6th to 8th March 2020 - West highland lodge Kinlochleven , Kinlochleven
On Friday night, the 17 folk assembled at the West Highland Lodge, located behind an obscure MOD facility, and perched high above Kinlochleven. The hostel was all ours, well kitted out and apparently much improved since the previous EMC visit. When not obscured by the rain, the lodge offered a fine view of the hills to the north and the former aluminium works.
Hopes were high for fine winter conditions for this meet as throughout the preceding week weather at glen level was nudging towards spring, yet the hills were covered in deep snow. However, the arrival of a very warm front and heavy rain on Saturday was return to this winter’s usual service, although, for a change, the storm this weekend wasn’t named by the Met Office.
Never deterred by the forecast of high winds and relentless rain, late on Friday Claire H tried to recruit folk to join her for a 5am assault on Na Gruagaichean. I actually thought she was joking but no – she and new member Thomas were off in the early hours. When I collected the meet fees from Thomas on Saturday evening, the bank notes were soaking wet, suggesting they didn’t manage to hit a good weather weather window with such an early start. Thankfully, they were up & down in time for bacon butties.
Martha, Dave T and myself climbed the Corbett Mam na Gualainn on the north side of Loch Leven. Brief cracks in the curtain of rain gave hinted at a fine view down the loch during what was otherwise a head-down push against the weather. Proper west coast weather!
A large group of folk decided the weather better suited a low-level walk up to Blackwater Reservoir, although even this proved an underestimation of the volumes of water falling from the sky. After precariously traversing two burns in spate, they were thwarted by the third, being forced to turn back to the village.
Kenny and Alison headed out to climb a Marilyn near Fort William called Tom Vicodin or something, then explored Fort William. Alan R ran to Fort William, which was reportedly ‘soggy’.
With most folk back at base no later than early afternoon, the rest of the day was occupied by various activities including the climbing wall, watching Grey Mares Tail in spate, visiting teashops and watching rugby.
The only person to brave the elements all day was Doctor Woods, who had a thoroughly enjoyable 8.5 hours doing Glas Bheinn, despite only making it half-way up. Apparently it’s the only time that he has regretted climbing a hill - I think he got a bit too intimate with the bog.
When I collected the meet fees on the Saturday evening I asked the various parties for a quote about their day to fill this report; none were fit for repeating. Several of the young’uns decided they hadn’t had enough of a drenching for one day and walked to the Tailrace Inn for beer, drams and pool.
On the Sunday, many folks decided to head east or simply head home. Martha and I, however, decided to head west and climb Gulvain. This would have been considerably more efficient if my bike hadn’t gotten two punctures by the time we were 2km down the track. However, we persevered and rather enjoyed dramatic views between breaking clag and a surprisingly snowy ridge.
Claire & Neil intended to climb Sgor na h-Ulaidh but apparently were thwarted by a combination of massive sense of humour failure and two raging torrents (I assume the two were related). They opted instead for a Graham and tea and cake in Mhor 84.
Tim continued his Corbett quest by climbing Creach Bheinn. With only a few remaining it must have felt good to tick another one off. What probably didn’t feel so good was getting back home to discover the summit was supposed to have a trig point, not a cairn with footprints around it. Wrong lump Tim, back you go!
Kate and Allan S managed to avoid the rain, sleet and snow by doing the Bracklinn Falls walk near Callander.
All in all, good fun was had. Once again, the good-spirited EMC show that poor weather doesn’t mean a poor meet!