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Friday 17th 12 2010 10:41:08 PM

Pictures and words by Andy Main


On a crisp, cold day we drove over to the head of Loch Maree and parked up. With the first hints of dawn rose-tinting the sky, the surrounding peaks and the dusting of powder at our feet we knew it was going to be a good day. A deceptively long walk along the shores of Loch Maree lead us to a picturesque old pier in the bay formed by the out flow of the Gleann Bianasdail and the first chance to contemplate our objective for the day.
As we trudged up the banks of the burn, through progressively deeper snow we managed to lose the hint of a path we were following and floundered in the now knee-deep powder.

We were grateful when we sighted another party and ploughed our way upwards, picking up their trench like path. With the way becoming easier we made good progress and ate our lunch perched atop the ridge of Meall Each while considering the face of Beinn a Mhuinidh opposite and the routes it appeared to offer.

After our picnic, we continued upwards and soon reached the first top of Sgurr Dubh to be treated to our first view of the vastness of the NW plastered with snow the like of which we had never seen before.

We continued on the ridge with Calum apprehensively approaching the saddle and steepness up to the summit. With some encouragement we made it and were soon sat atop the summit post enjoying our second lunch.

The adventure was far from over though, as the most exposed part of the ridge was still to come.

Wild-eyed, Calum overcame his fears and negotiated the knife edge. As we reached the last sub-peak of Sgurr an Tuill Bhain, we floundered again despite the tracks kindly laid by our friends ahead. Never had I wished more for a snow board or pair of planks as we swam down the face making furrows and burrows in the chest-deep powder.


As we descended, we lost the light; the trail and the world froze around us. We pushed our weary bodies onwards to the banks of the loch and, finally catching the party in front, we thanked them profusely for their days work and sped onwards. Fire to match the cold, food piled high as the summits, and rest to counter the days exertion, awaited.

Slioch had been ascended and we could not want for more.

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