Yesterday was a day to measure all other mountain days in terms of
weather! We stayed overnight in Tulloch Station then the plan was to get up
early and do Beinn Chlachair, Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh. All started well
and we cycled in. It was great to revisit the Lochan Na Earba again. It’s such
a pretty corner with the peaceful loch split in two by long term pile up of
erosion and the sandy beach. There had been huge amounts of rain so the run out
from the loch must have been two to three metres deep.
We dumped the bikes then started to climb feeling optimistic as
the claggy cloud had lifted slightly. After a while we started walking on rice
crispies – grass with icy snow, then it was icy snow with a bit of grass, then
just snow, then fresh knee-high drifts and a couple of thigh high drifts. The
mist had returned. Andrew remarked how dark it seemed. Looking up we could see
rocks sticking out but looking down there was nothing as all the rocks were covered
in snow and there was nothing to distinguish cloud from solid ground.
We reached a wee nose of rock which signalled the start of the
corrie down to our right. The wind had picked up and the precipitation grew
fierce. We were walking more or less blind except for Andrew’s gadgets. Luckily
the blast pushed us towards the rather elusive summit. It was clear that following
the route back towards the col was a bad idea, not simply because we wanted to
bag at least this Munro but also that we would not have been able to walk back against
what was now a blizzard. Eventually we found the cairn where there was just
enough shelter to take a compass reading. North east took us straight down and
off the mountain. Minutes later we were clambering down over snowy rocks on a
steep but fairly sheltered slope. After the blizzard above even the prospect of
having to cross the bog below was not unattractive.
Back on the bikes and away from the lee-side we were chased down
the hill by the gale. The lochan had become a raging sea and it was a battle to
stay upright. I looked ahead to see Andrew on the bridge just inches from the
edge and desperately leaning into the wind. I just managed to see him safely on
the other side when the wind picked me up and threw me off down the embankment.
I tumbled down in what felt like slow motion and saw the bike coming down on
top of me. I
get up for a moment while I reoriented myself but there
were no injuries. Struggled to push the bike over the bridge and the rest of
the downhill cycle was just great fun in the rain, even with freezing fingers.