In mid-March I was leading for Steven Fallon Mountain Guiding in the Black Mount Hills south of Glen Coe. On Saturday 14th March I led a group up Stob Gabhar near Bridge of Orchy on a mild, murky day, then on Sunday 15th we headed round to the Glen Coe Ski Centre to ascend the popular Munros, Creise and Meall a’ Bhuridh. After an unpromising start, the day turned into a fine late winter day with some excellent snow conditions. You can read my full write-up of the days and see more photos on Steven’s blog here!
With time against me but conditions looking good I decided it would be good to get out west to Assynt and take in the relatively accessible summit of Cul Mor in winter conditions before the thaw sets in at the weekend. There was much more snow around than I expected, the snow line was around 300m on the way across and there was a slow thaw during the day. It was a beautiful morning, but more of a mixed bag in the afternoon.
I took in an anti-clockwise circuit of the summit and Creag nan Calman. There was deep, soft snow on the upper part of the hill and tricky conditions in places crossing boulder fields obscured by snow.
It was a good ascent, with stunning views of Suilven, Canisp and the hills behind Inchnadamph. Part of the way I met another John from Ullapool. It was good to have some company on the way up and I got some good practice higher up breaking trail.
After a nice summit/lunchtime chat we headed different ways and I had to navigate a little to find my way round to and then off Creag nan Calman. There was a brief break in the cloud giving an atmospheric view of Cul Beag.
Picking up the outward route just west of Meallan Diomhain I was lucky to catch some amazing late afternoon winter light, bringing out all the different shades of orange and brown wonderfully and casting long shadows across the land. Unfortunately some drizzle set in about 1km from the car but it wasn’t enough to dampen a great day in Assynt.