Sunday, May 25, 2014

Celtman Recce Weekend Part 3 - The Run

The day dawned loudly and gloomily for our run with guls and clouds passing over the tent but at least they were passing over, meaning that the plague of midges that descended the day before were well and truly seen-off.

We scoffed breakfast and loaded the car up to set off, pausing for a second fill of food en route.  
Goji hobnobbing with the renegade tourists who forget their roofs in Scotland!

By the time we arrived at the Beinne Eighe car park we'd driven through several rain showers and eaten more cake.  We set off in something approaching partial sunshine but then began to ascend into the cloud, finally disappearing from the view of the road at about 250 m elevation.  What was promising about the day was the ease with which we had made it so far.

The first call of duty was to check out the butties I had made to see how digestible they are.  This is, after all, going to be roughly dinner (yes evening-meal) time by the time I get there.  Turns out beef and mustard on brown is quite digestible when I'm really hungry.

The path wound its way up the side of the mountain and with minor checks of the compass / map / distance we made it to the first trig.  Unlike on race day, where safety counts, we diverged right to summit Beinn Eighe and raise our arms in a muted woo hoo.

Then on with business.  We followed the (obvious once you've checked the bearing) path out across the ridge line, now completely obscured by passing cloud.  My next bearing was an obvious saddle.  I was starting to wonder why the distances I had marked up on the map were "out" until I realised I'd marked them in metres and my Garmin was counting miles.

Up the other side of the saddle on a grassy slope, the compass again leading us directly past a group of Scouts trudging through the fog the other way.

We had a short debate at the cairn about whether it really was the Cairn to Ruadh-stac Mor or whether we should continue.  The voices we heard over the breeze and deafening fog confirmed our expectations that it was time to go out that way.

We set off down past our eventual descent route but first continued up of a number of rock bluffs to reach the anti-climax that is Rudha-stac Mor in the cloud.  There's only one thing to do in that situation  and that's eat cake and take the inevitable selfie then we retreated after a brief conversation with walkers about Gary and the Incheril hostel (memories of my last Beinn Eighe expedition with Steve Astley, Mike and Stuart).
It's Rhuda-stac Mohr, honest

The screes, for the first time ever in my life, were fun.  I managed to glissade down those in a mixture of standing and sitting in no time at all, popping out at the bottom with enough time to empty my trainers of grit and re-tie my shoe laces whilst I waited for Mr Rodgers to catch me up.  He had been diligently checking out the non-scree route which might be a safer alternative if there's a lot of other athletes on the the descent.*

*there's unlikely to be any other athletes on the descent by the time I get there.

The downside to being a water baby is I was overcome with a compulsion to take a dip in the aptly named Loch Coire Mhic Fearchair.  Despite the clouds swirling around the base of triple buttress, today was no exception.  I refrained though. I very much doubt I will be overcome by such urges on race day having already taken a dip first thing in the morning.

We launched ourselves full flow into the circumnavigation of the remainder of the hill, first checking out the turn-off point for the low route which I hope not to be doing, then waiting tentatively to see the appearance of the road, signalling the end of our day.  Beinn Eighe doesn't like to give much away and we severely started to doubt our route-finding.  I must remember this on race day - that view of the road is a long time coming!

We discovered that my support runner was going to need different shoes if he is to survive the run without stopping to put blister plasters on.  Fuelled by pork pie and the thought of mini cheddars and cookies back at the car, we descended to the bikes and the car, safely waiting by.  A lovely time in the hills with a lot of time checking the compass bearings in the mist and messing about with route options.

The worst thing we did was jump straight in the car and set off to drive all the way to Fort Augustus.  We stopped there in the hostel there to sleep.  Whilst it gave us the benefit of sleeping in a building, an easy hot shower and cooked breakfast in the morning, it also gave me sore legs for the drive home, most of which I spent wanting to knock off another Munro on the way.  Can't all have been bad then.

It's going to be difficult to keep me off the hills the week before the event.  It's a lesson I learned at Grizedale but not necessarily a skill I have acquired or can promise to apply, even if I master it.

Run stats: 7.4 miles, 6 hours on the hill but an unknown quantity stopped to faff and eat, 1100m climbing.


Anonymous said...

Hi. A really good and interesting recce which is good for me as I won't be going up in advance. Not long to go now!! Eek. Matt

Trepid Explorer said...

Glad it helped. If it looks like we're in for a cloud-ridden day, those compass bearings marked on the map really helped to reassure. See you there!

Anonymous said...

Up next week for a peek, after the snow (!!!!) this weekend. See ya at t start