Friday 19 October 2007

99 not out.

Well, OK. Day off duly arranged at short notice, & even though last night was a wee bit hectic - home from work, dugs down the park, tag team replacement with Marion, over to my mum's to check out the summer house woodpile - I was fairly organised because I had the maps printed, and of course you just follow the path & then clamber up the scree on the Buachaille anyway.

Don't you?

I couldn't get up at 5, so it was 6 when I started. The absolutely unavoidable hour & a half preparation time duly followed. It doesn't matter where I'm going walking, or how early I get up, it's always at least an hour & a half before I get out the door.


About 2.5 hours to the layby at Altnafeadh. Just me & the post van in it. You could tell it wasn't a weekend at the Bookle carpark. Incidentally, while I remember, those Stirling services are the biggest ripoff merchants in Scotland. Not that I bought it, but £1.99 for a litre of water? Fuck me. And the petrol's more than £1 a litre anyway. Hmmm - half the price of water, I suppose.

Anyway, back to the layby. Cloudy-ish. Drizzly-ish. Pulled the boots on & the tongue in the right one came away in my hand. Bugger. That shouldn't really be happening, even after a couple of years. Raichle's fit me, but their longevity is leaving something to be desired. Oh well - that's made the decision. It's the HiTec dugwalking shoes.

I still reckon I'm reading McNeish's book correctly. Follow the path - zig zags through the scree - careful on last 100 metres. Well, that's what I thought I was doing. A guy in front of me went the same way, basically heading for the notch, or low point on the ridge. I got stuck. It wasn't exposed. It wasn't climbing. You wouldn't have died if you'd fallen off, unless you'd landed badly & hit your heid, but I was enormously uncomfortable.

I decided to sit down & calm down, and decide whether to go down. There were two groups of 2 folk further down the Corrie. The first pair made a very definite right turn lower down & then reappeared probably about 50' above me & 20' to the right of me. I just couldn't see if there was a way across from where I was amongst the loose, wet, greasy scree-ridden tussocky sharp slopy rock. The second pair also seemed to turn right & disappeared from view. As it turned out, they were away up the proper path. I saw another guy maybe 300' below me who was sitting on a rock looking almost as disconsolate as I was. I should say that I had footered about having a cup of tea, on the off chance that the other climbers would think I was sitting there for 20 minutes through choice. It also turned out that Nick & Calum - for it was they - had seen me slithering about & sliding down the scree on my erse whan they were above me.

I digress.

Fortified with tea, I decided to traverse a wee bit, to work out if I'd missed an obvious path. Apart from stumbling & sliding a bit, that wasn't too bad. Not as panicky as I'd been earlier, certainly. I could still see the guy below me. I decided to wait a wee bit longer, to see if he moved. I'm not trying to kid anyone on when I say that part of the reason I'd stayed at the first "bivvy" so long was that I didn't want folk coming up to see me there & think I had gone the right way!

So, I'm sitting. So is the guy below me. Then I hear what I thought was an approaching military jet. But slower. It was sort of building up, & then it started to be accompanied by that unmistakable sliding scree noise, & then there's an almighty shout of "BELOW!!!" so at least you know what to expect. But it was still that noise, & nothing had arrived. I was sitting behind a wee rocky outcrop that came to my shoulder level, so I was fairly well protected, but it's still an odd feeling, wondering if a car-sized rock (because that was my confident prediction) is going to appear 15' away from you, at head height. In the event, it was about head sized, & a couple of car lengths to my right, so no harm done.

That nearly put the tin lid on the day. Lady Luck was not smiling on me. But them the chap from down below appeared just over on the right. He was striding upwards with considerably more vim & vigour than he'd been displaying earlier on. So...there must be a path...and it must be close...oh bollocks, this isn't it it's just more loose scree! But - if I clamber on to that nose of rock. It's a bit scrambly, but there's plenty to hold on to...and in fact there's the makings of a path...and indeed there is a path...and indeed - I was only 10 minutes from the bealach. Bizarre.

Wander from there & about 15 minutes - if that, actually - on a good bouldery path you're at the top. The dug would probably need to be on a lead from about 5 minutes away. Misty from then on. Met Calum & Nick at the top. Nice guys. I think they understood I'd been having an off day. They were the "BELOW!!!" guys. Got them back down to the bealach in case I missed my turning. The path down is pretty clear from just beyond the "notch". A wee bit of handwork & sitting doon required on descent, but it was fine, really. I still don't know how I missed the path on the way up, because all of a sudden I was past the point where I'd gone wrong, & I hadn't noticed when! I must have been fixated on heading for the scree on the ascent.

Still, at least I know for next time, & there's a reason to go back 'cos there's another Munro at t'other end. It'd have been about 4.5 hours for Stob Dearg, if I hadn't got lost.

Home by half-five. Dugs walked. Beer bought. Power cut experienced. Blog updated.


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