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Beinn a'Bheithir

16 Febraury 2016
A cracking winter's day, hiking up the two Munro summits on the 'Thunderbolt Mountain'. John Walker was leading.

Beinn a'Bheithir, photo 1 Our planned Tuesday ascent of the two munros that constitute Beinn 'a Bhethir, (the splendid ridge above Ballachulish) was wisely moved to the Wednesday in order to avoid 90mph wind and blizzards. What we got was a snowy walk in, followed by swirling cloud and lovely bright intervals, together with fleeting, atmospheric views, a cracking winter's day out.

We met at the car park at the end of Gleann a'Chaolais, just West of the Ballachulish Hotel, and were most happy to be able to follow a Plas Y Brenin group up through the forest, as they kindly broke trail through the deep, fresh snow for us! They headed West as we left the forest, to ascend by the North ridge, and we were on our own then, taking it in turns to break trail up to the high bealach. We could see some small avalanches on the steeper ground, and we spent a while discussing route planning and avalanche awareness, but our route was fine, and we enjoyed the brightness as the snow cleared and we hit the ridge.

Beinn a'Bheithir, photo 2 The route up to our first munro, Sgorr Dearg, 1024m, was a mixture of powder snow, neve and rocks, so it was crampons on and axes out. We chatted to a group who had come up the ridge direct from Ballachulish, and who were completing the full horseshoe, and then plodded on. The summit came with a fleeting glimpse of Loch Leven, and we took a triumphant picture of Julie's first winter munro before heading back the way we came.

After a break at the bealach, it was back up towards Sgorr Dhonuill at 1001m. This has nice rocky ridge, with a slightly narrower section at the final section. There were some fine cornices as we ascended, and the last 5 minutes felt quite Alpine. The sun was bright at the summit, and it would be fair to say Julie found the whole experience most rewarding judging by her tears of joy!! It was a great summit and route for the day mind, so I concur!

Beinn a'Bheithir, photo 21 We came down in high spirits, even having an occasional bum-slide in the snow. The going was heavier lower down however, and there were some tired limbs once we hit the forest trails, but that never wiped the smiles off folks' faces. As I said above, a cracking winter's day out.

More photos are up on Flickr !

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