Log 15 May 2010

Ainshval on Rhum (or Rum to the purists)

I was the sole attendee after everyone else dropped out but as Ainshval was one of the 15 unclimbed Corbetts I had left to do, I was not going to let a little thing like climbing it solo prevent me from getting closer to my goal.!

The MMC had been at least twice on Rum, in April 99 when it was so wet we were washed off the hill only a few hundred yards up the slope.   The weather did improve (slightly) that weekend and again in April 2002 when Derek H, Ian McC & I, after climbing Trallval, looked down the very steep slope towards the Bealach an Fhuarain and decided that as we could hardly stand up in the driving wind and rain that it would be wise to retreat via Atlantic Coire and Coire Dubh to a hot shower and leave Ainshval for another time.

So it was with a little trepidation but fine weather that I boarded the new car ferry at midday on Friday to Rhum.   The new ferry has a car ramp you walk down to land on the island.   The old one was much more interesting, you had to jump to a smaller boat to be transferred ashore but an EEC grant had paid for a new ferry and pier.

The new pier is further from the hostel in Kinloch Castle so I was wondering if it was a good idea to have brought so much cider, just in case they were short of a carry-out in the tiny one room shop, however thankfully, this time there was a Castle van to carry your luggage.

Once ensconced in the servants’ quarters, which is now the Castle Hostel, I explored the area around the Castle to look for changes after my 8 years absence.   The shop was still small but now had two large fridges filled with cold drink – Chilled Scrumpy Jack Cider, just what was needed to cool down in the hot afternoon sun.!

After my exploration I adjourned to the bar underneath the Stag’s head with hat & spectacles to await Dinner in the Bistro – things have improved in the 8 years and I enquired who was climbing what of the rest of the occupants.    I talked to David Neilson & his Father-in-law, Roy Miller, who is 76 and is on his final 6 Corbetts.  David has only 11 left and they wanted to climb Ainshval by the same route, avoiding all the intervening hills which they had already climbed.!   We agreed to team up and climb it together.
My wife had been worried I was climbing alone so I was able to put her mind at rest once I had found a spot on the beach where I could get a mobile signal from the distant mainland.!

The next day was fine with some cloud but there was ice in the wind.   We started from Kinloch Castle and climbed into Coire Dubh where we were subjected to a mini hailstorm whilst struggling into waterproofs.   Was this going to be a repeat of my earlier failed attempts.?   We climbed over the rim into Atlantic Corrie and contoured around to Bealach an Oir but now the brief showers were only rain.   It had stopped raining but more importantly the wind was not too strong.   We then contoured around Trollaval to Bealach an Fhuarain.  Ainshval looks impossible to climb from here but if you go right then left, up a scree slope & over the ridge you can climb the east side to the top.

At last, only 14 to go - there should be a good view from the summit but there was a very cold edge to the wind and time was passing.!
So we walked onward along the south ridge and descended down a very steep slope into Glen Dibidil and Dibidil bothy.  The bothy is well maintained with new internal wood panelling & two double sleeping platforms – see photos.  I would advise taking wood etc. in if you want to stay overnight.
We walked out on the “coastal” path however the Rhum weather deteriorated and it started to rain for the next 3 hours.   It was a wet and in places a boggy path back to Kinloch Castle and a warm shower.

The next day I walked to the Mausoleum at Harris on the west side of the island.
It is a surreal sight – a Greek Temple in the centre of a Scottish glen filled with deer, goats & highland cattle.

The Castle and its orchestrion is also a must visit although the more interesting stories of Sir George Bullough, Monique Lily de la Pasture and the secret goings on in the ballroom are now left for you to search the internet.

I left Rhum on the Monday afternoon ferry (there are no Sunday sailings) after a good weekend with fellow climbers to return to Milngavie.

OK. :-)  Only 14 left to go with Creag Uchdag reserved for my final hill but as my previously unclimbed Corbett was climbed nearly a year ago I need to up my new hills rate.!
Report by Allan Carr