Day Tripper

No tents, just a winter day pack. Crivvens.
Tooled up with dangerous items like Kahtoolas, bendy footwear and aluminium ice axes we set off for the Lawers range above Loch Tay.  I haven’t been there for a few years, it always catches a lot of snow, so it looked like a good place for a bimble under completely clear, blue skies.

The wee road up to the Lawers vistor centre was iced solid, so we left the motor at the edge of the forest. Time was getting on ( it really seems that alpines starts are very much in the past…) and as we’d be coming down in the dark, we though better of the “fun” of driving down the open hillside track. It was a good call, because of where we stopped we struck out over open hillside towards the rarely trodden SE ridge of Beinn Ghlas.
Deep soft snow and rough uneven ground made sure we went at a snails pace and we were soon stopping to strip down to baselayers.


I love that. A base layer as an outer layer in winter feels like you’re waiting to be caught, you broke mums favourite vase and she’s going to find out. So enjoy the freedom while it lasts.
The wind picked up after we gained some height and layers were donned again, cuppas and a sit down also seemed like a good idea. The biting wind and exposed ridge meant that Bobinson’s Snowclaw and everybody’s ice axes were digging down into the snow. Cosy.

When we left our snow-loungers, the lowering sun was casting a warming glow as the temperature dropped. We were now well wrappped up as any exposed skin was getting uncomfortably chilled. High whispy clouds started to appear. The snow was changing to a much hard variety. Craig stuck on his aluminium Kahtoola crampons, Helen was kicking in with her proper boots, me and Bobinson found that slicing eding style kicks work for bendy footwear. No problems to report.
We reached the summit ( me last, my fuel tank had marmalade or something in it today) as the sun touched the peaks of the horizon. The sky broke into song. The West was rocK, fire and insistent colour, urgent to make its mark before the sun withdrew its influence for another day. The East was cool purple and blue, mellow jazz with it’s feet up on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

We lingered on the summit as the wind had dropped. It’s so beautiful, so precious to stand there at these moments. There was no one else still high on the mountain, all day we had seen distant figures, skiers, snowboarders and walkers. But all had descended.

The wind slammed into us, with a fierce cold carried in its pockets. We made haste, running at times trying to lose height, spindrift whipping around us like it had just been woken up after dinner and missed its favourite programme on the telly. My fingers became searingly painful in my powerstretch gloves, I’ve never known them to chill so fast. I made fists inside my gloves and carried my poles under my arm as I hopped and slid down the ridge.


Lower down, out of the wind I sneaked my warming fingers back into my gloves and regained some composure. We tightened up out of our broken line and bimbled down together. The ascent conditions still applied and the going was slow, except for the smooth snow slopes where the four of us careered down on our arses with varying degrees of success and grace.

We reached the motor in darkness, warm and with thoughts turning to hot food. What a cracking day.

31 thoughts on “Day Tripper

  1. I’ve been stuck in all day and that’s cheered me right up. Marvellous. And The Boy’s just back from snowboarding at Cairngorm. His happiness is more infectous than the flu’ :o)

  2. Aye, I was clearly dicing with death the entire time with my lethal equipment and high risk attitude. The Icebugs performed admirably in those conditions up until it became too steep to continue, then the lethal Kahtoolas made an easy job of eating up elevation.

    PTC – those pics are awesome. They really capture the amazing colours. You must be psyched with those shots.

  3. Hey guys, it was a smashing day right enough. The ploughing through the crotch deep snow on the way up was a payment given with thanks for the sky and the colours at the top.
    That sudden coldness was just vindictive though.
    Good day for new kit too.

    Craig, I am pleased indeed with the photies. You get the colours and get to keep sensation in your fingers as well. Also, looking at snow shoes…

  4. What a stunning trip. Its at times like this that a winter diversion to the Cairngorms is inevitable – I just need to get off my arse and orgnanise it. Photos are amazing and I wish I had the stamina and guts to bring my DSLR on my trips too. As always Petesy, an inspiring account. Know exactly what you mean about the base layer incident too! Paul and I had a similar epiphany on our last trip too.

  5. Hmm, trip reports like that make me wish I lived a bit closer to Scotland… :)
    Looks like there’d have been enough snow to get the telemark skis out – which I did today for the first time this season, but only indoors at Chill Factor E!

    I stood in WHS and read that Kahtoola Trail guff yesterday – ‘suitable for easy walking on flat terrain…’ – yeah, right! Whilst I’ve gone for the steel rather than alu, my experience with them says those opinions were pish. Shame, I’d expect better from Andy K.

  6. There were guys telemarking today, tracks all over the place. Must have been great fun.

    The mag piece was covered today in great detail! There were three sets of Kahtoola KTS’s and a set of Kahtoola Microspikes out there today, two CAMP Corsas and a CAMP Corsa Nanotech. The footear was Icebugs, Montrail Mids, Keen Growlers (me) and Meindl boots.
    The horror…the horror… :o)

  7. Looks like you had a cracking day oot :-) We’re limited this weekend with the kids

    That crotch deep snow really does give you a work out. I certainly knew I’d been on the hill after Thursday!! Looking forward to next weekend and hoping that we still have some snow to play in

  8. The photos so put me there–even though _here_ is LA where there are only the subtlest of seasons. The high chill air capture in your post does my soul major good.

  9. Hey guys.
    I woke up this morning again to blue skies and a thick covering of frost. It’s magic.
    Although I did wonder what the sunrise would have looked like from the summit…

    Waywest, the changing of the seasons is a joy. In recent years the edges have maybe blurred a bit with mild damp weather being common all year round, bur right now there’s no mistaking it’s winter. Fantastic.

  10. A great trip indeed. I’ve posted some of my photos of the day, on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spikeyhelen/sets/72157610867105804/

    It is tough not bringing the SLR, but I don’t think we’d have made it off in daylight if I’d brought it. Too much faffing. Nothing quite like a point and shoot. Your camera was a good investment. Nice shots.

    I’ve also posted a 360 view of the summit on YouTube: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-OxTu6uPr3g

    Having used the poles for the first time, my knees are remarkably fine today. I’m sure the snow helped a bit, but it was fun being a quadruped for the day.

    Hx

  11. Kate, it’s looking quite well installed up high, so here’s hoping. You coming for a vist, or is it winter skills?

    Bobinson, yes indeed. I now have to discover the world outside of “Intelligent Auto”.

    Hi Helen, that’s magic stuff you’ve put up. Click on the links folks.

    It’s a very grey day today in comparison to yesterday’s rainbow extravaganza.

    Photobucket

  12. Here, I’ve just realised that this far down the page I can stick on bigger photies and it doesn’t interfere with all the nonsense in the other columns.
    Here’s Bobinson and Craig running out of the wind. Don’t let those warm colours fool you, it was bloody freezing.

    Almost

  13. Fantastic!

    Had similiar weather, albeit with almost no snow cover, for our first Mid Wales trip. Perfect night for a summit camp. Had to pummel the Terrocs to loosen the ice before we could squeeze our feet back into them in the morning.

    Very nice place, not nearly lumpy enough for me though. But as per its reputation, no one about…

  14. Aye Shed Dweller, a magic wee day oot.

    Red Yeti, frozen shoes, nightmare! There’s no sensation quite like taking a warm foot out of a sleeping bag and sticking it into a frosty plimsole.

    Johnny, it’s because it’s the best of gear! The camera was an urgent one, I was watching a few trying to make up my mind when the lens jammed on my wee Nikon. So the 24mm lens swung it for the LX3, narrowly over lots of others. We shall see how we get on together.

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