Enthusiasm on An Teallach

Yesterday was an early start up at 0400 as I was meeting an old pal Tommy Pilling who was up staying at Gairloch for a week. Tommy was in days of yore a typical of a young troop in Mountain Rescue he was from Burnley and 17 when he joined the team. He was a like most of them a real character. He worked so hard on his fitness never gave up on the hill and we had some great hill days or “death marches” as they were called.

His wife Mandy got in touch a few years ago and we had a day in the Cairngorms. He had time now the family had grown up and he was out in the hills again. We already had a great day on Beinn Eighe on Tuesday that Tommy loved even though we were soaked at the end of the day. He loved these mountains and I left him with plans for Slioch and Beinn Allgin which he did.

Fain bothy on the road of Destitution.

The forecast was good for the day and we were to meet at the Car park near the Hotel. Even early in the morning most lay-byes were full with vans and cars at 0600. I had planned to do the full ridge and had a short rope and a bit of gear with me. Tommy was on time and we were away by 1930. He was pretty exhausted and decided just to do the two Munro’s.

He had a hard week but had enjoyed every minute of it. His smile was still there as was his enthusiasm. Despite the England v Scotland result! An Teallach was the plan .

Munro Map SMC Map

Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill (1062m, Munro 72)
Sgurr Fiona (1060m, Munro 73)

It would be a slow wander but Tommy was loving every minute despite being tired.

I enjoy a slow pace with time to look around we soon left the Main road and followed the dry path through various outcrops. The views of the hills opened out with Beinn Dearg and it’s Munro’s standing out. The light was grey but we could see some dark clouds brewing. It’s a pull up onto the ridge but Tommy was still chatting plans for the future in winter. Tommy had a pie he was hungry and sat and enjoyed the views. He was enjoying using his “pacer Poles” and found them so helpful.

From here it was follow the ridge crest to the first Munro looking into the wild Corries

There was still snow lying in the gullies some evidence of recent rockfall and the beautiful sandstone ridge ahead. We now had a great view of the complete ridge it never ceases to make my heart beat fast. These wild Corries have given me so many adventures and battles over the years especially in winter where a traverse of the ridge after a winter gully tested your metal.

We were soon on the first top taking photos the weather was changing and we headed down to the Beleach for a few classic photos. Then the rain came.

It got very wet we were soaked and not what we needed but it was heads down and head up the last Munro. Sadly most of the views were going but we were happy to be out on the hill.

Tommy was glad to be on the top we met a group from Stirling but did not hang around due to the weather.

Tommy on the top.

I had time as Tommy picked his way down to think of Sarah who died recently. We had a wonderful day doing all the tops and the ridge. She came out to my last top while the others waited. I told her it was my 3 completion on the tops. She was so enthusiastic “best day ever” was her quote. In the mist and rain I could remember that day with the sun on our backs heading back to our group. These memories stay with you.

You have to take care on the way back and the sandstone can be slippy. I had my hood up and Tommy was taking it easy following my line back over the first Munro.

A wet Tommy

I was soaked then the weather cleared and we stopped and took it all in. We saw two Goats and a young kid in the Glen.

It was hard going on the way of we met a couple of folk deciding whether to go on or not? The usual questions is the path easy to find etc ? It’s not the mountain to be if you loose the paths!

Tommy and the old man.

It seemed a lot longer on the way back the path was muddy with the rain but it was good to be out. Tommy was loving the day but his holiday was over. He had a great few days and would have an early night and head home.

Having a test on the seat of views .

I did not hang about when we got down. Changed my soaking gear and said goodbye to Tommy. I had a 2 hour drive back the roads were busy as were the lay byes. I was pretty tired when I got back had a bath and watched the footy and fell asleep.

Thanks Tommy for 2 great days it was magic to be out . The body is slower but you were great company see you this winter all being well. Safe journey home.

Tommy’s words

“ what a fantastic week my cheeks are hurting ive smiled that much.” Tommy Pilling June 21

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 Articles, Bothies, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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