Yesterday I was offered a trip to Applecross by a pal Pete Amphlett we went in his van it was not an early start we left at 0900 from my house. It was a stunning day bitter cold but no ice on the roads, it was a dry bitter cold day. The views all the way a long drive 2 and a half hours long was worth it and the hills were plastered in snow. Ben Wyvis looks great absolutely white and all the hills looked incredible and there was little wind. I am still full of the cold and the cough means that it would be a short day hence the late start. We had hoped to find some roadside ice that would make a short day acceptable.
As we drove by Kishorn the wee ice-fall that I had climbed many times in the past was forming but sadly was not there yet a few days more and you may have roadside ice. As we passed Beinn Bhann there were 5 vans and the climbers must have been away early. The view from now on gets better with the sea and the mountains and the road that winds it way up through the hills to Beleach Na Ba. On the way you cannot fail to enjoy the majestic Cioch Nose that towers from the Corrie as you head up to Beleach Na Ba. The road was clear and it was so quite as we headed up to the Beleach we passed the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team wagons they were training on the nearby Meall Gorm. Sadly as we climbed up to the beleach there was little ice so we headed up to the main car park which was clear. There was no North Coast 500 crowds at this time of year and this viewpoint is one of the best there were only 2 cars and a tent!
We saw Martin Moran’s van he is a local guide and member of the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team in the car park. His book “Higher Ground” is a great read and few will know the North West as well as this man, he is a fountain of knowledge on these hills and the book is a great insight into a Guides life in the mountains. He is key man on Rescues in this area along with the local Torridon Team great folk who give a superb service in this wild area.
It was bitter cold in the car park and I had my duvet on all day even on the hill and we just took a lightweight winter bag and headed up the hill. The cough and cold is still with me so I am feeling the cold or is it old age. We planned wander along to Sgurr a’ Chaorachain past the radio mast and weather station where the views open. You get great views of the classic Cioch ridge where we could see Martin Moran having an adventure along the tops and ledges, it looked stunning. We soon put on crampons as the snow was very hard in places, How easy these new crampons step in are to put on and we just wandered along with the ice axes. I was wary in a few places as you would get used to walking in crampons again no matter how often you have done it.
We had plenty of stops as I was coughing Pete was patient but it was bitter cold and we watched Martins party on the Cioch how small they looked in this wild winter environment yet so close to the road. We met a party of 3 coming back along the ridge they had decided that with limited winter gear it was not for them, a good decision. I have used this area when Team Leader at RAF Kinloss as it gives easy access to winter cliffs if the road is clear and the gullies can be good for training and stretcher lowers in winter, The journey to the neighbouring Corbett Beinn Bhan for here can be interesting navigation as there are many lochans and great country to learn navigational skills.
The views into the wild Corrie as always impress and in this frozen landscape so many mountains open up. Skye was looking dark across the water and the islands in a grey light foreboding. We could see folk on the nearby Meall Gorm in a gully that was also Torridon MRT they looked like stick men in the cliffs. We had a hot drink peppermint tea and honey but did not hang about it was cold even when you stopped. I was coughing on the gentle rises up the hill and take care as the ground was tricky in places. You have to be always careful with crampons on not to trip and the snow was glazed and if you ut something down unattended it would be away. I nearly lost my crampon bag when the wind picked it up but it stopped near the cornice, I got it back but never chase lost kit near edges.
It was great to look into this wild place and enjoy the solitude and we had a fun day only about 3 hours but great to be out and the weather was very kind to us. We cramponed back near enough to the road and then headed back. The stags were down near the road looking great and the weather was not to bad as there was still grass about and the shelter of the trees lower down.
On the way home the roads were quite again and it was grand to be driven home and back at a reasonable time after a fun day out.
Sorry Kallie for not visiting and all the Torridon Team I am sure you enjoyed your magic day.
Thanks Pete for driving and the company..