To my mind, some hills are just crying out to be done in full winter conditions, and the one at the top of my list of "yet to do" was Beinn an Lochain, just off the Rest and Be Thankfull road in Argyle. I had this thought in mind last autumn and for preparation , I climbed to its summit, to give me some idea of what may be involved. I was impressed by its rocky ridge and, at times, narrow exposed path. It is just short of 3000ft high and was originally a Munro (hill of 3000ft or higher) until modern measurement technology shrank it a bit.
I made arrangements with a co worker to attempt the winter ascent on Sunday. I was a bit hesitant as the weather forecast was for rain on the lower slopes and possible whiteout conditions above 2000ft. Its not a mountain to get caught out in whiteout conditions as there are steep drops all around the route, but as winter is almost over, we decided it was possibly our last chance at the route before the snows disappeared for another year. I just hoped the possible whiteout conditions wouldn't mean it was my last chance ..end of story.
We parked in the lay by off the A82 at the start of the ridge walk. It was 9am and although the clouds where heavy looking and low, at least it wasn't raining yet. The snow was at road level although it was sparse and wet. The burn was easily crossed by the stepping stones as the water level was relatively low considering the recent weather.
It was a bit wet underfoot in the lower sections of the route. The snow hid the boggy holes which I found when my weight pushed through the white surface into the dark peaty water below.
Beinn an Lochain is a steep ascent right from the start and soon the views over loch Restil started to open up under the swirling snow laden clouds.
A sudden splash of sun broke through a narrow hole in the clouds behind us and brightly illuminated the slopes to the west of Glen Kinglas
Ahead, the ridge steepened considerably and the ground got drier as bog and moorland gave way to rock.
Surprisingly, the cloud level also got higher as we climbed higher. We stopped for a brief rest to admire the views when we reached the start of the main ridge
Sheer drops were now obvious on the left hand side of the ridge.
Loch Restil looked a long way down, yet I knew the steep climb was only starting. Although it was cold, it didn't feel much below freezing. The snow was getting deeper but it was still quite soft. I wondered about avalanches on the steeper slopes......