Great weather on Beinn Dearg Hard going it’s hard going in the snow. A Winter day

Beinn Dearg (Ullapool)

I had not been up Beinn Dearg for a while so with a good weather forecast I was away early. It’s a 2 hour drive but it all went well though it was raining when I left home. Lots of stags on road especially on the Fannichs in dark so be careful.

I parked in the forestry car park just before 0800 there was another lad in car park he was heading to Seanna Bhraigh a long way. The stags were roaring on the hill. I could see fresh snow at about 700 metres. It was freezing when I got out the car and got sorted ice axe and crampons with me. Big boots and a bit heavier bag. I can see that the trees have been cleared near Stron Nea a cliff I had some adventures on as Doctor Tom Patey climbed here. This was his patch and I wanted to see how the gullies were looking it used to be a climbing ground for the team.

The Classic is Emerald Gully a wonderful ice climb. Yet before the cliff there are great routes neglected and well worth a look when the big cliffs are out due to winds. We have done many routes here. They have an Irish connection in their names.

Crag features UKC.

“This massive mountain has many corries providing some of the best winter climbing in the far north.”

The bike. Must sort my gears out.

The start is a track through the forestry for two miles so I took my bike. I had to be careful as there was plenty of ice on the track. It is worth taking it as on the way home it’s all down hill. My bike gears were causing problems. So I left it early. I was soon out of the forest and onto the hill path past the wee hydro in the trees. The path was tricky lots of ice and verglas. This was tricky going as it was pretty frozen all the way to the snow.


It was hard going I was slow and the gullies on the way up were still snowless until I hit the main cliff. It’s a good path but another needing tlc.

Some classic winter lines here.

I walked on heading to the beleach and after 2 hours I was in the snow. I had snow-holed hear many years ago when ice climbing in Coire Ghranda that was some day, it’s wild country with lots of scope.

From here it was heavy going there were no footprints just snow and when your on your own it’s hard going.

This was icy underfoot.

Once at the beleach it seemed to go on for ever but the main cliff had lots of snow but no ice. I have been to a few avalanches here there are lots of big Cornices above the ice routes. Be careful here if winter climbing.

From here I followed the Famine Wall that was built in the mid 1840’s during the potato famine . A tragic time in our history.

It is also called “Destitution Wall stands on Beinn Dearg, leading from the bealach up to near the summit before striking down the mountain’s north-west ridge. It was built in the mid-19th century by crofters in return for food during Scotland’s potato famine – a harsh way to earn a pittance”

The wall that had drifted snow on each side. That was hard work. I was feeling the hard going and stopped to eat. It’s a wonderful place to be. Yet it was bitter cold. I had my ice axe out as there was hard neve snow in places.

The Famine Wall

The wall takes you onto the plateau where you leave it and head to the summit. It’s featureless here and tricky navigation in a white out.

My phone stopped working it was bitter cold but moved it into my fleece pocket and it was okay after a charge and some heat. I marvelled at the views yet it was bitter. Running for several miles along the east-west ridge on Beinn Dearg is another sad reminder of our past, a huge drystane dyke, in places up to six feet high. It was built in the 1840s during the potato famine by starving crofters in return for food, just another monument to the harsh Highland living conditions of the time.

The Famine Wall

I decided to go back this way as the Glen would be still icy maybe the ridge would be better? It was still hard going and there was a lot of snow on this side. The views of The Fannichs and An Teallach and further North it was spellbinding.

Hard going

I dropped back down to the path fairly steep and had a wet river crossing then back on the path to the forest.

End of the Wall
I stopped here and had a great break no rush to get away from this place .

I picked up the bike and was soon at the car. Yes it was worth taking it. I was very tired and then the a change of clothes and rehydrate. I met the guy who I had seen earlier he had not made Seanna Bhraigh the heavy going put him off. Then it was a send a couple of messages that I was off the hill safely then the drive home. The Sky was pink and the hills looked incredible.

Bonnie view on way off.
I was soon home really tired but so happy what a day hard work but to be out on this place alone is a special feeling. Always tell someone what your plans are.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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