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Victory on Vrackie

Victory on Vrackie


Postby SMRussell » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:31 pm

Route description: Ben Vrackie, near Pitlochry

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Vrackie

Date walked: 05/01/2012

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 720m

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Many of you will have already viewed EwaMH's great report on our (Ewa, agrubb and I) wildly windy walk up Ben Vrackie which can be accessed via the link below:
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=17685

Here's my perspective. Firstly the day began with a case of the sniffles. I thought I should probably sit this one out but instead popped a few paracetamol and headed out anyway - we'd been talking about doing this one for ages so I wasn't going to back out. We'd headed out a little late but we were still early enough to witness the beautiful sunrise. Much of the lower walking was very icy and with the wind and accompanying gust beginning to strengthen we decided to don our microspikes. My spikes were getting their 3rd outing but this was Ewa and Andy's first experience of microspike joy and I got the impression they were pleased with their purchases.

Even at only 400 metres up the views were great and would only get better the further we ascended. Once we were through the gate between Stac an Fheidh and Creag Bhreac the view to Vrackie was before us in all its glory - looking stunning in its winter coat. It was clear the winds at the summit would be hard going as we watched the snow whoosh and whorl around the hill. Just before the loch we passed two fellow walkers sheltering behind a rock. They asked whether we were heading up and seemed unimpressed with our positive response. We didn't see them again... wimps! We had a snack break in a gully before the main ascent and spied another fellow walker. He was also going to head up and began his ascent while we were layering up and getting our axes and goggles out. The moment we left the gully the seriousness of the wind hit us at full force - several times I had to whack my axe into the snow and bow my head waiting for it to calm and grant us safe passage. Once out of the gully we were treated to a beautiful view of Schiehallion.

The snow just got deeper and deeper, the wind became harder and harder and soon it became apparent that the guiding lines of snowy footprints (the ghosts of walkers passed) had been erased - we were blazing a trail (and being eaten by the snow). We must have been around 625 metres up when not only was the wind whipping up snow from the ground to batter us with but the blizzard started. I think we were all thankful to have goggles on and also very aware that the walker from the gully had turned back and we were alone on the hill - were we crazy? Probably. Eventually Vrackie's mood lightened a little and the blizzard passed but the wind wasn't through with us yet. The deep snow before the summit tried its hardest to have us for elevenses but we persevered and soon Andy and I had spied the summit cairn. But the route to the summit wasn't straight forward. The wind was crazy and blew us over several times and Ewa had the right idea staying as low to the ground as possible. Once we were at the cairn and trig point it didn't matter - victory was ours! Our reward? Glorious views - the view to the Beinn a'Ghlo was beautiful.

The way down was a very different story - impromptu sledgeless sliding down the steep hillside, clear blue skies and lots of people. Seems every other man and his dog had decided to bag Vrackie although they had the sense to wait for the conditions to calm.

A thoroughly well deserved pint and a dram at the Moulin Inn was a great way to finish the day. Although by 6pm that night my minor sniffle was a full blown cold. But it was worth it! Now I'm off to blow my nose - enjoy the photos.
1 Sunrise.jpg

1-1 microspike time.jpg

2 Ewa and Andy.jpg

3 BV peeking through.jpg

4 BV.jpg

5 The snow thought Andy was tasty.jpg

6 ice on the loch.jpg

7 BV.jpg

8 Summit.jpg

9 Ewas crawl tactic.jpg

10 BaG.jpg

11 Snowy hills.jpg

12 Trig love.jpg

12-1 clearing up.jpg

14.jpg
Last edited by SMRussell on Wed May 09, 2012 3:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby 147cjl » Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:00 pm

great pictures, was a great day for the views
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby SMRussell » Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:42 pm

147cjl wrote:great pictures, was a great day for the views


Thanks :D I can't describe how pleased we were that the weather cleared before we got to the summit. To go through all that only to miss out on those views would have been devastating!
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby Fudgie » Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:31 pm

More great pictures from that trip making me even more jealous of the views you got :D
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby Collaciotach » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:26 pm

really enjoyed that and good pics ... Dhia sunshine ata last .... heading for A Mharconaich tomorrow hope to get similiar :)
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby Redrock » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:39 pm

It looks a beautiful day - great pictures - you can hardly see the wind! :D But I know how wild it was earlier on - even at low level! You did well to conquer Vrackie that day! 8)
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby SMRussell » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:01 pm

Fudgie wrote:More great pictures from that trip making me even more jealous of the views you got :D

It was a great day. Those views really solidify why we put ourselves through the pain and occasional anguish the hills throw at us. I bagged the Beinn a Ghlo in the Autumn - they looked lovely from the top of BV! Makes me want to do them again while they still have their winter coats :D

Collaciotach wrote:really enjoyed that and good pics ... Dhia sunshine ata last .... heading for A Mharconaich tomorrow hope to get similiar :)

I have my fingers crossed for you :D

Redrock wrote:It looks a beautiful day - great pictures - you can hardly see the wind! :D But I know how wild it was earlier on - even at low level! You did well to conquer Vrackie that day! 8)

Thanks. Really shows how the weather can change - those popping up in the afternoon won't have had quite as much of a battering as us. I loved it though!
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby 2dalmatians » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:43 pm

Great pictures! Looked like an excellent days walking. Noticed the microspikes. Was the ground hard and were they really good enough for the steep bits?
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby SMRussell » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:41 pm

2dalmatians wrote: Noticed the microspikes. Was the ground hard and were they really good enough for the steep bits?


Much like crampons microspikes depend on the conditions at the time. The microspikes work best on hard ice and a gradual ascent. The first time I wore them it was on Ben Chonzie - you can see the conditions in the first picture of my walk report for Chonzie ( http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=17241 ). They were excellent for the Chonzie hike because it was icy to begin with and not too steep.

For the Vrackie hike they were a better option than crampons in that the ice lower down was slippy but campons would have been too much. Higher up the snow was deep and soft - I do think they were helpful but not really necessary higher up (except the icy summit) but they provided some stability.

If you were doing something very icy and very steep microspikes would be a bad idea.
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby 2dalmatians » Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:14 am

SMRussell wrote:
2dalmatians wrote: Noticed the microspikes. Was the ground hard and were they really good enough for the steep bits?


Much like crampons microspikes depend on the conditions at the time. The microspikes work best on hard ice and a gradual ascent. The first time I wore them it was on Ben Chonzie - you can see the conditions in the first picture of my walk report for Chonzie ( http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=17241 ). They were excellent for the Chonzie hike because it was icy to begin with and not too steep.

For the Vrackie hike they were a better option than crampons in that the ice lower down was slippy but campons would have been too much. Higher up the snow was deep and soft - I do think they were helpful but not really necessary higher up (except the icy summit) but they provided some stability.

If you were doing something very icy and very steep microspikes would be a bad idea.



Thanks for the feedback. I have the microspikes and use them in a similar way. I havent had the confidence to use them on steeper icier conditions and now I definitely wont in the future!!
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Re: Victory on Vrackie

Postby SMRussell » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:16 pm

2dalmatians wrote: Thanks for the feedback. I have the microspikes and use them in a similar way. I havent had the confidence to use them on steeper icier conditions and now I definitely wont in the future!!


Any time :wink: I think it you check back on the Gear and Equipment section you'll find a few Crampons Vs Spikes threads.
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