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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.

Glas Maol with Snowshoes

Glas Maol with Snowshoes


Postby weedavie » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:48 pm

Munros included on this walk: Cairn of Claise, Carn an Tuirc, Glas Maol

Date walked: 18/12/2011

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 900m

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This is a commonplace round but maybe someone’s interested in snowshoes. Last year I bought a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes (made in Ireland!). This was really because of the tons of powder that fell in December and had at its most extreme resulted in a 10k traverse in the Pentlands with 200 metre ascent taking 6 hours. Anyway I thought I’d just leave a note on the results for anyone similarly inclined.

The low car park was blocked with snow so we parked at the lay-by a couple of hundred metres beyond. I got snash for the length of time it took me to hang the shoes on my rucksack. They’re definitely a bit bulky and inconvenient. Someone had broken the snow for the first kilometre or so, so I didn’t put them on. Then the trail petered out. Time for snowshoes.

On the positive side, they’re easy to mount, four rubber straps per shoe, just stretch and hook. They really work. They are good in deep snow but I particularly like them on the sort of crust that takes your weight then drops you through. We were getting all of this and Gordon was floundering and pointing out that I wasn’t breaking any tracks to help him. As Carn na Tuirc steepened we began to get hard packed snow. The shoes have a decent crampon, though you wouldn’t want to use it on anywhere you’d need the front points on a 12 point crampon. They were fine here and effortless compared with Gordon’s step kicking. I’ve no photos until the summit because I don’t carry a camera and he was too knackered to use his.

Carn an Tuirc.jpg

I took them off again to cross the boulderfield to the summit. Takes seconds and they’re easy to carry by hand. Carn na Tuirc was a great viewpoint but shouldn’t be a Munro. If the SMC had any integrity only Glas Maol and Lochnagar would retain their status in the Mounth. OK maybe Driesh as well because of distance and Creag Leacach because it actually looks like a hill but the other nine are just tops and undistinguished ones at that.

Cairn of Claise.jpg


From here on, the snow had formed a crust on the wind-swept plateau. This cut the advantage of the snowshoes. They maybe afforded a 10% reduction on effort from here over Cairn of Claise to Glas Maol. Also they’re quite noisy. You’re certainly not going to surprise any wildlife.
Cairn Toul.jpg


We descended by Sron na Gaoithe. Going down a steepish slope, it’s hard to believe fully that these great clown’s shoes are not going to set you sliding to oblivion. Actually they’re fine and you’re more likely to get frustrated that you can’t indulge in giant steps down the slope as they brake a bit too effectively and you’re likely to summersault if you get over-enthusiastic. From the bottom of the Sron we were back into conditions where the shoes were gliding over the difficulties.
Sron na Gaoithe.jpg


On the down side, snow conditions in Scotland won’t often justify them. So far this winter I’d carried them 30k before getting a superb day. If the snow’s firm or shallow, why bother with them? That said, one of the carrying trips I’d followed a set of footsteps showing the marks of 10 point crampons - that was a real misuse of equipment. The shoes weigh about 2 kilos, so I’d be hesitant about carrying them along with crampons. I think roughly that’s take snowshoes in the Cairngorms, crampons in Glencoe.

The trickiest bit is getting your mates to invest £200 in something that will take 10 years to justify. If you don’t get them to do it then you’re going to find yourself waiting for them to catch up. When they do they’ll be considerably hacked off that your efforts are not contributing to breaking the snow. After the walk my mate Gordon posted this blog on the subject. It’s got pretty pictures of snowshoes in action. Myself, I nicked the photos above from him.
http://www.ga-highland-walks.co.uk/wenceslas-no-more/
weedavie
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 131
Joined: Jul 15, 2011

Re: Glas Maol with Snowshoes

Postby Caberfeidh » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:33 pm

Interesting stuff ~ after the last two winters I decided I wanted/needed a pair of snowshoes. I saw snowshoes in Norway which were approx. £70, I asked a Norwegian mate to get me some when he was home but he got me the top-of-the-range £250 pair! I felt I had to pay up for them, but have not yet used them. I have used a pair of old birchwood and carribou-gut Canadian snowshoes, but that was after a blizzard of powder in very cold conditions so the snow didn't consolidate at all, and I just sank into the fluff. I'm looking forward to getting out on some deep stuff with my Norwegian ones. You can make them yourself, by heating willow or hazel sticks in hot water and bending them into shape, then adding webbing of some kind. See this link ~ http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/winter/gear/snowshoes/indian.htm
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Caberfeidh
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Posts: 6677
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Re: Glas Maol with Snowshoes

Postby weedavie » Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:40 pm

Caberfeidh wrote:Interesting stuff ~ after the last two winters I decided I wanted/needed a pair of snowshoes. I saw snowshoes in Norway which were approx. £70, I asked a Norwegian mate to get me some when he was home but he got me the top-of-the-range £250 pair! I felt I had to pay up for them, but have not yet used them. I have used a pair of old birchwood and carribou-gut Canadian snowshoes, but that was after a blizzard of powder in very cold conditions so the snow didn't consolidate at all, and I just sank into the fluff. I'm looking forward to getting out on some deep stuff with my Norwegian ones. You can make them yourself, by heating willow or hazel sticks in hot water and bending them into shape, then adding webbing of some kind. See this link ~ http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/winter/gear/snowshoes/indian.htm

Like me, you might be a while getting value. I walk once or twice a week and in the year I've had the shoes I've taken them with me 10 times, worn them six times and they've been essential once. Still the money's way in the past and they are fun.....
weedavie
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 131
Joined: Jul 15, 2011

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