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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being stuck

My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being stuck


Postby Mountainlove » Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:36 pm

Route description: Buachaille Etive Mor

Munros included on this walk: Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor)

Date walked: 06/12/2008

Time taken: 3.5 hours

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3 years ago after years of summer climbing, I decided it was about time to give winter hillwalking a go. I have previously only climbed a few Munros solo and the upcoming winter wasn't gonna to stop me from my new found love of solo hillwalking! My approach to everything I do is ...go for it and worry about it afterwards (what can possibly go wrong) Well quite a lof actually as you will soon discover, but when I made my mind up to do something- I am going for it!

Winter walking requires crampons. As my parents always struggle to find presents for me I requested a pair for my birthday. So when my birthday arrived my dad organized a pair and send them in a parcel (I am surprised the post delivered the parcel which by the time was covered in holes from the crampons :lol:
Following the instructions I fitted them to my boots, but I had to wait for another 2 months before the weather was good enough and Glen Coe was covered in snow.

I left home during a beautiful Saturday morning and decided to climb Buachaille Etive Mor. I have climbed the Buachaille quite a few times before hand and was keen to do it in the snow.
Driving along Loch Lomond was lovely until I went around one of the hundred corner and used my brake like many times before. Only that time I didnt realized that I was driving on an area of black ice! I have been driving on snow and ice many times before hand and would say it does not bother me much, but so far I never encountered black ice. When I hit my brakes and the car started to spin and the steering wheel didnt responded to anything anymore it was the worst feeling of helpfulness I have ever experienced. :shock: I remember sitting in my wee car, spinning and feeling just blank when I crashed against the barrier. Luckily I didn't drive fast, but needless to say the sound of the crash and the abrupt halt left me shaking and my knees left like jelly. :roll:

When I realized I was ok and managed to stop shaking, I got out of the car to check it for damage and realized that apart from a big scratch across the front the car seemed ok. A concerned couple in the car behind me (who skidded on the ice as well, but where able to control the car just in time) were concerned about me, but I said I am fine.
I got back into my car and well up there isn't the best place to stop, so I continued driving and decided that because nothing did happen I could just continue my plans. 8)
I continued my drive up north....after all how could I have turned back on a day like that?
It took me a while to stop shaking and don't think I drove faster than 40mph that day, but I managed and just before Rannoch Mor I stopped to say hello to an old friend
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Making friends with the locals on the way-sadly someone shot this stag (well I was told)

When I reached Rannoch Mor and was presented with the most beautiful site I have seen so far.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY!!!
Rannoch mid day panoramic.jpg
Rannoch Mor around noon

I stopped my car next to the road and took some photos. When I got back into the car I realized I got stuck...Ahhhhhhhh! :shock: (By that time I was laughing hysterical-dear god what did I do wrong!?) :lol:
It took me a while, but I managed to get the car out of the snow (note to self...dont drive into a pile of snow to take photos) Arriving at the car park in front of the Buachaille, I got my kit together and started walking up the path.
Well the snow was already ankle deep and I had no clue where the path was....so I should say I followed the footsteps of some other walkers.
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I continued up the steep path and really loved the new experience. I saw 2 other walkers ahead of me and decided to stay behind them...after all they must know more than me and hopefully also know when it was time to put the crampons on (As I said I worry about things ehm afterwards and so I I didnt really worried reading up about anything at all) Note to all...dont try this at home ;-)

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Leaving some distance between me and the other 2 walkers (after all I didnt wanted to make them feel followed) I walked up the path and when they stopped to put on the crampons, I stopped at the same place when I reached it and put mine on.

Walking with the crampons was absolutely brilliant...no more sliding, but I must have made something wrong because I kept on loosing the *@*~# things.
After I refitted them about 4-5 times (swearing loudly) I had enough and decided I need help. So when the 2 walkers in front stopped, I caught up with them and asked for help.
It turned out that my crampons were too loose and they helped me to fit them properly (thank you whoever you were!) Note to self read up about things!!!

Afterwards I continued the path up the gully and I have to say it was soooo much easier than in summer. Everything was frozen, no loose stones and it was one of the easiest walks I have done up that path. I reached the top of Stob Dearg and decided to head back down the same way-after all it would get dark by 4pm. To reach the top of Stob Dearg took me 1.15h in summer and during winter and deep snow it took me 1.45h, so that was good to know (plan more time in winter)
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The views were amazing but soon I got too cold and decided to head back down again.
Back down was even better than going up. I felt into a walk/run which was a bit like skiing and even with my crampons on, I felt like being on skies as the snow was pretty soft...again one of my favorite walks down a hill and I guess one of the fastest :-D
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Scary

Pretty steep

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maybe thats a better way down?

