It has been a long winter this year which has been frustrating when trying to plan some big early year days out on the hills. On the flip side it has also offered opportunities to sample our hills when they look their best. The Tarmachan Ridge is a fine walk in any season but to have a chance to walk in it relatively benign winter conditions in deep snow certainly laid on fun challenge.
This was supposed to be the first club Meetup walk but unfortunately the winter conditions meant that the new faces that had shown an interest were not able to come along. In their place a trio of well known faces to joined me for the traverse of the ridge.
Steve, Kenny and I met up with David C at the Ben Lawers car park and were quickly on our our way up the path up to Meall nan Tarmachan. It is normally a fairly steady path up to the main hill of the day but the snow line was slow and because of the milder weather recently we were walking through some very soft snow. This was to continue for most for the day.
We popped over the first top and then dropped to the bottom of Can Chreag which is the start of a fairly steep pull up to Meal nan Tarmachan. The snow conditions up front convinced us to put on our crampons for the climb up. The normal route to the summit is to follow the path to the north and then turn back up to the cairn. However with the snow condition Steve led us up a very steep shortcut the allowed us to pop our heads up right at the top.
From the top its just normally just a lovely walk along the ridge over Meall Garbh to Beinn na Eachan and then drop down Coire Fionn-Lairige to find a track from the quarry. The snow conditions meant that the going was steady and where there was significant drifting we had to scale some steep slopes to find the best routes to the tops.
The views across the ridge were fleeting due to the waves of cloud and snow passing through but what we did see was definitely worth the trip out.
After the ridge it was just a job of dropping to the beallach and then turning south to find the old quarry and then onto the landrover track.
If it hadn’t been for the deep wet snow that we had to trudge through then it would have been easy. The landrover track has accumulated some deep driting snow over the past months so we tried to stay on the heather at the side of where we thought the track was. In the process David and I both managed to end up to our waists in snow having fallen through sorft snow into burns.
We made it back after about 5.5hrs on the hill. It demonstrated that a winters day, although great fun, demands additional time compared to the same walk in the other seasons. All in it was a fine walk with great company – hopefully we will have a few more like that this year.