Tuesday, as laid out in ‘the plan’ was to be the day of deliverance. The plan was to head over the tracks laid yesterday turning right at the bealach in Glenn Fionndrigh, and heading over to Carn Dearg. From here we were to follow the ridge over Carn Ban, Carn Ballach, and topping out the day on my nemesis, A’ Chailleach.
We fired straight up the tracks we had laid the day previous to the col. I was breaking trail, and we arrived at the col by 10:30. We had been able to drive up to the car park, and the going was a little easier with the tracks laid the day previous. We headed right at the bealach, over a couple of bumps and streams, until we arrived at the foot of Carn Dearg.
By the time we arrived here the sky was bright blue, and there was no wind, which meant that the day without question lived up to the forecast that it would be the best of the week. The group took a selection of routes onto Carn Dearg. Mike and Sara headed up the ridge from the bealach between Carn Macoul and Carn Dearg. Apparently this was filled with a considerable amount of avalanche debris. The remainder of the group ascended the snow slopes to the South East summit. Myself, Andy, Jan and Nev were looking to ‘play’ a little with our axes and went straight up the snow field buried behind the nose. It was a very steep climb, but I wouldn’t say that it was prohibitively difficult at any point. We were the last to arrive on the ridge, having time only to take a few pictures before heading over to the South East summit.
This point of the day was like being in heaven, wandering around on a white ridge with blue sky everywhere. The view extended considerably in all directions.
We followed the ridge over the South East summit, 923m, to the true summit of Carn Dearg at 945m, and proceeded on to the 942m summit of Carn Ban. We followed the fence posts from here over the 920m top of Carn Ballach, to the 906m top of Meall na Creughaich and then the 911m summit of Meall a’ Bhothain.
At this point it became apparent that a group were heading off to get in Carn Sgulain, and I intended to follow suit. I ran out of gas on the 908m unnamed summit approximately 1km to the West of it, and decided to scrap the idea and just take in A’ Chailleach.
Somewhere in the descent to Coire Dubh I really ran into a bit of a wall and decided that I wasn’t strong enough to go up A’ Chailleach, and it beat me again. I had completed the whole of this walk to this point on one Snickers bar – not bad for 40p! A couple of bars later I felt fine again, but it was too late by now to ascend up to A’ Chailleach.
The descent through Coire Dubh was not very pleasant. The snow was largely about two foot deep, but was hollow at the base. Each step broke straight through to the bottom, and the icy base of the snow layer was tearing away at the shins when you stepped up. This caused some trepidation later in the week when I came back for A’ Chailleach. It was almost dark by the time we arrived at the stalker’s hut, and we descended Glen Chaorainn in the dark. I was quite pleased to have the old Petzl in my ‘sac.
Fortunately we were able to advise the others at the hotel in advance of our forthcoming lateness, and we did not sit down for tea until 19:30, after taking in a quick shower. It was with some disappointment that a walk of this distance – 24km, had heralded only one Munro. I am currently consoling myself with the fact that it did include another 3 Tops, of which Carn Ban and Carn Ballach were Munros until 1980. I was also disappointed to have broken a trekking pole rather early in the day.