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Your coldest day?

Your coldest day?

Postby litljortindan » Sat Dec 26, 2020 2:06 pm

Wondering what folks' coldest hill days have been.

I haven't done a lot of winter walking but three exceptionally cold days that stand out:

Ben Mor Coigach: didn't feel the cold too much during the walk but at the start I was caught out with only having light trousers on one of the two coldest mornings I've experienced. I got an ache in my knee afterwards that lasted for months though the GP said its unlikely to have been related. I'm not so sure though.

Glas Bheinn Mhor on Skye: on this walk no problems for the first half but it was the tail end of the beast from the east and forecast minus fifteen windchill. With my right glove off to take photos my hand was numb in a couple of seconds each time. I've had problems since then that I associate with that day but, again, the GP said not likely related. Now if it is a bit cold my right hand feels really cold and my left hand reasonably warm. At the summit I was aware that I was slowing down mentally. I did recover form that though, I'd like to think.

Glas Maol: pre-dawn and half way up I got really cold despite five layers of clothing and two pairs of trousers. Forecast was for minus six but it was definitely the coldest my torso ever felt on a hill. Wind felt like it was going right through me.
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby JonetCol » Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:11 pm

Had some really cold outings in the Cairngorms and can remember standing on a bridge while the Tweed froze below, but the coldest I've felt was way south in the Peak District. I'd been out for a bimble in the Bakewell area with no problems. After a few hours back at the cottage, I tried to get the dog out for her last walk at about 11pm. I was shocked to open the door to an icy blast and saw frost everywhere. It was so cold the dog was reluctant to venture out - most unusual for her. She eventually came out, but after a very short while it was clear she wanted to be back indoors.

I was reasonably well wrapped up, but my hands were numb and felt as if someone had hammered nails into my cheekbones. I dread to think wat it would have been like camping.

The next morning was very cold early on, but the worst of the frost cleared by midday under a bright sun.
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:34 pm

Your Glas Bhein Mhor story mirrors my experience pretty well exactly - it's the wind wot does it!

The subjectively coldest day I can remember was .... south of the border! .... walking a Skiddaw round in February.
The Met Office forecast was for - 6 degrees, "feels like" temperature taking account of the wind, - 15 degrees.
Well, I've experienced temperatures a fair bit lower than that with no wind ( - 18 at least), and it didn't feel anywhere near as cold as that day: towards the end of the walk I'd couldn't feel my face at all, in spite of shielding it from the wind with my hands.

But I reckon folk with have experienced much more dramatic stuff in the Cairngorms....
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby CharlesT » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:11 pm

Minus 30°c in a Minneapolis car park, but I suppose that doesn't count. :D
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:43 pm

Argentina in 2011 - I’ve walked in down to -20 in Scotland, but getting up and going outside the tent on the Argentina summit days felt on a different level.

Curiously it was also the trip on which I experienced hottest temperatures I’ve experienced, 44 celsius.

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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby Mal Grey » Sat Dec 26, 2020 10:19 pm

On the hill, the coldest days I have had have been wonderful, still days when the snow is firm and the ice plentiful. Not once have I felt cold on those days, though many have been well below freezing point.
The coldest I've felt have been those days where the snow is really sleet, blowing wetly into your face, the temperature hovering a few degrees above freezing, and the wind howling.

Glen Pean, my first winter bothy, was one of the coldest experiences of my life. It was -15c in the glen outside, and the sealed western end was full, so 3 of us huddled in the old "barn" like east end (I believe that's been improved) in front of a truly poor fire, with our mini bottles of wine shoved down our trousers to try and warm them enough to drink! :lol:
Lairig Leacach was another cold bothy, the floor didn't melt until our second night there, despite the stove, when we finally got the room to 4 decrees C, at which point the mice came out. Had the gear then, so we weren't cold. Well, not too cold.

The coldest I've ever been on a mountain was, ironically, in Morocco on a night-time ascent of Jbel Toubkal in September 2002. It was about -15c and the only time I've walked uphill on a mountain whilst wearing a down jacket. As soon as the sun rose, over the Sahara, the heat rose rapidly on the summit. By the time we got down to the valley in the afternoon, it was +32c.

