The Scottish weather defeats me, with a slight lull for the Bridge of Orchy.

Climber on Beinn an Dothaidh summit
Me on Beinn an Dothaidh summit

An early start was necessary before the weather closed inĀ (Munros Completed : Beinn Dorain (50), Beinn an Dothaidh (51)).


Beinn an Dothaidh & Beinn Dorain

As planned I started early in the morning starting the walk in the dark at 07:30. It was a fairly easy walk up to the col ridge from the Bridge of Orchy station but as it became light around 08:15 it became clear that there was 100% cloud cover albeit it very high at around 800m. I reached the col around 09:00 which is at 750 m, and entered the cloud base though was encouraged that visibility was still around 200m. There was no wind which was a blessing though the walk up to the first waypoint before Beinn Dorain was icy in a lot of places, mixed with soft snow. It was hard going until 1km further on, where the snow and ice thickened & it became necessary for crampons. I speeded up for the last part reaching the summit of Beinn Dorain at 10:15 am.

Visibility was down to about 50m, though the ridge is broad & the walking easy going. I returned to the col in enough time to start the route to Beinn an Dothaidh where the first 300m was steep with deep snow. At the top the wind was whipping across this broad ridge meaning that the snow had frozen to form a hard surface layer of ice.

Beinn an Dothaidh summit
Beinn an Dothaidh summit

By now it had become considerably colder but with this hard iced surface I was able to cover the ground quickly and it wasn’t long before I reached the second top. The forecast was unnervingly accurate as no sooner that I had turned around the weather started to close in with the cloud thickening and snow falling reducing visibility to about 50m. Hurrying on back down to the col and then retracing my steps back down to the Bridge of Orchy station, I was able to complete the route just before the rain and sleet really started to become very heavy. It had been a good decision to start so early.

The weather had totally dominated the plans for this trip and although such weather is expected for Scotland, this had been by far the worst I had experienced. It wasn’t surprising to learn later on that this was the stormiest Dec in Scotland for 82 years!