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>Report on Arran in the snowArray
12 January 2008   (3236 views)

Dorothy's report on Goatfell

With the promise of excellent winter walking conditions, I was easily talked into heading off to Arran on the 7 o?clock ferry with Irene, Mark and Michael. The guys had decided on Cioch na h?Oighe so waved goodbye and jumped on the bus at the port. Irene and I wanted to stop off at the Co-op to have a look for the Geocache that was hidden there. So there we were at eight in the morning and still dark, searching round the skips and trolley parks like a couple of scavengers, but lo and behold we found it then continued happily on our way to Goatfell.
We followed the well-trodden path at a nice easy pace as we were enjoying a blether and stopping regularly to enjoy the terrific views as the sun came out. Once we got over the 1500 feet mark the snow underfoot was quite solid and slippy so we decided it was time to put on the crampons. It took a while to get used to walking in them as it was over a year since either of us had used them. Due to the thick snow we could no longer see the path so we followed crampon prints from a previous walker.
Just before the final pull we decided to stop for a quick snack, there was nowhere to sit so we didn?t wait long. Re-energized we set about tackling the last wee tricky bit. About ten minutes later we reached the summit and within seconds were rewarded with the most fantastic cloud inversion. This view made it worth the early start. We took as many photos as we could, it was absolutely breathtaking ? even Irene was lost for words and couldn?t speak to Michael who was on the phone to her at that point.
As the inversion cleared we set off to re-trace our tracks back down the hill. Again we were glad to follow the crampon man, especially at the tricky, zig zag bit. This bit gave me a chance to talk, as Irene was too busy concentrating. We were so deep in conversation that we missed the split in the path and carried on towards Corrie. After about ten minutes Irene realised this so we decided to cut across the hill to join the right path. Alas this did not happen and we seemed to walk too far, so we took a bearing and decided to follow the GPS. At this point we were in thick mist and the next half hour is a blur as GPS sent us in circles, we have no idea what happened but it was going haywire. Eventually we put on the second GPS and it gave totally different readings. We followed this and within minutes were back on the path. We had a laugh and carried on downwards. Within about thirty minutes Mark and Michael caught up with us and regaled us with their exciting day (but that?s another story and will be in their report). It was now getting dark and Irene was delighted to able to use her new head torch to guide us down to the road. Back on the road we headed back to Brodick and that last mile and a half felt like a ten mile trek. Mac?s Bar was a welcome sight and we all had a well-earned drink before catching the 7:20 ferry home. We were all shattered on the ferry but agreed that we had had a great day.

Mark's report on Cioch na h-Oighe

It was an early and dark winter start to catch the 7.00 am ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick - Dorothy, Irene, Michael & Mark were on their way ? and an opportunity lay ahead to make good use of all that expensive ........

Report continues below

Irene and Dotty
3 beinns
the view
on the ferry
after his beauty sleep
cloudy hills
tomato soup explosion

Photos: Dorothy, Michael and Mark

Continued from above

..... winter gear that had been purchased over the years!
Michael and Mark caught the bus to Sannox in order to make an assault on Cioch na h-Oighe ? with the intention of meeting up with Dorothy and Irene at the top of Goat Fell. Low cloud obscured the views, but as soon as we set off this started to break-up, and the rising sun glinted off the snow covered peaks in the distance at the top of Glen Sannox (I hope you can picture the scene!).
It was the usual slog up the lower slopes of Cioch na h-Oighe until we reached the path that allows a rapid ascent of the side of the mountain ? once on this path we started to encounter ice and snow ? and Michael now developed an uncanny skill of picking out ?not the usual route? as we scrambled up ice covered rock faces (which resulted in very cold hands and fingers!). It was a long and exhausting haul to the top ? but the views had now started to open up and we were rewarded with the sight of snow-capped peaks in Argyll peeping up from a cloud inversion.
Once at the top we were able to stop to admire the views and have a bite to eat - one of the party did have a little accident with exploding soup at this point!
Energy replenished, we set off refreshed towards the ridge ahead that was dipping in and out of swirling mist/cloud. No other footprints in the snow as we made our way carefully along the path ? taking care and taking in the views as we made our way along to North Goat Fell ? taking it in turns to cut steps in the snow as we went ? pretty exhausting work! Another breather and news (via mobile technology) that the girls had reached the summit of Goat Fell.
The clouds now began to descend and our visibility was reduced as we made our way along steep slopes towards Stacach ridge and Goat Fell ? time for the crampons.
We descended a little onto steep slopes to try and avoid the crags of the ridge ? it was a this point that Michael executed a flawless ice axe arrest as he slid about 40 feet down the side of the mountain ? very impressive from where I was standing (just glad it wasn?t me)!
Once we ?regrouped? we headed back up to the ridge for an interesting/tough scramble across the top and then up towards Goat Fell.
Visibility was non-existent when we reached the top of Goat Fell ? however we knew the girls had been there as we could see the word ?Craggy? etched out in the snow beside the triangulation pillar.
No time to waste as it was past 3 o?clock ? we started to make a rapid descent of Goat Fell via the tourist path. We thought we could make the 4.40 pm sailing back if we ?pushed the pace? ? was this Craggy?s version of SAS selection? ? when we cleared the snowline Michael suggested that we should make up time by running ? which I meekly agreed to ? boy were my legs and knees starting to feel the pace.
Time was against us, and as we rounded a corner we bumped into Irene and Dorothy, who thankfully assured us that there was no need to rush as there was ?no way we were going to make the boat?. So we continued on the long walk back to Brodick at a more sedate pace!
Back in Brodick we found the pub, a warming fire and something to eat - the time just disappeared as we waited for the next boat.
A great day out ? more mountaineering than hill walking!!!

Dorothy and Mark

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