The coldest my feet have ever been was after a wash in the stream by Bearnais Bothy one winter. Flippin' heck,, that hurt as the blood returned once inside in front of the stove.
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby arjh » Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:07 am

Dun da Ghaoithe, a Corbett on Mull, January 2016. The name means 'fort of the two winds' and both of them were blowing full pelt that day... absolutely baltic. Had a similar experience on the Blackhope round above Moffat two winters ago, searingly cold winds on Hart Fell.

Coldest night out was a wild camp in one of the eastern corries of Beinn Bhan near Applecross (Coire an Fhamair) - brought my smaller sleeping bag to save space - never again...
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby apollo0815 » Sun Dec 27, 2020 3:10 am

The coldest feeling ever was during an exercise with the german army in Baumholder army training ground.
It wasn't that cold at all, 5 degrees celsius, but paired with heavy winds and a slight, but constant drizzle.
We went to the first shooting range at 3 a.m. and spent nearly 24 hours outside, constant weather, with a lot of waiting an standing around.
When we came in again next day at 2.a.m. even with a shower and slipping into bed,l I did not really get warm for hours.
I have never again felt so cold. My joints(19 years old back then) were literally creaking.
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby Giant Stoneater » Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:27 am

Stayed in Glen Pean bothy,done the 2 Corryhully Munros,caught in a whiteout,descending in the dark back to bothy, then river crossing in the dark and to end on a fine note it was -15 in the bothy.
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:14 am

A stay in the old Crossburn Bothy in the Galloway Hills, when our breath formed a mist inside the hut, then froze and drifted down as tiny snow flakes. A night in Bob Scott's in the Cairngorms, Jan or Feb 1988 with a crappy sleeping bag, when my feet were cold and numb up to my knees, I scurried about picking up firewood then had to return to the bothy to burn it to keep warm, then out for more again. Katabatic wind was blowing straight down, blasting the snow away and turning the ground as hard as iron. I heard it was below -22 degrees centigrade, plus the windchill factor so I don't know how cold it felt in minus degrees, but expletives need to be used to describe it. Ice climbing in the Cairngorms, we expect to be cold, but dossing under rocks and in the backs of vehicles in Glen Coe using crampons for pillows is extra specially cold and miserable. The Sinclair Hut, now thankfully removed, sat in the teeth of the wind-tunnel that is the Lairig Ghru. It had a concrete floor and stone walls; it resembled a municipal public toilet block and had a couple of inches of ice on the floor when I got there in mid winter. That was a grim doss. Also the old bunkhouse at Achintee farm at the foot of the Ben, without heating in midwinter; that was grim. And a time up the Ben itself, when I could feel the wind cutting through my many layers of clothing right to my skin, making me feel as if I was naked in the blast, and the ice crystals grew out of the gravel like toadstools. A good fire in the bothy is a godsend in these circumstances.

Scotties Katabatic blast#2Rrr.jpg
Katabatic wind blasting the ground outside Bob Scott's.

Sinclair Hut, Lairig Ghru.

Bob Scotts Icicles#R.jpg
Bob Scott's icicles.

Bothy Fire
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby CharlesT » Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:53 am

Probably not my coldest day but we stayed at the Langdale camp site for New Year 1962/63 in an old eight man army bell tent. I was with the owner of same and we persuaded another pair of idiots to join us. That was the start of the coldest winter for 200 years and I can recall keeping a gas stove alight in the tent to stop us succumbing to hypothermia. How we didn't succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning is a mystery, maybe the tepee shape of the tent and the roof vent saved us. It was seriously cold and no-one got much sleep. One memory is of finding the breakfast eggs frozen solid in their box inside the tent.

