Wednesday, February 08, 2012

140. Ben Challum (106) 04/02/2012

Sunshine: negligible.
Clarity: minimal.
Wind: howling.
Precipitation: plentiful.
Amount of sleep: negligible.
Navigation: average to poor.
Fun had: small and concentrated in an area around breakfast.

It could have been ok - the plan was to get a nice rest on the Caledonian sleeper to Tyndrum, from where we would set up on a day of average forecast (some rain and wind expected, but not too much) to a not-too-distant hill. This would give us a good warm-up day for our weekend.

Needless to say, that didn't happen. The sleeper train turned out to be a bus (because some freight train had got in a muddle in southern England) and the grumpy bus driver dropped us off in the cold at 7am, with nowhere open to shelter. About 90 minutes later, our B&B kindly let us in and gave us a sympathy breakfast (which was excellent) and then we forced our cramped muscles into action and plodded off up the hill.

Despite not being a particularly long or hard walk in good conditions, in the constant sleet/snow and wind without any landmarks, it became a bit of an ordeal... Throughout the ascent we kept expecting the snow to abate, but it was not to be. The top was discovered via Garmin, but it was more reminiscent of the south pole.

At least up to this point, the wind had been largely behind us, so we decided to carry on down the sheltered side of the hill and make our way back round lower down. In principle, this was a good idea, but we must have got the bearing slightly wrong, since the slope we found was steeper than the map had assured me. With a mixture of bum-sliding and ice-axe-planting, we eventually made it down onto gentler slopes, but it had taken us from 'cold but mostly dry' to 'sopping wet'. The rest was a bit of a trudge down to the river and out to Auchtertyre and involved a crossing that was not to be achieved dry-shod.

Still, it wasn't long before we'd warmed up in 'Paddy's' with a pie and a pint and were soon looking back on it as a character-building adventure. We were just hoping for better conditions in the coming days!

What Ben Challum actually looks like - we had no idea.


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