Archive for the ‘Meall nan Tarmachan’ Tag

Winter Wonderland – Ski Touring in the Tarmachans   4 comments

Our winter trip to the Southern Highlands has been a fixture now for 10 years. In that time we’ve had a few days of sunshine and a couple of days of proper winter conditions. We’ve never had both together and the weather has always been mixed although the weather has never been a complete washout.

This year, our 11th, the forecast looked promising with high pressure and cold weather following a snowy spell giving much hope for a great conditions. Drawing back the curtains on the Friday morning gave substance to that hope.

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Lots of deep fresh snow equals a chance for some ski touring. I abandoned TBF to the tender mercies of the Sheffield Boys while we headed to Lochan na Larige for a high start. We had park below the reservoir as the road was blocked by snow and ice.

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Spoilt for choice with the mountains plastered in snow above 500m, and after much debate we settled on Meall Nan Tarmachan.

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The weather and views were just breathtaking. How often is it you’re glad you remembered sunglasses on a day out in Scotland. We ploughed our trail up towards the ridge that carries the baggers path to the summit

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Alas the Scottish weather nipped at our heels as a bank of grey cloud drifted in and started to cloak the higher summits. We were even treated to the almost unheard of sight of MM struggling with tiredness (he had just flown back from a business trip to Brazil!)

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By the time we reached the summit it had reached us as well so it was the briefest of stops, tinged with a little disappointment that the fine start to the day had petered out.

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Luckily skiing downhill is great fun even in the cloud. This descent enlivened by my attempt to ski an extremely steep gully badly broken by deep footprints and with boots not adjusted properly. Ratio between ski and fall about 20:80! 🙂

We skied down to the track and then back up to the ridge for another descent back to the car. The fickle Scottish weather turned again and the sun came out

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Not sure what I did with the camera settings but they came out rather dark and broody looking but still capture the essence of what was a cracking ski descent

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The snow was a little heavy but fluffy enough for some wonderful easy turns as we picked a superb route through the crags and gullies

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I seem to have lost the ability to keep a camera aligned to the horizon as I’ve got older. However this particular shot seems to be best yet. Pretty sure Loch Tay would empty rather quickly at that sort of angle. 🙂

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The patches of blue and the sunlight on the mountains, backed by dark clouds was just magnificent

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This shot of GM in action is my favourite from the day

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The descent went on all the way down to the dam and the massive water pipe that pops out from the base

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For most of us climbing under the pipe was the only time we took skis off all day. MM made a very brave effort at trying to limbo underneath without taking them off. A then made it look easy!

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Blue skies, a ski munro, two cracking descents, and ski to/from the car on excellent snow with great company. Does a day get better than this? Watch this blog to find out.

Southern Highlands Weekend – Wet ‘n Wild on Day 2   10 comments

After our exertions on day 1 we woke to the welcome sight of hammering rain on the morning of day 2. Time for a VERY leisurely breakfast and some more indecision on where to go. A small splinter group set off for Bheinn Bhuidhe down south (JB is close to completing his second round of munros and this one was missing). The rest of us plumped for the Tarmachan ridge above Loch Tay after a morning swapping music files and generally waiting for the rain to stop. It was a cunning plan as it had stopped by the time we set off.

Tarmachans Ridge, 8.5 miles, 2,900 feet of ascent

We dropped TBM and ED off in Killin for what was to become a familiar tale of low-level ambles between bars and pints. It’s their way. You can read ED’s post of his day here.

The rest of drove to our starting point near what was the nature reserve car park under Ben Lawers, now a building site? Last time I was here was in 1986 in full winter conditions (remember them) but today no snow but at least it had stopped raining and looked reasonably promising for a half reasonable day. It’s a nice walk for a laid back day with an excellent track that goes pretty much to the bottom of the far end of the ridge and then its a short steep climb onto the ridge and walk back along it before a short drop down to the car.

There were some pretty reasonable views across Loch Tay and even some glimpses of sunshine.

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OFS, GM and EWO

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Stormy view over Killin

We figured the ridge would be cold and windy (a correct analysis) so we stopped for lunch just before the final climb to the ridge. I brewed up amongst the usual pish-taking about my stove but frankly I didn’t give a damn (they should use that in a film – sounds good) as I sat with fresh cuppa.

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R poses for photo

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That's EWO and HMB on that summit

The climb up onto the first top was exceedingly steep and grassy but once up the views were pretty impressive.

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GM tries vegetation scrambling, a dying art

The ridge snakes along ahead of you and you realise then that the Tarmachans have 4 tops so there is quite a lot of up and down. It’s a really interesting ridge twisting and turning with lots of interesting spots and some decent views.

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OFS, TCK and the Tarmachans ridge

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Shafts of sunlight

It’s a great route to introduce beginners to winter walking with snow with a couple of narrow rocky sections without ever being too hard.

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The paths twists amongst the tops

One of our friends from Yorkshire was back on his first visit to Scotland in several years and was revelling in the day even though it was wild and windy. I’ll refer to him as The Cauliflower King (TCK). Why? Well he’s not the most culinarily gifted of people and once while on a trip to Switzerland I asked him to chop up a Cauliflower for a Vegetable curry. He SLICED it! I kid you not. What we had were numerous wafer thin tree-shaped slices of whole cauliflower which turned the meal into a sort of Cauliflower soup. He’s never lived it down.

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EWO nad Creag na Caillich

Anyway we carried on along the ridge, all of us really enjoying the twists and turns and climbs and looking for a second lunch spot. The weather had other ideas though and it started to snow and suddenly we were in a sea of white, not quite a white out but pretty nasty and definitely not a time for a sandwich and a cuppa. We thought it might blow over but it lasted for well over an hour until we were heading back down to the car. Bit of a shame as we didn’t get to enjoy the short narrow scramble in the middle and couldn’t linger on the summit.

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Just before it turned truly nasty

As we plodded down the sun suddenly came out and we had a short spell of sensational views across Loch Tay with cloud brushing the tops of Ben Lawers. Alas my camera got damp and the lens fogged up so none of my photos came out. By the time we reached the car it was raining again and were all pretty tired but it’s a longer and tougher day than it looks but a thoroughly rewarding one. It’s one of the best ridges in the Southern highlands and well worth a trip if you’re up this way

We had another splendid evening in the bar at Suie Lodge including EWO, the worlds tightest miser eating a posh sounding tuna and cream cheese pate (this is a man who lived on millet during a frugal round Europe bike ride). Made us laugh though

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"How much is this costing me?"

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The gangs all here

Another little slide show to enjoy before the final instalment in the Southern Highlands trilogy

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