The Final Stage – It’s all over!!

Posted in Day to Day on July 18, 2009 by mtunney

Happy to confirm that Stage 3 (and the last) is now over!! A fabulous trip over The Grey Corries, Aonachs Mor and Beag, finishing on Carn Mhor Dearg, the arete and Ben Nevis. I was fortunate to have been joined by Walk Highlands very own, John Burgess. A Mountain Goat if there ever was one!!

The trip started on Thursday with a wee change of plans. Instead of the early train journey from Perth to Corrour, via Glasgow, John drove to Coirrechoille, just outside Spean Bridge (great base!!) We headed into the Lairig Leacach and onto the bothy for the night. My hip was causing a bit of concern on this fairly short path, but fortunately, after lots of stretching, held up fairly well over the next 2 days. Homemade chilli and a wee decanted Chardonnay went down very well!!

The next morning, fabulous weather and we reached Stob Ban in record time!! Good idea….head for the bealach, ditch the packs and summit from there. Tricky on the scree,. but no real problems.

Summit of Stob Ban - First of the Grey Corries

Headed back down to the bealach, still in awe with the terrain and what was coming next

After Stob Ban - The first of many!!

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The Grey Corries is a fabulous range which can be altered a wee bit from the www.walkhighlands.co.uk route, descending from Sron an Lochain instead and camping beside a smashing lochan 741247. Both of us agreed that this is excellent spot for us to come back and explore from. Anyway, the rest of the range passed with jaw-dropping views.

John on Stob Choire Claurigh

A close-up of the man himself!!

Now I know why they're called 'Grey'!!

The only tricky section of The Corries produced a ‘Deja Vous’ experience that’s never happened before. John had sprinted off down Stob Coire Easain and onto Stob Coire an Laoigh…… me, I treaded very carefully!! And didn’t take any photos!!!

On the Saturday, the ‘Mountain Goat’ was reined in a wee bit!!!

Anyway…. on part of the ascent of Sgurr Choinnich Mor, near the summit, the path erodes a bit. Quote… “I don’t fancy that! John ‘ Alan Wells’ Burgess was nowhere to be seen!!! The left side of my view….a steep slope with rocks…seen that before!! So I decided to nip up a bit higher then bum-slide back to the track. Unfortunately, the heavier pack and a 3 foot manoeuvre looking down towards 800 feet slope with rocks was just enough to warrant ‘jelly legs’ and a rapid reverse!! I headed up via the middle of the ridge, surprisingly!!!

We reached the summit and looked over at the Aonachs, both us coming to the same conclusion…..Let’s get these two out of the way before tomorrow. Andy Ross of http://www.mwis.org.ukwas meeting us at the bealach below Sgor Choinnich Beag for a camp. So at least we’d get an update on the weather!!!

Unfortunatelty Andy had a breakdown……well his car did!!! So we never managed to meet up.. John and I carried on the summits of Aonach Beag and Aonach Mhor. A fantastic decision, in terms of the time that we made up the next day, but even better the sunset and looking at the CMD arete and Tower Ridge!!

Not happy section to the Aonachs

I just wasn’t happy with this ascent….the more I looked at it, the less happy I felt. Andy had mentioned on the phone of another way up from the bealach. Obviously Andy was’nt there, but we figured a good route!!

That's not steep!!

The gully was steep but, for me, it was more attractive than the usual route. The gully steepened the higher we got and I did struggle a bit. I moved over to the right away from the grass and onto a bit more rockier ground. Yet again, the pack was proving a problem and I was concerned that my zigzaging would cause me to slip. John came back down and helped me with my route. He offered to take the pack, but taking it off would’ve been impossible. The midges were aggressive and it was very hot outwith the breeze, but I made it and felt relieved on the top. I could see a bit of the CMD arete, but it was the views over The Mamores and back down the Grey Corries that were incredible.

The Mamores

The Grey Corries from Aonach Beag

More Mamores

We’d decided to camp at the bealach between Aonach Mor and Carn Mor Dearg but first had to get there. There is a small stone marker where the best (only) descent should be made, however it’s very steep and loose!! There were no photos taken here, complete concentration was the only thing that I was concerned in!! Once onl the bealach, we made camp and got the food going….Wayfayrers Beef Stew and Dumpling for me….very tasty. I was soon asleep and slept well until I was woken up at 0645 by some amorous deer!!

We’d received an update on the weather, the poor conditions wouldn’t be arriving till very late in the day. We took our time heading off as we had planned to meet Oban MRT on Carn Mor Dearg at mid-day.

Ben Nevis and the route up to the summit of Carn Mor Dearg

Again, the heavier pack was a factor in the time I took to get through the boulders. Lots of hand-work and steeps either side of the ridge. But I managed it OK, with John’s help and enjoyed getting to the summit. I’d been here before, but still in awe at the views of the CMD arete and Tower Ridge.

The awesome Carm Mor Dearg arete

Summit of Carn Mhor Dearg

Ben Nevis

There had been no contact from the Oban guys all morning and we gave them till 1230, then we had no option but to set off. I knew that from here to the finish would be slow and I wanted to finish as close to 5pm as possible. I’d done the arete before, but the stiffness and lack of flexibility in the hip was proving to be a problem. We slowly made the turn and the initial section was fairly straightforward, even managed some photos

Looking fresh!!

