Sat 13th Feb - Sun 14th Feb, 1999
Alex Macintyre Hut, Onich
Members: Mary Stuart, Dave Dillon, Robert Clark, Colin Maddison, Duncan Lee, Sabina Cosulich, Al Metelko, Sean Kelly, Chris Williamson, Andrew Croughton and brief appearances by Ann Woolley & Steven
Guests: Chris Ivory, Christine Beeston, Elaine Beaulieu, Peter Williamson, Suzanne Duke, & Ian Brazewell.
Friday: after driving up on the Thursday night, to stay in the Rucksack Club hut "Craig Allan" in order to make the most of the weekend and gain an extra day for the weekend. Dave, Mary Chris Ivory and myself found ourselves waking up to find the usual Scottish weather waiting to greet us. After a hesitant start in the morning with a brief trip into Fort William to stock up on supplies and check the weather forecast we returned to the Alex Macintyre hut where we had left our gear, and Mary finishing off notes for work, to find a vast improvement in the weather with clearing skies and a dry evening heading our way, a quick dash to the White Corries, led us up by the ski lifts to be greeted by hard compacted snow and ice, and two hours of play time before the daylight disappeared. Chris finally got a chance to put his unused Charlet moser ice axes to use after two seasons sat in a drawer at home.
The following morning dawned as dry as the previous afternoon, although not quite as clear as Friday with most people still milling around the hut deciding where to go skiing or walking. Colin and Duncan had already left before sunrise, and the early morning ranting of the next door neighbour banging on the door shouting for the warden to get Al's *~*!-** car moved from the front road.
Heading for the Ben and Italian climb on the West Face of Tower Ridge, leading to the crest of Tower Ridge itself just below the Little Tower, they reached the CIC in a new record time even for Colin. They managed to bypass the crowds waiting to climb Tower Ridge before passing them again on the descent route. The only other person to do any climbing on the Saturday was Al Metelko who solo climbing did a right hand variation of Left Hand route (I don't now that's what he said.) (ed: Left Twin RH side on super ice) The reported conditions on the Ben were said to be some of the best for at least eight years with virtually everything in good, if not excellent, condition.
The Skiers also headed to the Ben, Dave Dillon and Mary Stuart becoming ski instructors for the day teaching their naturally talented pupil, Chris Ivory, the pleasure ? of downhill skiing in the Scottish winter, whilst the even more masochistic skiers headed away from the chairlifts and downhill slopes of the Nevis Range ski area, across to Aonach Mor loose heeled ski mountaineering.
Robert Clark and myself chose an equally energetic alternative to the skiing and headed up Sgorr Dhonuill, ( 3284 ft.) and, Sgorr Dhearg, (3360ft. ) an excellent horseshoe walk on Beinn a' Bheithir, with spectacular panoramic views across to Ballachulish and over Loch Leven to the Pap of Glencoe, and the Mamores beyond. Before descending into a maze of Forrest tracks, de-forested bog, and the slog back to the hut along the road from Ballachulish, we had time to stop and take some pictures of this very rare view of a Scottish landscape in all its full winter splendour. ( We cheated and scrounged a lift to start of the walk to avoid walking along the road. But we don't mention things like that )
After everybody had returned safely from their trips they settled into the task of mass catering in the confined kitchen area, mainly due to the masses of bacon, that Mary had managed to amassover the last two days, stacked three shelves high in the fridge and the Guardian crossword. (if anybody knows an alternative name for Herrodhopet, Pelops or the name given to a Jewish period of mourning please put your answer on a postcard and forward them to Mary.)
During this Period the hut warden, for the next two weeks, and her husband both from Edale, moved in along with their two pet border collie dogs. Sabina took an instant liking towards the two dogs and wanted spend the night with them in her bed. Colin could not help but point out that they had long scraggly and smelly hair that would malt all over the pillow and keep her awake all night, and could not see any possible attraction. Duncan just sat in the corner scratching his head, modelling his new Italian designer salopettes from the exclusive Cosulich label, only available mail order from a certain Whaley Bridge fashion house. ( perhaps we could get him to do photo shoot for the cover of the next newsletter. )
After supper the unsuspected appearance of Ann Woolly and Steven, ghostly white and stare eyed after her gripping epic on the Ben, swelled the already overbooked numbers on the meet to an amazing eighteen with one no show, not bad for a meet with only sixteen spaces specified as a maximum number for the hut.
Sunday again remained surprisingly dry for Scotland and after another leisurely start to the morning, despite the constant flow of traffic in and out of the hut from weary travellers looking for a room for Sunday night, most of the group headed out on various walks or climbs, mostly up unpronounceable Scottish hills that I can't even remember the name of. ( I think two people headed of up Beinn an on Aonaich Mhoir. If you recognise the names you will probably be one of the two. If you do not recognise the name you could still be one of the two I am not saying.)
In all a very successful meet with thanks to all those who attended and who had faith in the weather forecast, including Sean and Al who stayed on for the CIC hut meet. ( Yes they actually had the key and went all the way up to the hut itself and stayed the night.) I'm sure Sean will be able to give a brief report on this for the newsletter Al's would probably be even shorter.
Hopefully full winter conditions with easy access to the whole of the Nevis and Glencoe ranges. Limited to 16 places. £3.50 per night payed to Andrew will secure your place in heaven.
Can easily be combined with the following meet to make a really good week of snow and ice in the Scottish Mountains.
Due to Covid restrictions many meets have been cancelled and remaining meets are members only. Please check back after the restrictions are lifted.