Monday, 9 February 2015

Eight Days

Go-go gadget Lucy- I don't seem to have stopped this week.  It kicked off last sunday with a fantastic training exercise with Arran Mountain Rescue Team.  I don't usually blog MRT stuff, but it was a cracking way to get a super week going, so this time it gets a mention.

HMS Gannet buzzing in.
Rescue 177 from HMS Gannet dropped the team in the hills on a beautiful day.  It was an emotional occasion, because depending on what happens with the handover to private helicopter SAR which is being phased in over the next year, this could be our last exercise with her. The partnership between civilian MRT and our military SAR services is a long and mutually supportive one.  Gannet will be missed on Arran.

That night I was propping the eyelids open on a long drive to Ullapool with Wally for a week in the hills with friends.

Hills on the north side of the A835 plastered with snow
Monday I was good for very little so Wally and I took the skis for wander in the hills on the south side of the A835. The touring was good, and I skied my first proper powder. Heaven!

A snow covered Beinn Gobhlach across Loch Broom
On Tuesday I was still feeling a bit useless, so while the rest of the team broke trail part of the way up Gleannn na Sguaib (they didn't get too far), I took the bike for a Jantastic spin, exploring the coast road North of Ullapool. I was treated to rolling hills and stunning views like this one across Loch Broom.

Suilven's western peaks. Where's Wally?
By Wednesday I was getting my mojo back, so I joined the team on a bike/hike mission in to Scotland's most striking mountain- the lovely Suilven.  It was a big day, and the conditions were interesting with plenty of exposure on the snowy ledges along the ridge.

Bone Caves of Inchnadamph
Thursday was thawing badly and we all needed a rest so we sauntered up to the Bone Caves of Inchnadamph for a spot of speleology and botanising, followed up by tea and cake in the cafe above Northwest Outdoors (recommended).

Above the Inversion on Beinn Dearg
On friday things got very good.  We battered our way in the Gleann na Sguaib, following the trail broken by many hapless folk over the week.  None had made it beyond the final lochain, but we soon found that the snow thinned towards the bealach and before long we were stood in the mist contemplating the final snowy cone to the summit of Beinn Dearg. Miraculously, the mists parted as we climbed, and we were soon above an incredible inversion!

Scrambling on Stac Pollaidh
On saturday it was back to the clag, and a soggy scramble along the ridge on Stac Pollaidh.  We baulked at the final technical section to the summit, which looked horrible- something to come back for on a dry day!

Lonely and lost
 Finally there was yesterday.... I should have been resting but I was up early for a bike/slog back up on the the Beinn Dearg ridge to retrieve my lost ice axe. Doh! 

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