Sun 11th Feb - Fri 16th Feb, 2001
Midweek Glencoe Hut Meet
Members present: Dave Whittingham, John Evans, Peter Johnson, Al Metelko, Vanessa Addison and Duncan Lee.
Guests present: Dave Kenyon, Jesper Jorgensen, Alan Morton and Tony.
The thaw that blighted the weekend meet was thankfully quickly replaced by a cold snap and conditions improved as a reward for those brave and/or foolish enough to stay up for the week.
Monday mornings initial cloud and drizzle were enough deterrent to persuade most folks that a lie in was a good idea but Al and Vanessa set off to Ben Nevis regardless. There optimism was soon rewarded however as the weather cleared and Vanessa launched her leading career on ice with an impressive ascent of Waterfall Gully (IV). Subsequently, whilst watching a Plastic y Breadbin group practising ice axe arrests, Vanessa commented on the tedium of the affair. Needless to say, ten minutes later, whilst having to use an ice axe arrest in anger she did not find the procedure at all boring. An hour later it was all still very interesting as she stopped her second plummet downhill of the day. A quick decision was made to avoid the hat trick and they called it a day.
The teams that sneaked a lie in were rewarded for their laziness with a view of an otter swimming in the loch opposite the hut. Finally though breakfast could be dragged out no longer so we headed off in a variety of directions. The Whitteringman and John set out on a recognisance mission to Stob Coire Nan Lochan and then traversed Bidean Nam Bian enjoying fantastic views over the summits. Pete and Jesper also had a good walk over Sgor Na H-Ulaidh, which Pete found particularly exhilarating. Mr. Kenyon and I went to the Buchaille where we short roped our way up the classic and highly pleasing Curved Ridge (II). I had agreed to act as an inept punter to assist Dave with his training for his winter assessment (he passed). Acting ineptly on a snow-covered hill came naturally to me. The wind on the summit was bitingly cold but the views of the adjacent peaks were adequate compensation. Seeing three Golden Eagles was a definite bonus.
Tuesday morning saw Al and Vanessa making an early start to Creag Meagaidh for Vanessa's second lead on ice. The highly impressive Last Post (V). A fine parting shot from Vanessa before fleeing to warmer climes and climbs for five months. The other early birds were Dave K and I who headed up to Ben Nevis. Dave set a blistering pace that saw us at the CIC hut in an hour and a half. It nearly killed me. A strong wind necessitated a quick change of plan but we had a great day doing Garadh Gully (II) and Glover's Chimney (III/IV) before finishing up Tower Ridge from Tower Gap and descending Number Three Gully where we found some booty. A shiny new dead man.
Jesper and Pete spent the day touring the delights and sites of Fort William. Judging by the number of bottles of malt that Jesper returned with there must have been some serious whisky sampling going on.
By contrast John was busy sampling his first ever winter route; Number 4 Buttress (II) on Stob Coire Nam Beith. An experience he and Dave were still sampling whilst the rest of us were toasting by the fire at the hut. Whilst we were relaxing Dave was irremovably cold-welding his favourite warthog into a crack for a belay. John in the meanwhile, alone in the darkness, was cooling to the delights of a long winters day. To quote. "I should have been freaking out but I was too busy shivering so I didn't." Finally they topped out to a view of the Northern Lights at 9pm and were back at the hut by 11.15pm. By this time even I was getting worried. I have NEVER known Dave to miss last orders before! He assures me it will never happen again.
Tuesday evening also saw changes in the team as Al and Vanessa headed back south. Reinforcements soon arrived in the form of Alan (Mary's mad friend) and Tony who were armed with a serious thirst and a bottle of Bowmores. Not having seen Alan since Yosemite last April I felt compelled to be sociable and the next thing you know it is 1.30am, I'm plastered and the alarm clock that I am no longer capable of focussing on is set for 5.30am. Ah, the joys of a Scottish winter.
The joys of a Scottish winter took on a particularly painful clarity the following morn. The initial pain was all self inflicted the previous night but the high velocity impact that occurred at Meggy, between a large block of ice and my testicles was totally out of my control. Thankfully the slow gurgling double up forwards gave me plenty of time to bury my axes into the snow. Once Dave had stopped laughing and I had regained my composure (i.e. wiped the tears from my eyes) we ran away from Last Post as the two vandals above continued to hack the route to pieces. Morons! Instead we did the highly enjoyable Staghorn Gully (III) but at the end of the day we still felt robbed.
Dave and Jon ventured briefly out of their padded cell for a walk up the Lost Valley whilst Jesper and Pete bagged a couple of Munroes at the west end of the Mamores; Mullach Nan Coirean and Stob Ban. They reported that the summits were crystal clear and that the views were magical. Team Scotland also had a fine day out on the Buchaille with Tony following Alan up Curved Ridge for his first winter route. A classy introduction to the delights of the white stuff.
Thursday saw Dave and John out on the hill first for a change. They assured me that the slog up to Stob Coire Nan Lochan was just as gruelling as ever and that Dave's extremely vocal gibbering was up to its usual high standards being audible from the Buchaille. The good rock and mushy snow on Dorsal Arête keep them entertained for the day and they even made it down in daylight this time. A combination of the warm weather and a lack of energy saw Dave K and I taking a rest whilst Jesper and Pete went for a walk into the Lost Valley. Team Scotland headed south in the direction of the Trossachs planning to bag a few Corbetts.
Glorious weather on Friday saw Dave K heading to Aonach Mor where he did Morwind (IV) with some friends from the Brenin. Jesper festered around the hut waiting for reinforcements from south of the border but alas Dave, John and I turned our backs on the hills and headed home.
Cheers to everyone who turned up and helped to make this such an enjoyable meet.
Scottish Mid week meet; Alex MacIntyre Memorial Hut.
For those desperate to stay north of the border after Dave's weekend meet (or still needing to Sober up after Dave's whisky) a few places have been booked for the rest of the week. The hut costs £3.50 per night so a cheque to me (payable to the KMC) for £17.50p guarantees you a bed. Unfortunately it does not guarantee you a sound proof bunk far from the Whitterringman. Any one interested should let me know ASAP. Either phone me, email me or talk to me at the pub on Thursdays.