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Monday, 29 August 2016

The 2015 Challenge, day 5: Killin to Fortingall (14)

By the time I reached the little summit cairn of Creag an Fhithich, to add to all my other worries, I was also definitely falling behind schedule. I carried on to the lowest point, before the ascent of An Stuc began, and I reviewed my situation.

I was falling behind schedule, and I was fatigued. I was running low on water. I had ahead of me a Munro I had never attempted before, with a tricky technical descent, which might have a snowfield on it, and which I should have to attempt in poor visibility, with a cross-wind, carrying an expedition pack. It didnt' seem sensible, and if there was any way to avoid it, I thought I should take it. Retreating back over Ben Lawers did not seem like a good plan. I would never make it from there round to Fortingall. I needed some other alternative.

The map shows no viable escape routes from the pass between Creag an Fhithich and An Stuc; but on the ground there was an unmistakable, well-trodden path heading off to my right. This was no mere goat track. It was a definite, trodden, walkers' path. But where could it lead? It wasn't shown on the map; but even the most cursory glance at the map provided the answer. There was only one place it COULD lead - which was down to Lochan nan Cat. This was presumably a continuation of the path up the Lawers Burn, allowing access to An Stuc without the need to undertake that difficult technical scramble on the far side. And if people came up it ... I could go down it.

So, with a certain amount of regret that I was going to miss out another three of my Munros, but confident that I was taking the right decision for the right reasons, I decided to bale out and take this escape route down to Lochan nan Cat, then follow the path down the Lawers Burn, and finish my day on the roads round to Fortingall.

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