donderdag 14 februari 2013

Snow. Again. And sleet....

...and rain, hail and icing and snow again. All with a bitterly cold, strong wind. And another 19km of walking. I feel stronger every day.
After walking in our local forest with my wife and our dogs she, and the dogs, drove home and I walked around the Naardermeer, a natural lake/swamp and Holland's first nature reserve, est.1901.

After a pinkish sunrise the sky was soon overcast. Snow was predicted at the end of the morning. It was a few degrees below zero but felt much colder.
The walk around the Naardermeer is called 'Het Laarzenpad' (The Wellies Way) because parts of it go through pastures and wet areas. The pastures are trodden by cows and were frozen solid. Crossing it for 1km was more difficult than walking on a Scottish boulderfield. 
At 11.30am it started with sleet which turned into snow 20 minutes later. The wind was coming from the side but didn't bother me too much. I was comfy in my Paramo Alta I jacket and Goretex trousers.
The lake was frozen and the howling wind made beautifull patterns on the ice. The last stretch I walked straight into the wind but I made good progress despite the difficult circumstances. I arrived home at 13.00pm covering 19km in 3hrs45mins.

zondag 10 februari 2013

Most Valuable Piece of Gear

Yes, Crocs of Orange. Bought them today, my first pair. Second hand of course :-)

More snow

More snowfall yesterday and last night. Up to 18cm (7 inches) in places. Brings back memories from when I was a young lad. I had a nice walk with the dogs.


zaterdag 9 februari 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 : planned route

I've published my route on this blog earlier, see this post, but didn't go in too much detail at the time. My route still had to be vetted so minor changes were still possible. The esteemed vetters Les and Issy Silkowski have had a look at my route and returned it with sensible comments and good tips.
Some repairs had to be made and finally my route was approved.

Day 1 : distance 19km and 1950m ascended
My journey will start with a boattrip from Mallaig to Inverie, followed by a nice walk to warm the muscles to Gleann na Guiserein. From there I'll ascend Ladhar Bheinn, one of Knoydart's gems. It has been on my wishlist for years, originally as a daytrip from Barrisdale.
The descent, which looks like a sort of screeslope, is made from point 849 into Coire a' Phuill. At Mam Barrisdale I might meet some Challengers going in the direction of Kinlochhourn or perhaps we'll climb Luinne Bheinn together. Luinne Bheinn is descended to the southeast and camp will be somewhere along the River Carnach.

Day 2 : 19km - 2300m
This day is a bit odd. A classic ridge walk and two crossings of glens, north-south instead of west-east. After crossing the River Carnach it's into and up Coire na Cuairtich to reach the ridge leading to Sgurr na Ciche. Another chance to meet Challengers coming up from Sourlies. After Sgurr na Ciche the ridge continues over Garbh Chioch Mor, Garbh Chioch Bheag and Sgurr nan Coireachan. Then it's due south to Glen Dessarry followed by an ascend of Meall nan Spardan and the Corbett Carn Mor. Before reaching Meall nan Eun I'll be taking a shortcut south to the bealach between Gleann an Obain Bhig and Glen Pean. This stretch is the crux of my whole route, it's steep and can be dangerous.
I've been searching the web for trip reports and pictures from the north side of these glens and found only one account, going up from the bealach.
If a save descent can't be made I'll have to follow the ridge west down to Loch Morar and go east through Gleann an Obain Bhig. A river crossing will then be neccesary and might prove impossible when in spate. See Two Routes' account from 2012.
If all goes well camp will be made near the illustrious named Lochan Dubh, the Black Loch. And black it is in this narrow and rough part of these glens. Might even meet some Challengers. It's really a social route you know.

Day 3 :  23km - 2550m
Another day containing Munros and crossing glens 'the wrong way'. There's a stalkers path up Sgurr nan Coireachan (yes, another SnC but a different one from yesterday) and a ridgewalk east leading to Sgurr Thuilm. Shortly before Meall an Fhir-eoin I'll go southeast and cross Gleann a' Chaorainn and the next, Gleann Camgharaidh, and via Gualann nan Osna up to Gulvain. Southeast to cross Gleann Fionlighe and move further southeast to Gleann Suileag. Perhaps I'll spend the night in Sulaig bothy or go upstream in the direction of Glen Loy before making camp. A lot of going up and down which explains the 2550m of height gain. Only the Mamores on day 5 will have more ascend.

Day 4 : 25km - 350m
After this leisurely start of my Challenge it's time for some relaxing. Through Glen Loy to the Great Glen, avoiding some roadwalking by going through the woods south of Glen Loy and joining the Great Glen Way near Torcastle cottages. The Allt Sheangain goes through a tunnel underneath the Caledonian Canal, a river going underneath a canal. Weird !
Shopping can be done at Fort William and this evening I'll have the luxury of a bed and shower at the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel.

