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After crossing a snowy Drumochter pass, Carn Glas-choire (9A) climbed in a near-blizzard Xmas morning. No access problems encountered at Auchtertang but footprints in the snow suggest occupant may have given chase for a bit.
Across a snowy Slochd, Stac Gorm (9B) is a great little hill, thigh-deep snow drifts notwithstanding. Boxing Day sortie into Farrar - careful drive along ice-covered road; glad of ice axe for SW end of brutally steep Beinn na Muice (12A); what a great summit ridge. Three Marilyns to its west fill the rest of the day; back at the car the road seems ice-free so I drive back quite casually - until on arrival back at the gate I step out of the car and fall flat on my back ... a wonder the car didn't end up in the ditch.
Back o' Ratagan, the two Grahams Beinn Clachach and Druim Fada (10A) provide a fine route despite deep soft snow. As I return dripping to Corran an old guy remarks - inexplicably - on what odd things some folk get up to in their spare time. Beinn a'Chapuill (10A) is every bit as interesting as the map suggests. Unable to face re-traversing the long E ridge I try my luck with the steep N face. I make a good start with a bumslide on steep soft snow, then as I'm verging on being crag-fast, two sheep gallantly lead me through the worst of the crags to safety. They won't give me their names, but please deal kindly with any sheep you should meet there. Sitting at the foot of Beinn a'Chaonich, I'm questioned by a farmer in a Land Rover - 'Are you going to the bothy.... No?...' Pressed, I have to confess I'm heading up the hill 'at this time of day?' (it's an hour before sunset). He shakes his head sagely and directs me across the pasture to the unpromising slopes beyond. Another day's end finds me atop Beinn Conchra (12A), looking west to where Eigg is silhouetted against a salmon sky and the Red Cuillin and Trotternish hills show white against an inky blackness.
Carn na Breabaig (12B) at the end of Glen Elchaig promises an easy bag when the ever-obliging Willie at Killilan includes a mountain bike in the price of a bednight. In the event, black ice on the private road through the glen leads to a couple of unscheduled bumslides.
Two of 1999's best hills are reserved for one of its worst days - Meall nan Eun and Slat Bheinn (10B) from Kinloch Hourn. The latter appears impossibly steep from OS33 but is climbable from most directions, with a west ridge which holds level before suddenly spiralling down glenwards. The River Barrisdale is swollen with a day's rain - I cross at an alder tree, but the current takes my legs, the branch I'm clinging to breaks, and I take a cold bath.
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