Winter West – East 1977 some big days Part 2 Kinlochhourn – Kintail via a few hills and heavy snow,

Day 5. November 1  – Kinlochourn-Gleouraich-Spidian Mialach- Cluanie Lodge Kintail. This was another massive pull from sea level; to both Munros, they were steep then a big walk to Cluannie Lodge at Kintail there was lots of snow my thoughts “we may have to pull out because of weather is so bad”. We had  been wet all day worried about frozen feet, no ice axes with us, hills now plastered and very tricky on the very steep  wet grass snow covered  descent. Winter was with us on the hills, we may have to relook at our plans. .The keeper gave us a huge dram when we arrived at Cluannie Lodge and told us the weather was going to get worse he gave use of a house near the big Lodge. We had a great fire and tried to get our clothes dry wet gear in sleeping bag every night.  I told Terry that my knee was bad he stayed with me Jim pushing on with navigation and route, just hanging in.   I phoned RAF Kinloss from the Lodge and asked for ice axes and pain killers to be sent out ASAP.  A very long hard day, these are serious big hills, the wind is constant as is the wet gear. The walk after the hill went on for ever. 35k/2816mtrs. – 2 new Munros and Total Munros 7

Munros Gleouraich Spidean Mialach

Day 6. – November 2  Cluanie Lodge Kintail – We did not want to leave the comfort of the bothy and the fire. Jim still wanted to complete the 9 Munros of the South Cluannie despite the weather conditions. We had some day and used fence posts as ice axes. In the end we settled for seven of the Cluannie Munros in deep snow and heavily corniced. Drum Shionnach-Aonach Air Chrith-Maol Chean Dearg-Sgurr a Doire Leathain-Sgurr an Lochan-Creag nan Damh-Sgurr na Sgine-Sheil Bridge, no ice axes lots of snow. It was really tricky coming off in the dark with the deep snow all the way. The area knowledge I have is very handy and saves time, we have to watch as we are getting white out conditions at times then it clears.  Another huge day of 25k/2841mtrs.  7 new Munros Total 14 Munros

No Axes

We needed a day off after 14 Munros in pretty wild conditions. Knee very sore had a big chat as we are heading into wild Affric but will be slower but will get there, pain killers help! Terry has a bit of a limp but still chasing Jim. The weather to wild to be left behind and snow too deep to break own steps, all took turns today over the 7 Munros.

Day 7,- 3/11/77  At last a day off at Sheil Bridge Kintail  well needed in the small bothy, we got our ice axes  picked up our winter gear and another wild weather forecast for the following week! It was great to have lie in and sort out the gear and get it dried off. We picked up our rations for the next few days anaxes and more winter kit the bags were very heavy! We went to Kintail Arms for lunch and were soon back at our tiny bothy and slept like logs.

Drying off

Our daily routine is always the same up at 0500 porridge on the stove and try to be gone by 0700 earlier as the weather got worse. The daylight was getting less every day and at the end we had about 6-7 hours daily.   We usually finished in the dark first things was the water on for a brew as we changed into our one change of clothes and socks, get a fire going if possible. The meal was always porridge in the morning the food of Gods, soup and a ready meal never enough at night and on the hill we carried chocolate about 3 bars a day was what we planned and carried. At the food caches we had some lovely things like tinned fruit and custard, I loved it. I hardly eat the chocolate and Jim on one day ate 10 bars, it is scary now thinking about it.

There are some big days ahead, remember these were the days before GPS, Good weather forecasts and some basic gear. Comments welcome more to come!

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 mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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