Day 5 : 27km - 2900m
A cracker ! Another 'must do this one day' which I'd planned some years ago but had to abandon due to galeforce winds. Even the old pinetrees in front of the YH were having a hard time.
I'll be following the West Highland Way for a short while and go to the ancient fort of An Dun. From there my journey goes over Sgorr Chalum, Mullach nan Coirean, Stob Ban, Sgurr an Iubhair, Am Bodach, Stob Coire a' Chairn, Na Gruagaichean, Binnein Mor and Binnein Beag before making camp below Sgurr Eilde Beag. A tough day that needs not too much wind and snow, a gentle westerly breeze and some mild sunshine over the cloudless summits would do nicely.

Day 6 : 25km - 1350m
It's always good to have a bit of level walking before doing any serious climbing but not today. From the bealach the most easterly Munro of The Mamores, Sgurr Eilde Mor, is just a minor bump with a height difference of only 270m. Nothing compared to Ben Nevis but still a Munro. From the northeastern shoulder of Sgurr Eilde Mor it's cross country in a virtually straight line to Luibelt to cross the Abhainn Rath and follow an easy path downstream to Loch Treig. After crossing the railroad it's up Garbh-bheinn and staying high to reach Stob Coire Sgriodain. Camp will be made at Lochan Coire an Lochain. In calm, warm weather the place can be infested with midges, in that case I'll stay high.

Day 7 : 25km - 2000m
Another Munro, Chno Dearg, first thing in the morning again and southeast to River Ossian. From Loch Ghuillbinn ascend the plateau for Beinn Eibhinn, Aonach Beag and Geal-Charn and north to ford the Allt Cam. I'll turn west to reach the west end of Beinn a' Chlachair and follow this Munro east for 5km.  Wildcamp at Bealach Leamhain.

Day 8 : 23km - 750m
Straight up a Munro, Creag Pitridh, again (who planned this?), followed by another one, Geal Charn, but an easy day nevertheless. Down to Loch Pattack and along Loch Ericht to Dalwhinnie. Bunkhouse, bed, shower and a non-dehydrated dinner.

Day 9 : 33km - 1800m
If I feel really good I might bag the 4 Munros west of the A9 but the initial plan is to go up to the quarry and bag just 1 today, A' Bhuidheanach Bheag. From there east to Sronphadruig and then east from Loch an Duin, more or less following the border, if not the peat hags, to Feith Ghorm Ailleag. This stream will lead me to the foot of Beinn Bhreac for another wildcamp.

Day 10 : 33km - 1950 km
The next few days will be loooong days, especially when the ground is saturated but I have one spare day and can cut some days short.
First thing in the morning will be Beinn Bhreac, a Corbett for a change, followed by a lovely 'ridgewalk' over Carn an Fhidhleir, An Sgarsoch, Carn Bhac, Beinn Iutharn Mor and Mam nan Carn before descending to Loch nan Eun and making camp.

Day 11 : 35km - 2060m
This day the ridgewalk will be continued. An Socach, Carn a' Gheoidh, Carn Aosda, The Cairnwell, Glas Maol, Creag Leacach, back to Glas Maol, Cairn of Claise, Carn an Tuirc, Tom Buidhe and a wildcamp before or after Tolmount. 10 Munros in one day (11 if you count Glas Maol twice) ? Is this feasable ? There seems to be less peat hagsand bog if you stay high. We'll see.

Day 12 : 30km - 1200m
In 2007 I walked Jock's Road from Callater to Clova. Today I'll cross that road on my way to Lochnagar. There's a big chance of meeting fellow Challengers coming from Callater Lodge or Braemar who will all be following the 'trade route' to Tarfside. After Shielin of Mark I'll probably leave this 'traderoute' for my final Munro, Mount Keen. Scotland's most easterly Munro. Wildcamp in Glen Mark before Mount Keen.

Day 13 : 34km - 830m
From Mount Keen it's all downhill, passing Tarfside on my way to the coast. I'll just be popping in St.Drostan's for a snack before moving on to make camp somewhere down Glen Esk.

Day 14 : The final day ? If everything goes according to plan - I love it when a plan comes to work - yes. If not we'll have had some delay underway. Edzell, North Water Bridge, Marykirk, Hill of Morphie, St.Cyrus, the eastcoast and a last plod back up from the shoreline to the busstop.

A huge amount of 45 Munros if the weather is cooperative for 14/15 days. The last few years have seen difficult circumstances weatherwise and plans can or must be adjusted if necessary.

This is not just a Challenge or The Challenge. It will be full of challenges along the way.