Looking fresh!!

Looking not so fresh!!

Looking not so fresh!!

Looking south from the CMD arete

After slowly picking our way across the arete, we reached the final part and a choice. The exposed upper section or a faint path lower down on the south side. John felt the latter would be better for me as the heavier pack was causing me to be more wary of my balance. I was causing a bit of hold-up in traffic here as there was no room to pass, but everyone was helpful and understanding. The scariest part of the whole track loomed in front of me. Two hand-holds and two foot-holds about 4 feet apart above a very steep and rocky drop!!

 

I uttered the words….”I can’t do this John”!!! It was one of life’s defining moments and one that, for me, proved that I had mentally recovered, but that after I had crossed, one situation that I won’t be finding myself in again. At that moment, I knew that my limitations were now reached. A bit more on all fours!!! then up the boulder field to the summit!! Hurrah!!!

Me and John on Nevis - Finished at last!!

The 3 stages were a tremendous experience. I had been disappointed that I had to cancel the route over 9 days, but I’m extremely glad that I did. I would’ve definitely struggled and the effects would’ve been long-term. I can’t contemplate the arete after 9 constant days!!

After a couple of ‘summit photos’, we headed down the horrendous ‘Pony Track’. My leg muscles had been fine all the way, but it was this track that caused the painful quads!! Bah!!  About 10 minutes from the pub, we met 2 members of Oban MRT!! They had been ringing the O2 phone (no Reception)  instead of the Vodaphone and most of them had past us on the way, which is a bit disconcerting!! but as Ian, the Deputy Team Leader pointed out, they found me in the end!!!!

Reasons to be Cheerful!!!

Reasons to be Cheerful!!!

Mike finish Challenge 4000ers 015

Veronica and Chris...2 months ago he was smaller than me!!!

Veronica and Chris...2 months ago he was smaller than me!!!

Dougie "Check-in" Whiteford..get a call from him then it's serious!!!

Dougie "Check-in" Whiteford..get a call from him then it's serious!!!

So it’s all over……not quite!! Raffle and gig still to come….watch this space.

Much thanks to all that helped and took part, also to those who have donated so far……..the list seems endless, but to new friends, old friends and to all those who have touched my life in the last 2 and 1/2 years, thank you and Slainte Mhath!!!

Stage 1 Completed!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 27, 2009 by mtunney

Well, that’s Stage 1out of the way, probably the hardest of the 3.  Four of us headed up Cairn Gorm on Friday, myself, John, Rory and David. All of us met through the www.walkhighlands.co.uk website and what a wealth of experience the guys offered.

We left the Ski Centre at 1330 hours having left Rory’s camperat the Sugar Bowl car park (good decision!!) and headed up Cairn Gorm. Not the most scenic of mountains,what with the chair lifts and the Ptarmigan restaurant halfway up?? The weather conditions were favourable, a bit breezy but with good visibility. All that changed in a moment!! We had not long passed the restaurant when a horizontal hailstorm hit us and we were engulfed in poor visibilty and very poor conditions. Waterproofs and raincovers were on very quickly and we trudged up to the summit, passing disgruntled folk who had called it a day. Sheltering behind the weather station on the summit, we got ourselves together then headed off, skirting the edges of the Northern Corries. Not that we could see anything!!!

Even though the hood of my Rab Momentum was up and secured, the hailstones were still stinging my ears, we reckoned the gusts were hitting 40mph and the windchill was hitting minus 8. Heading over the plateau towards Ben MacDui, the weather cleared and the views to the west of the Lairig Ghru opened up. After reaching the summit, we descended into the Lairig Ghru via the Tailor’s Burn. A bit tricky especially as it had started raining and the wind had picked up.

Start of a scary descent from Ben MacDui

Once in the Ghru, we headed to Corrour Bothy and found a welcome bonus….there were only 2 people inside!! So we had a warm comfortable night.

The next morning, the weather was clearing and we were in for an excellent day.

Me and John with Ben MacDui behind us

We polished off the Devil’s Point, Cairn Toul and the Angels Peak fairly sharpish, but the long plateau of Braeriach lay in wait!!

On the summit of ANgel's Peak and the plateau behind us

On the summit of Angel's Peak and the plateau behind us

Next up…..the summit of Braeriach and the last of the 4,000 feet peaks of the Cairngorms!! Only the 4 on Stage 3 left!!

The views from the summit were incredible. It’s the first time I’ve been here and had clear skies.

Lairig Ghru form Braeriach

Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine2

There was still a good 3 hours ahead until we reached the end of Stage 1. The delights of the Chalamain Gap still to come. Rory mentioned ‘leg-breaker’ which was a bit disconcerting!  I’ve always tried to avoid it, but not today.

Oh no I'm next!!

Oh no I'm next!!

Emerging from the Chalamain Gap2

Because my right arm doesn’y fully straighten, this was tricky and I wouldn’t fancy it in the wet. Still, made it!!

