My plans for Monday were made somewhat simpler by the fact that I could not find anyone insane enough to attempt A’Chailleach with me. It was a relatively small team that made a beeline for the Monadhliath Graham of Creag Liath, consisting of myself, Steve, John, Mike and Emily.
The route was the brainchild of Steve, and one has to remark that it was a rather good choice, although it did mean that my duel with A’Chailleach would have to wait another day.
We left ‘The Lodge’ at about 08:30. Various cumulative factors defined our low expectations on departure. Although the wind had dropped from the Sunday, it was still of considerable strength, certainly in excess of 30mph at height. I addition a considerable amount of snow had fallen – probably in the region of about 2 foot in 48 hours. This accumulation of powder snow we found very hard to walk through.
We made better progress initially as the conditions were far superior to the previous day, and just got better as the day continued, until the very end of it. We were up at the car park in about half an hour today, where we paused to take photographs of the ‘snow family’ that we would walk past all week, and which would only disappear on the Thursday evening.
We followed the track along the River Calder until we came to Glenbanchor and the disused farm. We turned right here before the bridge heading up the fields towards Glen Fionndrigh. At this point until the very end of the day we were walking almost virgin snow. Only one set of prints were ahead of ours, but these were inadequate and we had to break trail for the whole route.
The weather was very unpredictable, at times we were in a blizzard, and at others we were walking in perfect sunshine. It was in Glen Fionndrigh were Nev and Anne left us, having accompanied us that far, though as far as I know they hadn’t intended to climb with us that day.
As soon as we reached the footbridge and the bealach I knew that we would attain our target that day, I don’t back down when I’m that close unless I have to, and I didn’t feel at this point that anything other than myself could cost me this summit.
At the bealach we dug some seats in the snow and ate lunch before proceeding up onto the North ridge of Creag Liath. We walked along this ridge for maybe half an hour before climbing up to the summit at 743m. From here we proceeded to the South West summit at 732m before heading due South to Glen Banchor.
From the South summit we descended as quickly as we could to Glen Banchor. We were more than aware that there was a big snow cloud closing in on us pretty quickly, and we raced down waist deep snow.
When we reached the base of the mountain there was some dispute as to which way we should proceed – should we head to the River Calder, or to the forest on Allt Fionndrigh. Somewhat nonchalant about the debate Emily and I headed for the forest in a somewhat undemocratic approach to route selection. We were some way ahead of the others, and for a large period of time no one followed us over the last rise, and we became quite concerned. It turned out that Steve had found a river under the snow and was changing his trousers.
We enjoyed lunch at the farmhouse at Glenbanchor before heading back to the hotel, one of the few teams to have successfully climbed anything that day.