I had a great sleep at Inchree and was up early it was a grey day on the West at Onich and the Mamores had cloud down to about 2000 feet. The birds were singing though and a few walkers were getting ready for a day in the mountains as I left for Fort William. I did feel a bit jealous as they spoke of great days and being tired after 4 long days in the hills. I met Sue an old friend in Fort William and we had a great leisurely breakfast at Brewers Fayre for £7.50 eat as much as you want a great deal, well recommended and my appetite was back. It was a bit later than I had planned but was heading for Roy bridge to see an old friend/ combatant and Mountain Guide Mick Tighe. He lives up Glen Roy a remote and incredible place and I love the drive up that peaceful single track. Mick is the man behind the Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection, he is an ex marine, now retired member of Lochaber MRT and a real wild character who I have met for known for many years.
He is still a controversial man at times and we shared some hard days in the past with varying differing views. Mick is some man in Mountains and Mountain Rescue being the man who was lowered down the Ben’s massive ice and rockfaces on many rescues. I was the Chairman Of Scottish Mountain Rescue at the time Mick was the Training and Equipment Officer these were interesting times as to Mick , life is black and white and i would spend some time arguing my case with him. He was just back from skiing in the Kintail Munros with his lovely wife Cathy and was full of the joys of winter mountaineering and showed me photos of a superb day. We had a brew and then he had to go and visit his Mum in the village I left him a donation of two axes and he showed me some recent pieces of kit that will be shown at the Fort William Mountain Festival next week, well worth a visit.
It was bit late and the weather was still grey but I stopped a bit further down the road at the big National Heritage Car Park at Creag Meagaidh. There were a few cars and I wanted a short walk and some views. it was great to put on the boots again and sort out the gear and have a slow walk up through the birch trees and the wonderful new path. There was still plenty of snow but little view the cloud was grey and down to 2000 feet. I only walked for about an hour and a half the snow was down and the path well rutted with steps and ski tracks. In the past I have climbed on the huge Post faces an Alpine place with a huge history in ice climbing. I used to stay in my early days in the little bothy at the now Heritage Centre and this place has many memories. The three Munros are a great day in winter Carn Liath, Stob Poite Coire Point Ardair and Creag Meagaidh are big mountains. The navigation on the Creag Meagaidh plateau is wild with huge Cornices in winter waiting in the Grey room for any mistakes. I have also done a few big rescues in the past and this is some mountain, with the cliffs depended by a long walk in making any day a big undertaking.
There were little views today but as I broke through the trees and the shelter it was into the open Corrie Ardair and its wild hummocks and space. The path was icy now and there was to be no views so I headed down slowly. I did stop have a drink and enjoy the wildness, it was so good to be out only for an hour and a half from the car but in this incredible place. It was a cold wind and a wee bit snow fell and I was soon getting cold and off I went. The only person I met was Sandy Allen another mountain Legend and Guide just heading down with the Avalanche report for the day. We had a quick chat and Sandy was soon off moving fast as always at one in his mountains. The mountains are a small place at times. This is from my blog on 28 July 2012 – Summer 2012: Sandy Allan, Rick Allen and Cathy O’Dowd attempted the 1st ascent of Nanga Parbat via the Mazeno Ridge. The longest ridge on any 8000m peak, considered “the ultimate endurance challenge.” One of the most coveted goals left in the Himalaya.
On the 15th of July at 18:12h Rick and Sandy reached the summit! On the 19th of July they arrived safely back at Base Camp. Everyone safe and well! It was an incredible attempt on a huge mountain by a small team. In these days of celebrity figures, overpriced superstars in football and other sports it is incredible that this has barely made any impact in the news
The skies darkened and I was soon back at the car seeing lots of landmarks that I remember from past days on this fabulous mountain. The trees the wall and the old farmhouse meant at times you were safe after a wild day. It was great to be back at the car and then the lovely drive down Lagganside worth the trip on its own.
The darkened skies looked like more snow was coming and the trees and the hills brightened to the East. I stopped in Aviemore to see more friends Ray and Myrtle Sefton for a brew and a chat they had been up at Tongue in the far North and had more great photos.
It was getting late so I was tired and headed home, the Dava Moor was looking wild and my phone rang and I pulled in by the Jesus Stone lay by and skidded on some ice and ended up in a frozen drift. The car even with snow tyres I was stuck and I got my shovel out but no joy a car stopped and two lovely lassies gave me a help but could not move it. I was ready to call the AA but the girls stopped a lorry and a tow and I was out. What great people and the girls got a bunch of flowers and the lorry a small donation. I was annoyed but I was tired, great people no names sorry but thanks.
I got home in the end a meal a bath and feeling better the mountains and the people are great medicine.
Greag Meagaidh – “Meggy”
A new path past the old farmhouse
A place I stayed when young
With many of the heroes of the day
Great walks on the hills
Great climbs on this huge wild cliff!
Alpine in stature.
Big bags, big days, big adventures.
Wild descents from the “white room”
Where Cornices await!
Descend , down, down,down.
The window, the frozen loch
No more slippy sleepers
Or muddy bog
Wild space and hummocks
Just the native trees now.
Shelter at last from the wind
The wall and safety
No views today
Cliffs hidden in grey.
Only peace solitude and memories.
Head down, head cleared, head home
(Mountain medicine works and is free!) Try it!