So, the end of Stage 1 and three good friends made. The hip stood up very well, no tweaks and looking forward to Stage 2 on the 30th!!

More photos and reports on http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1230

Inverness

Posted in Uncategorized on June 17, 2009 by mtunney

At the risk of spreading the news……Inverness is the best town in the whole of Scotland!!!! Have just spent a long weekend working at Rock Ness and staying at the Thistle Hotel (recommended). Very friendly town and easy access to Torridon et al. But great for a base…. Good food and music in abundance. Although 2 very surreal moments happened to me….First, all the team were in a pub called Johnny Foxes www.johnnyfoxes.co.uk when right in front of all of them…up stepped a young ladywith a bright red dress and lipstick to match… amazing how your face can quickly match your surroundings!!! “Have you gone back to hill-walking after your fall” was the first thing she said!!! Unusual approach I thought…..although it transpired she was the younger sister of Mark and Lawrence Malley from Dumbarton, who I went to school with, some 10 years ago!!

Next up, walking through the town on the Saturday telling Craig about a guy I hadn’t seen since school who moved to Inverness. He was in a band called Schiehallion and his son was my eldest son’s best pal. Not 100 yards further, there was a chalk board outside Gellions Pub  ‘Schiehallion 5pm till 8pm’  Tried to recruit Kenny to the gig at The Griffen….he was keen but they have a wedding reception that night…… great band though   http://spanglefish.com/Schiehallion    

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYW5bnI9PlE&feature=channel_page

Will definitely be back…

Getting Closer!!

Posted in Day to Day on June 17, 2009 by mtunney
Braeriach from Rothiemurchus Forest

Braeriach from Rothiemurchus Forest

Nearly there!! Had a gruelling hike up Gleann Eanaich from Aviemore Centre, perfect weather. Apparently you can acess the plateau from Coire Dhondail so I’d thought have a look for future reference. And you can!!

A long day but the hip felt great. Good pace, using shorter steps which help. Can’t see past the pacerpoles either. www.pacerpole.com you should have a look!! Only downside of the day…. BLISTER!! I’ve never had one so was a bit peeved. Was trying out a pair of lightweight socks from www.1000mile.co.uk with the lining. Their other socks, without the lining are excellent. Really not happy and in the end, I had to go to a Chiropodist, but was out of action for 2 weeks!! Used the bike a lot though…

Loch Eanaich

Loch Eanaich

Back to Aviemore

Back to Aviemore

Definetely 3 weeks to go!!

Posted in Day to Day on May 31, 2009 by mtunney

The new start date’s the 19th of June and countdown has started. A traverse of the Cairngorm plateau with an overnight at Corrour bothy, hopefully inside but will have the tent just in case!!

Tried out a new pair of socks by www.1000mile.co.uk  and got a bloody blister!! Never had one in my life and it’s kept me off the hills the past 2 weeks. Still, been using the bike to make up for it. Did a 30 mile route to Crieff and biked up to Dunkeld. So it wasn’t all bad!!

Heading out to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin on Monday, hoping the great weather holds. Going to try out the Buffs!! Need to get some publicity shots, don’t ask!!  www.buffwear.com if you haven’t heard of them.

Holly

Posted in Day to Day on May 28, 2009 by mtunney

Very sad as I had to get my dog, Holly put to sleep the other day. She was 15 years old, which is about 105 in human years, so she had a good innings. She’d been with me on many days out, been on top of many a summit, even camped and spent the night in a bothy!! But she went downhill very quickly having developed a tumour.

Holly taking a rest!!

Hot Dog!!

Snow Dog

Summit of the Brack March08

She was a great help when I was trying to get mobile, although for a time, I was too slow for her!! Ben Reoch, near Arrochar, was my first summit after the fall, January08, and she came with me…considering it was hers too, she bolted about the hill, thinking she was a pup again!! Sadly missed by everyone who knew her…

Another summit!!

Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

Posted in Day to Day on May 5, 2009 by mtunney

the-approach-cairn-lochan2

An excellent day out taken from the Walk Highlands website. From the Ski Centre, up the side of Cairn Lochan onto Ben MacDui and finish via Cairn Gorm. Fantastic and in superb conditions!! Met loads of folk….a resident Glaswegian Italian on skis, a bloke from Clydebank and a guy who was Karen Darke’s telephone engineer!! Surreal moment when the RAF helicopter buzzed me, the saw the RAF MRT in the bar afterwards!!

the-lairig-ghru-devils-point-and-cairn-toul

Great to have a cloud-free day but not surprisingly, the MWIS wind forecast was a tad accurate!! Jeez…..balaclavas on at 800m!!

sgor-an-lochain-uaine-and-braeriach

Tell you what….the view above doesn’t get better than that!!

summit-at-last

Photo taken by Mr Ermanno Rambelli, as much as I love Paramo gear, the chest pocket doesn’t do your profile well!! Honest…there’s a map,water bottle and food in there!! Oh and a sleeping mat!!

Velez smock and stretch pants by Paramo. Chest pouch by OMM, Zamberlan Viox boots oh and Paramo stretch hat in hand….fab bit of kit. Not to forget, hair by Carol of ‘Mals Dumbarton’!! 

end-of-the-day1