Work of the Week: ‘Moon and frozen crag, Beinn an Dothaidh’

32  'Moon and frozen crag, Beinn an Dothaidh', Acrylic & Pastel, 2005

'Moon and frozen crag, Beinn an Dothaidh'

‘Moon and frozen crag, Beinn an Dothaidh’, Acrylic & Pastel, 40 x 91 cm

A few years ago during a particularly cold period in February, Anita and I, along with our more experienced hill walking / climbing friend Guy, went up to Bridge of Orchy to climb Beinn an Dothaidh. This is one of the big hills that rise above Bridge of Orchy and Loch Tulla. The weather was perfect, with clear skies and freezing conditions right down to road level, with snow above about 600m. The plan was very simple, to walk Beinn an Dothaidh by its traditional route …and return the same way.

We put the crampons on quite quickly as there was masses of ice and as we moved higher into the corrie between Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain, conditions under foot became more difficult. It was slow work reaching the beallach but the views of the snow and ice covered hills was well worth all the effort.

In theory, the route from the beallach up to the summit of Beinn an Dothaidh at just over 1000m is a simple one but it involves traversing a steep slope. This slope was covered in fairly thick snow and was catching the full glow of the early afternoon sun. As we started to move onto it, Guy spotted several sun wheels – natural snow balls that indicate instability in the snow …and potential avalanche risk. We stopped, and looking at the lengthy traverse across the slope, decided that it would be prudent to turn back at this point. It didn’t really matter, we’d had a great time and were surrounded by snow and ice and rock …quite amazing. I’m very slow when descending hills and so by the time we were well back down the corrie, the light was starting to fade and the temperature was plummeting again. We’d been concentrating so hard on getting down safely that we hadn’t noticed a full moon rising behind us. When we stopped for a breather and looked back, the moon appeared to be resting on the very edge of the huge ice covered cliffs of Beinn an Dothaidh.

This painting is based on that very cold late February afternoon. It’s just an impression, nothing more and some people see it as the sea …but to me it’ll always bring back the memory of a really great winter day in the Scottish Highlands.

Work presently being exhibited at:

Atholl Gallery
6 Atholl Street
Dunkeld
Perthshire
PH8 0AR
SCOTLAND
Tel:01350 728855

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