We had on old minivan in those days, which I can recall got us through piled up snow and icy roads without incident. Oh to be young. And the ice climbing was great that year, even if the kit was dodgy and downright dangerous. Still have my wooden hafted Simond Special D ice axe from then, all of 30 bob secondhand.(That's £1.50 in new money). Happy days. :lol:
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Dec 27, 2020 4:35 pm

CharlesT wrote:... And the ice climbing was great that year, even if the kit was dodgy and downright dangerous. Still have my wooden hafted Simond Special D ice axe from then, all of 30 bob secondhand.(That's £1.50 in new money). Happy days. :lol:

I have an excellent old wooden alpenstock, much longer than any modern ice axe available today, but after hearing Hamish MacInnes describing how, after the development of the all-metal ice axe, deaths and injuries from ice axe breakages dwindled to nothing, whereas they used to make up a sizeable proportion of rescue team call-outs, I'll just use it as a glorified walking stick on gentler slopes.
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby denfinella » Mon Dec 28, 2020 2:09 am

My coldest day in Scotland also happened to be my first ever day in Scotland, in January 2011.

I came up from England for just a few days, visiting my partner who was studying at Aberdeen Uni. Time was scarce (I was also fitting the trip in between my own university commitments), and we therefore only had a single day to get away from lectures and classes. As a keen (English, summer) walker and occasional Alpine skier I persuaded him to go exploring up Deeside. He was more of a city person at that point, and the furthest he'd been in Scotland before that was the obligatory student trip to Stonehaven by train.

It was a perfect winter's day with fresh snow on the ground and sunshine overhead, and bitterly cold. First we stopped at the Falls of Feugh outside Banchory, where the car thermometer read -10°C and my hands were numb inside my inadequate "fine-for-London" gloves. The car park was full of light powder snow and we nearly got stuck - having never driven on snow before.

Next we visited the Burn o' Vat, where the waterfall had frozen, there were spectacular icicles hanging from the rocky walls and amazing ice sculptures on the floor formed by water droplets freezing as they hit the ground - one looked exactly like a tortoise.

After that we stopped at Cambus o' May. I remember standing in the middle of the bridge gawping at the wide River Dee, which was not only completely frozen but the ice and snow was so thick it looked like there were icebergs on it.

Following a quick stop in Braemar, we finished the day with a drive up to Glenshee Ski Centre, which was enjoying the sort of conditions which only come around once or twice a season. There was so much consolidated snow that Carn Aosda had developed decent-sized moguls. Sadly it wasn't worth buying a lift ticket for the last hour of the day, but I was sorely tempted!

(We then drove back to Aberdeen via the "scenic" Perthshire side of the pass, which was a massive waste of time and petrol as it was pretty much dark by that time :lol: )

I came away from that day with a totally romanticised and inaccurate perception of what Scotland was like, but it made me fall in love with the country. As soon as I graduated I moved to Aberdeen and we've been in Scotland ever since.
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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby Tringa » Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:51 am

One April quite a few years ago in Torridon.

Me and daughter decided to do a walk into the Beinn Eighe corrie.

It was sleeting in the car park but that cleared quickly. The walk up was large good with the odd couple of minutes of wettish snow which became more solid closer to the corrie After lunch in the corrie and ambling about for a bit we headed back down.

In a short time the temperature had dropped and the snow we crunched through on the way up was starting to ice up, it was snowing more but the strong wind coming up between Liathach and Beinn Eighe was straight in our faces and bitter.

Fortunately only a short exposure but it was cold.

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Re: Your coldest day?

Postby maxie23 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 4:52 pm

The coldest day for me was on Auchnafree hill, next to Ben Chonzie, in January 2017.
There was a North wind on that day and on the top according to my anemometer ( I love gadgets ) it was blowing at a steady 25 mph with occasional gusts up to 40 mph.
I didn't take many photos, I was apprehensive about taking my gloves off.
I remember seeing a story in one of the local papers about a young lad who was on top of Ben Chonzie on the same day and there was a photo of his face with a spot of mild frostbite on one of his cheeks.

In January 2019 I was up An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chroin on separate days.
Both mornings the temperature gauge in the car was showing -7 or -8.
It was a bit breezy up top on both hills, nice if you found a sheltered spot but bitterly cold in the exposed places.

ImageAn Caisteal from Beinn a Chroin by robert irvine, on Flickr

ImageAn Caisteal by robert irvine, on Flickr
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