall Hut, 24-26 March 2017
And so, twenty five years after Cairn Ban descended on (ascended to?) Steall Hut, George organised another visit. We gathered at Morrison’s car park in Fort William, last-minute provisions were procured (‘a bottle of whisky and a pint of milk, please’), bags were packed and re-packed, and carbohydrate taken on board (the fish’n’chip shop or Wetherspoons). The weather forecast was on-off all week, but finally MWIS gave an unprecedented ‘almost certain’ chance of cloud-free Munros for the weekend, so anticipation was high as we drove up Glen Nevis in the dark. At the top car park bags were packed and re-packed (again), and we set off along the gorge path (noting the ‘Danger of Death’ sign) by the light of head torches.
Not many of us had crossed the wire bridge in darkness before, and one or two had never crossed it at all, so this was a new experience for several of the assembled company. It was a calm evening though, mild for the time of year, and everyone made it across with a few wibble-wobbles, but no mishaps.
Saturday morning dawned, and although Steall Hut is permanently in shadow, we could see that there were indeed no clouds in the sky. Alex and Stuart had already left for Tower Ridge, Paul V. set out for Cairn Mor Dearg via Coire Guibhsachan, Campbell and George opted for the Ring of Steall widdershins, and the rest headed across the foot of Steall Falls to do the Ring of Steall the ‘right’ way round.
The sun was bright, but the air was still chilly in the shadow of the mountains and there was plenty of deep snow especially in the gullies. We finally hit the ridge between An Gearanach and An Garbhanach, where the snow was two feet deep and more: Davy Gray broke the trail and we happily followed in his footsteps (literally). The air was clear and the views were simply stunning, but having to stay focussed on the trail didn’t allow for much gazing around, so we stopped frequently for short picnics and opportunities to look around. Finally, John McG and Iain left us to it and set off at a pace to get round the Ring. The rest of us (Davy, Diane, John McB, Catherine and me) were simply enjoying being out, pottered on to Stob Coire a’ Chairn, turned round, down to the bealach and back up to the ridge, to head back to base.
Back at Steall Hut, I announced my 60th birthday and cracked open the whisky. I hadn’t said anything about this beforehand, and I was met with enthusiastic, if polite, felicitations. The other groups came in and showed the same reactions. I only twigged that something was up when I was ushered out to watch the sunset (in the eastern sky!) and found Campbell (our Presidente), 25 years after celebrating his 30th birthday at Steall, waiting to present me with a birthday card signed by the assembled company!
Back inside, the Hut was decorated with bunting, more whisky came out, wine was poured (all over the table, in McGill’s case, when he tried to fill his glass and missed completely!), and a birthday cake appeared at some stage of the evening, complete with a (single) Roman candle. Campbell quite improbably produced a bottle of Advocaat, which was surely a first for a CB event!
Alex and Stuart finally returned after a 17-hour outing to the Ben. On their heroic climb up Tower Ridge, Stuart’s constant refrain was ‘Paul wouldn’t like this…!’ Well, Stuart, judging by the colour of your trousers, we’re not sure that you liked it that much either! But you’re back to tell the tale, and so the fellowship was reunited.
Gradually the banter descended into drivel, the drivel into incoherent grunts, and the singing into inharmonious moans. One by one the company drifted off to their sleeping bags, to wake up to a Sunday morning much the same as the day before. Only Davy Gray had any energy to venture into the hills; the rest of us took to our cars and headed home, some via a breakfast stop at the café in Ballachulish. We marvelled at the unbelievable weather and the snow-covered mountains in the bright sunshine, and as we passed the queues of traffic coming out of Glasgow to spend the afternoon squashed into car parks on the banks of Loch Lomond, Catherine turned to me and said:
‘What a glorious day!’
I had run out of superlatives, and simply answered:
John McGill wrote: A superb Steall Hut weekend. Ring of Steall in fine fettle. Stas's birthday celebrations finished off a great day.
Paul Valente: Thanks to George [and Campbell] for organising a terrific weekend at Steall Hut and to one and all for the great craic. Special mention to the brave Alex and Stuart for completing Tower Ridge.
Iain Kent added: Stunning day on Ring of Steall including a couple of nights in the 5 star Steall Hut with the Cairn Ban cronies.
Stuart Young: Stunning day Saturday on Tower Ridge and great location at Steall Hut, thanks to all for making it a great weekend.
Catherine Bloomfield, 16 April 2017
Sgiath a Chaise, a hillock with stunning views, deep heather and a summit nobody could find! Just as well the banter was up to scratch
Easter weekend in the Cairngorms.
Don't be fooled by the blue sky and smiles. We got battered both days by rain, hail and snow.
From Linn of Dee to the Hutchison Memorial hut, where we sheltered from the snow for 30 mins. Onward to the top of Beinn Mheadhoin (wild) then back to Loch Etchachan (wilder) then up and over Derry Cairngorm. Ben Macdui would wait for another day !
Yesterday we cycled along Glen Ey and climbed Carn Bhac again in difficult conditions. This time with frying pan in tow, we managed two bacon rolls and rolled our eggs on the summit. Quick retreat time !
Actually it was a brilliant weekend !!!