Loch an Diamh N side – camping in the freezer. February 2010

Date: Saturday-Sunday 20-21 February 2010
Distance: 18km + 10km
Ascent: 1100m + 400m

We had been itching to get out camping again since our Braeriach wild camp. The nights were by now a wee bit shorter and some weather windows are appearing. Camping kit had been poised for weeks.

Up to Tyndrum on the Friday night – surprised to bump into a few acquaintances in Paddy’s Bar – not the only folks glued to the forecasts obviously.

Up on Saturday a bit later than planned – drove round to Loch an Diamh arriving just before 0900. Conditions looked perfect.

The aim was to track along the ridge of hills that form the southern edge of Rannoch Moor, seeing how far we got with heavy packs, and consider coming back round the southern hills of Loch an Diamh.

The Corbett Cam Chreag is a short walk from the car park at NN 512 464. Started up the track at the car park and turned R at the top, following the track for about 1km before breaking over open hillside towards Creagan nan Ghobhar.

Lochan Diamh dam:

Stags:

Very simple ascent up Cam Chreag, dropped the packs at the 800m mark to go out and back to the summit.

The slope:

The view to Stuchd an Lochain:

The hoar frost/rime ice formed a thin layer with little substance, underneath this was harder snow – a nice easy walk.

The surface was also holding tracks very well – lots of hare and ptarmigan. It’s one of the real delights of winter seeing the tracks of so much of the wildlife that has preceded you.

Wondered if this was a lek – lots of individuals landing around this with a middle bit full of footprints and some wing imprints:

The summit is a great viewpoint – fine views of Meall Buidhe, with a vista to the north from Ben Nevis to Beinn a Ghlo.

Ben Nevis:

The Cairngorms (and our last wild-camp site):

Ben Alder:

From this summit tracked back to the packs and then headed for the Munro. Simple walking to the bealach and then up Meall a’ Phuill.

Nice views back to the Lawers Group:

The cliff line of Meall Buidhe was beautiful:

Once over Meall a’ Phuill we came across our only walkers of the weekend – 3 folks summiting the munro.

It seems a shame not to link these hills – the extra effort is minimal. Both the Loch an Diamh munros seem poorly served by the “trade routes” ignoring as they do neighbouring hills and ridges.

Once on the summit ridge the vista expands – the Mamores, Glen Coe and Blackmount all appear – quite stunning:

Anvil Cloud in front of Glen Coe:

The summit ridge of Meall Buidhe:

Saturday was one of those great winter’s days – still and sunny. Despite the air temp being about -5C the sun and stillness meant it actually felt hot while on the move.

Visibility was excellent – very crisp views.

From the munro we set a course skirting between the 824m top and Meall nan Aighean for Coire Dubh. Beginning to slow a wee bit with the packs.

Hazel bypassing the 824m top:

Hoar frost:

Tracks and sky:

In Coire Dubh we were entertained by a pair of foxes – 2 running away as we descended. We assumed we’d been rumbled but they weren’t paying any attention to us. They stopped about 500m off and proceeded to start tumbling about for a few minutes. Then one drove the other off. Think this was probably courtship but might have been a junior being driven off by mum. The vixen was calling as we left Coire Dubh.

Ascending the S ridge of Meall Cruinn yet another fox was trotting our way, perhaps drawn by the calls or scent of the vixen.

Zoomed fox:

From here skirted the S of Creag Riabhach.Stuchd an Lochain looks a great hill from this side:

At about NN438 470 we had a nice view and we were both flagging – the initial plan had been to climb the Corbett Meall Buidhe and pitch but despite having 100mins to sunset we decided to pitch here.

Displaced a herd of deer:

Now we had harsh winter issues to deal with (combined with our relative inexperience of high winter camping) – we had not seen any running water since leaving the car – everything above 600m was solid. Considered dropping down into Gleann Diamh (could hear water in the river at the bottom. Couldn’t be bothered. In the end settled for melting enough snow for tea on the stove (and boy do you need to melt a lot of the stuff)

Second issue was pegs – despite using titanium pins the ground was almost impenetrable – and couldn’t get a rock loose to use as a hammer. Standing on the pegs got enough in to peg out the noses and 2 guys – not ideally pegged but good enough.

Tent pitch:

Anyway – hot noodle laksa consumed with gusto. The sun set with a few red clouds to show:

Ate the rest of the food in the tent – nice to get warm.

Got up at 2100 – patchy cloud, a half moon and a great view across Rannoch Moor. The car lights on the road were visible creeping across the moor.

Tent:

Across Rannoch Moor – car lights visible:

Moving clouds over Beinn a Chreachain:

After cold posteriors on Braeriach we had invested in Down Mats – brilliant! Very comfy and no cold spots – had the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had in a tent.

Woke up – light building. The view from the S porch looked cloudy.The top of the Corbett Meall Buidhe was clouded. Looked at the watch – 750 – missed dawn. Looked out the N porch – antisolar shadow approaching the horizon. Checked watch again – altimeter mode 750m, time 0715.

Got out to see what dawn would do. In the event quite a nice view of Alpenglow across on Glencoe although our cloudbank blocked dawn light for us.

Pink sky approaching horizon:

Alpenglow on Stob Dearg and Glen Coe:

More light on Stob Dearg:

Like previous cold camps it’s not the being in the tent that’s worst – it’s pitching and striking that really allows the cold to seep in. The wind had got up to about 10-15mph, with air temp -6 or -7C so felt pretty bitter.

Struck the tent for 0900 – we were starting to get some sunshine.

Considered carrying on with the loop walk but the 2 Corbetts and the Munro on the S of Loch an Diamh were in cloud and we weren’t (plus I wasn’t sure we’d make it comfortably with the packs).

Last view from the pitch:

Decided on returning over a few of the wee tops and soaking the views.

Ascended Creag Riabhach.

View from Creag Riabhach:

Hazel on Creag Riabhach:

Creag Riabhach pano:

Link to larger pano:


And then over to Meall Cruinn. Views remained spectacular throughout. Parky in the cold wind though.

Us at the top:

From there we descended SE along the ridge to the prominent outcrop hanging over Loch an Diamh. One Golden Eagle cruised by and up Gleann Diamh.

View from the outcrop to dam:

From there cut back into Coire Chorse and walked/slid down to the loch. Refilled the water reservoirs down at 500m. Nice ice formations:

Another/same eagle was being buzzed by ravens at the crags – the size difference is eye-popping.

The track actually extends all the way to this corrie so easy progress back to the car from here. Nice views to the Lawers group over the dam:

Personally I’d recommend those a loop walk for the munro Meall Buidhe starting with the Corbett Cam Chreag and then continuing to Meall Cruinn and then down and back – a proper day walk with phenomenal views. 8)

Great to get the tent back out, looking forward to more camps soon.

Got a bit carried away with the pics I think. 😳

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