Last Saturday I had the pleasure of my first day out guiding Wei Peng & May May during their working holiday from Singapore. As soon as we met on the Friday night it was obvious to me that we were going to get on. Wei Peng had asked for a ‘non-technical day’ so I had something like Beinn Damh in mind with its’ steady ascent but rewarding views. However Wei Peng had another objective in mind and when he showed me Beinn a ‘ Chearcaill on his phone I realised that they knew what they were after. The first time I walked up this lovely hill was with a friend Brett, from the States, not long after Rachel and I had got married; then after that as part of my work on the Cicerone Press walking guidebook to Torridon. The views into Coire Mhic Fhearchair were like being high up in the Dress Circle of a magnificent theatre. Those were the views, albeit winter ones that I wanted Wei Peng & May May to see.
A quiet start to Saturday morning as we headed up from Grudie towards the imposing peaks of Beinn Eighe. A herd of deer were low down near the path, but little else was seen except for someone who had clearly made an early start and seemed a bit dazed by us on the path! We headed into the corrie to begin an ascent to the plateau of this great wee hill. The snow was loose and dry which made for pleasant walking as the going got rougher and rougher. It was good fun comparing the use of a map, GPS and the burn to take us to take us from one lochan to another on the way to the summit slopes. Take a look at the photos on our nineonesix-guiding gallery to see the use of these navigation skills to locate the last lochan.
Once on the slopes the loose and in some places deep snow started to challenge progress so it was time for me to break trail for a bit. I explained the importance of taking in the differences in terrain, aspect and whether the wind had scoured the snow or not. At around 700m altitude, near to the summit carin I filmed Wei Peng causing small shooting cracks in the clearly unstable snowpack. By now the wind had picked up and the cloud closed in a bit so any views were fleeting until we reached the top to be rewarded with clear views across to the famous corrie of Beinn Eighe. Duvets and smiles went on while I took as many photos as my smartphone camera could cope with in the temperature.
On the way down Wei Peng and May May took turns at choosing the best way down the ridge towards Loch Maree and some beautiful light on the mountains in Fisherfield. As the light started to fade our route traversed back down to the path across the corrie where my two clients proceeded to speed off despite Wei Peng wearing a pair of my winter boots. Their pace and skilful footwork on the path meant that we got back to the car without having to use headtorches which was a delight for me.
We shared a lot of other mountain ascents in common across the World but today we agreed that this ‘non-technical day’ had been one of the best. Take care and I look forward to seeing you both again.
blog by Jim Sutherland