Tom Meadhoin - 621m
Creag Bhreac - 615m
Tuesday 14th February 2017
Weather/Conditions: Lovely spring-like weather, a thin coating of snow on the hills. Strong winds in the morning (hard to stand straight even at road level!) gave way significantly in the afternoon, and these hills were done early
Distance/Ascent/Time: 12.8km / 930m / 3h 25m
I'd had more grand plans to start out with. The line of Corbetts on the south side of the Glen Finnan/Lochailort road were the main objective, but when I woke up I was tired and sore from the previous days rock climbing. The winds were absolutely enormous; I wasn't sure what to do. Knowing it was a strong east wind, I took the more sedentary option of scrubbing a much-neglected crag in Glen Coe; The Bendy. This has a number of lines principally in the E-grades, and the east wind was good for drying out the moss and dirt.
I almost got to the point of looking to lead one of the routes, but without a partner I drove down to the Clachaig. (Some time soon I'll go and climb some lines there!) It was a lovely afternoon at the Clachaig, but there were some hours to go before the night's winter lecture by Dave Anderson of Lochaber Guides. With the wind dying down, why not cram a mountain in now? I'd meant to climb Tom Meadhoin at some point anyway. I couldn't do it without Doire Ban though - I could cram two in.
That was that - decision made.
Parking by Loch Leven, I set off up the rough track. This isn't a well-used track, but it may be historically more significant. Unlike a couple weeks previously, I didn't cut off the track early, but instead went to the track summit, where a cairn marks the highpoint.
Contouring the NE aspect of Tom Meadhoin, I arrived at Doire Ban, a heel of rough ground rising over the Lairig Mor. The light was quickly becoming evening light, I hadn't all the time in the world. There some something desolate in the light this evening; a haziness which made the mountains lifeless and flat. Distant mountains could only be picked out by their summit snowfields, and it reduced them to their purest form. With my northward progress, Ben Nevis appeared out from behind the Mamores, unmistakably massive.
With Doire Ban picked off, I headed south to Tom Meadhoin. This would be the highest summit of my day, a hill in the list of Grahams. After slogging the north ridge, Beinn a' Bheithir and Loch Leven appeared again in front. The haze wiped out so much of the lower slopes, and made the hills into islands in the sky. This sense was only intensified on my trip out to the subsidiary top of Creag Bhreac. I'd debated whether I should with diminishing daylight, but on impulse decided to go for it. It meant longer at height, and I wanted that.
The sun was fizzling out in the western sky, and the hills only seemed to consist of their upper, snow-covered halves. They'd already looked flat and bony - the Lairig Mor earlier had seemed utterly desolate. With the disappearing light, all that was below the snowline disappeared into inconsequence, all that existed in the world consisting of glowing white peaks.
At the same time, I was well aware I had to get down.
I contoured the summit slopes of Tom Meadhoin then continued down to the saddle. On wobbly legs and out of food, I power-walked down the path back to Loch Leven. The headtorch eventually came out in the half-light, and I got a touch tangled in bushes near the bottom. I was eventually spat out at the road only a hundred metres from my car.
Then home, rapidly, for a rushed shower, some quick food and straight off to the Clachaig just in time for the winter lecture.
Not bad timing, all in all.
(0.00) 3.20pm Parking, Loch Leven
(1.17) 4.37pm Doire Ban
(2.05) 5.25pm Tom Meadhoin
(2.17) 5.37pm Creag Bhreac
(3.25) 6.45pm Parking, Loch Leven