on the ne ridge of beinn na caillich

Thu, Dec 24, 2009

Christmas Eve, blue skies, barely a breath of wind and the fishing boats on Loch Eishort following leads through the ice to reach harbour. Is this what it’ll be like if the Gulf Stream diverts? It’s been sub-zero for the last week with stunning views in very clear air and snow from sea level to summit in every direction. So I thought it would be a good idea to get out in it for a bimble and the NE ridge of Beinn na Caillich promised some sport at Grade I if it was in nick and not just all powder. You tend to get that these days. Lots of unconsolidated powder snow.

Beinn na Caillich

and on the walk up from the Coire road just outside Broadford, the frost crystals had been growing free and easy, untrammeled by wind

Frost crystals on the heather

and with the consistently low temperatures and lack of wind, it wasn’t looking too good for consolidation and so it proved. Knee deep snow on top of deep heather or slippy granite boulders. It made for very tiring walking but the views were just stunning.

The summit cairn Beinn na Caillich

The giant summit cairn is said to cover the grave of a Norse Princess who took ill on her way to Skye but that’s another story I must tell.

After two and a half hours, without a break too, just stuffing nuts and things into my mouth and gulping water, I finally exited the ridge and its brutal powder and one step up, four down on less than frozen scree and rock under several inches of fluffy powder and popped out of the shade into fantastic sunshine. The Cuillin looking like the volcano they used to be and the islands of Rum, Canna and Muck basking in the Atlantic haze. What a day!

I lingered for half an hour or so, out of the cold NE breeze, baking in the sun and watching a Raven cronk around before trying not to break something on the steep, rocky and snowed up descent as the sun sank behind the hill behind me.

Have a safe and wonderful Christmas and thanks for reading this little blog over the year and making me laugh with your comments. The fire is stoked, it’s calm, still and very very cold outside. It’s not just white, it’s an Arctic Christmas. There are carols on the telly and the moon is bathing the white landscape in a ghostly light. I shall stand outside for a bit with the music of the carols and look at the mountains. Hope they sing Silent Night.

Merry Christmas!

Broadford Bay from Beinn Na Caillich

You can see all the pics here.