When I got back to my car the ski turned a lovely color of pink and purple and I managed some more photos before I left to drive home.
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Sunset

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Rannoch Mor Panoramic.jpg
Sunset at Rannoch Mor


After my skid on black ice, I was really scared when I reached the road around Loch Lomond and I was the leader of the traffic yam...doing the 20 odd miles with 25-30mph...Sorry to all who must have been cursed me that evening ;-)
But I made in back in one piece, with a slightly damaged car and lots of new experiences in winter climbing :-)

Needless to say after all the excitement I was drunk after my second pint that evening...at the Christmas party I also had to attend the same night...oh yes and with my high heels and evening dress managed to make a rather embarrassing pub exit after midnight...when I managed to fall down the stairs, ended up on my bum flashing a few people, who were slightly concerned when I burst out in hysterical laughs and started talking about crampons.... :lol:
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby Fudgie » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:03 pm

Sounds like a day you'll never forget :D

The photographer in me loves the last couple of shots and I've stood in front of that mountain a few times with my camera, waiting for the light to do me a favour.

Reading that has also made me want to look out my crampons and give them their debut :D
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby pigeon » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:20 pm

Ha ha,great story mountainlove,quite a hill to tackle for your first solo winter walk as well,good on ye :clap:
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby kw1980 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Sounds like quite an adventure! Youve got some amazing pictures, I especially like the one looking down on Rannoch Moor.
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby kevsbald » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:30 pm

You crash a car then do the Buachaille in Winter. Dedication for you. :D
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby dooterbang » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:50 pm

caraaazee chick :D

Like the 2 photos on the ridge.

I think everyone has crampon trouble the first few walks.

Well done.
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby Mountainlove » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:02 pm

@ Fudgie...the day was perfect for photos! Havent had a day like that since!

@ Pigeon Many thanks...it had to be my favourite one for the snow :-)

@ KW... yes it was and great fun :-)

@ Kev...It had to be...who can ignore a mountain on a day like that?

@ Dooterbang... Lol you only live once!And so far I still need to have a day without crampon trouble ;-)
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby malky_c » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:03 pm

Looks like the perfect winter's day out 8) .

Funnily enough your car prang episode reminds me of getting a lift down from the Cairngorm ski carpark with Dooterbang. We didn't crash, but for a moment, I was pretty sure we were going to have a rendezvous with the barrier :shock:
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby dooterbang » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:06 pm

malky_c wrote:Looks like the perfect winter's day out 8) .

Funnily enough your car prang episode reminds me of getting a lift down from the Cairngorm ski carpark with Dooterbang. We didn't crash, but for a moment, I was pretty sure we were going to have a rendezvous with the barrier :shock:


If i recall i think we did hit the barrier at one point which propelled us back onto the road :D .
Never has driving at 2mph been so scary :shock:
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby Mountainlove » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:12 pm

@ malky and dooterbang...ahhh makes me feel so good that I am not the only one who cant drive ;-) Lol only joking...
They should have driving on icy roads days by the AA...for passionate mountain walkers !!
Never mind the survival in the mountain days you can do!
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby dooterbang » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:18 pm

Mountainlove wrote:@ malky and dooterbang...ahhh makes me feel so good that I am not the only one who cant drive ;-) Lol only joking...
They should have driving on icy roads days by the AA...for passionate mountain walkers !!
Never mind the survival in the mountain days you can do!


Malky probably can drive....it was i who was crap!! malky was co-pilot and actually instructed me to which gear i should be in, did find it weird driving with my mits and balaclava on :lol: :lol:

Your an ideal candidate to teach us good folks icy road driving ML....Top Gear on ice :D
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby malky_c » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:23 pm

dooterbang wrote:If i recall i think we did hit the barrier at one point which propelled us back onto the road :D .
Never has driving at 2mph been so scary :shock:


I think you're right - I don't remember the details, just thinking SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!

I'm not much better - I nearly put my mum-in-law's car into a lamp post a few years back. Don't think I was insured for that particular car at the time either :shifty: :-?
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Re: My first solo winter hillwalk, crashing my car & being s

Postby Mountainlove » Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:28 pm

Malky probably can drive....it was i who was crap!! malky was co-pilot and actually instructed me to which gear i should be in, did find it weird driving with my mits and balaclava on :lol: :lol:

Your an ideal candidate to teach us good folks icy road driving ML....Top Gear on ice :D
mits and balaclava ...?
lol that must have been quite a sight for passers by! (Bankrobbers on the run)
Driving on icy roads...any time...as long as I dont have to drive along the Loch Lomond road again!
That loch is just too close...prefer to wash my car outside my house ;-)
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