Edinburgh Mountaineering Club: Meet Report
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Meet Report

31st December 2003 to 2nd January 2004 - Invergarry Lodge (New Year)

Why is it that almost without fail on Hogmanay the weather goes ballistic, making travelling conditions really difficult for a large gang of people all trying to get away for New Year and have a good time? This New Year was no exception. The weather started to deteriorate badly around 1pm on the 31st with gale force winds blowing any snow onto the roads. I think I was one of the last cars through onto the A889 from Dalwhinnie, where conditions were particularly foul. Albert and Judith weren't that far behind me but had to turn round at Drumochter, drive all the way south to Perth, then go cross country to Crianlarich and thereafter, follow a snow plough all the way through Glencoe. Martin and Gillian arrived at the bunkhouse via Inverness and Bill Brown drove up via Connell. An interesting variety of routes. Miraculously, all 19 of us arrived in one piece and without incident.

2004 arrived quite quietly really. I think everyone was either too tired or bunged up with the cold to create a street party environment. New Year's Day dawned grey, gloomy and not very attractively. Enthusiasm levels were a bit on the low side. However, slowly but surely bags were packed and folk headed off. Some stayed low, doing forest walks, other went cycling which turned out to be a bit dodgy as many of the lesser tracks were very icy, Richard in true style went off in search of Grahams near Loch Arkaig and one little band all trooped off up Ben Tee in the hope of some views.

This was the first time we'd stayed at Invergarry Lodge, a relatively new bunkhouse, and it was definitely a good choice. Very comfortable, well fitted out and in a great location for all sorts of mountain opportunities. That night we had our communal meal, and once again all those who provided the catering had done a fantastic job. From home-made soups to venison pie or a goat's cheese and cranberry pastry plait, followed by all sorts of home-made sweets, it was really excellent - one of the best ever. Judith had decorated the tables with little candles, providing a lovely festive atmosphere and the table groaned under the weight of some very drinkable wines.

Friday was, thankfully, a much better day all round. Although much colder, it was dry and bright with big patches of blue sky forming early on. One or two went off and climbed the Corbett at Fort Augustus, Carn a'Chuilinn; Richard (I'm a complete masochist) Hartland went back to Loch Arkaig with Martin to do yet more Grahams; Anne and Christine almost got benighted in a nearby forest and I climbed a lovely little Graham above Drumnadrochit called Meal Fuar-Mhonaidh. On the way down this very strange man leapt out from behind a rock, saying he was lost and could he follow me down. Interesting, as this hill has a motorway of a path almost all the way from the car park to the summit. Once I pointed out this out (it was impossible to miss it, even with all the snow and ice about), my companion seemed a lot happier!!

There was almost enough communal food for everyone to have a second meal and Kenny provided an excellent quiz later on when the Scots narrowly defeated the English in a nail-biting contest! I have to mention here that although Fiona, through injury, was unable to do a lot out of doors, she more than made up for it indoors, as the undisputed queen of the jigsaw puzzle.

Saturday was ok but as we all found out later on, very windy indeed. Quite a few went home but a hardy little gang stayed on for an extra night. Alison, Kenny and Alison Wells went for Ciste Dhubh at Kintail; Tim and Julie on their debut climb with the club went up Meal Fuar-Mhonaidh and I climbed an extremely windy Biod an Fhithich where at the summit, it was incredibly difficult to stand up straight - I didn't hang about. A good decision really as the weather really closed in in the afternoon.

For a first-time stay at this bunkhouse, we were all very impressed with it - in fact we were so impressed, we booked to go again next new year.