Alex Mac Hut, Onich (Nov 2021)

Fri 12 – Sun 14 November 2021

Under the bright gaze of 1000-watt strip lights on a Friday evening, the assembled DMC troops squinted and assessed the Alex Mac hut’s newly-refurbished living room. Clearly such an illuminatory faux-pas required some remedy! Headtorches were pressed into action and in the newly-established soft lighting, over a dram or two, plans for saturday were hatched.

It was soon established that approximately 2/3 of the assembled party had designs on the Ballachulish Horseshoe – a round of Beinn a’ Bheithir taking in 2 munros – by various routes. A brave party of David, Andy1 and new boy Nick agreed to make a stirring ascent of Schoolhouse Ridge followed by an daring descent of the Dragon’s Tooth; another party of Pete, Paulina and Andy2 decided to cut to the chase and take a direct ascent to the bealach between the two peaks. Bernice and Andy3 went off to bag a Corbett, and Iain disappeared to cover 30 miles somewhere else.

The day started fair, although the promised clag never entirely lifted. However, it made for welcome summit cloud inversions, with rare brocken spectre and views to the Ben and Bidean poking out. Both “horseshoe parties” met close to the Bealach, and everything appeared to be proceeding to plan. However, after a slight navigational mishap looking for the start of the Tooth, it soon became apparent for the “tooth trio” that there was a reason why what is mainly a winter ascent is rarely an autumn descent. The rocks were greasy, and care was certainly needed in downclimbing. The party eased down to a gap in the ridge before the tooth proper, baulked at the exposed diff climb (described in ascent as an abseil), and made a cheeky traverse round. However the excitement soon turned to slight despair as further along it became clear the only escape way was a fairly direct down –this taking the form of 500 vertical metres of 50 degree inclined bog, heather, wet grass and more bog. Cue about an hour of slithering, sliding, down stepping and generally undignified exit across the felled forest to the track.

Back to the hut, and excellent pies and mash were washed down with finest wines.

  • Report by Nick G