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Coming of Age on Ben Chonzie!

Coming of Age on Ben Chonzie!

Postby Orienteer » Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:30 pm

Route description: Ben Chonzie via Glen Lednock

Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie

Date walked: 05/01/2012

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 12.5 km

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It was not without countless hours of nervous thought that I chose to embark on my first proper winter mountain without "an adult." I've done a hill or two in icy conditions before - Ben Ledi and Ben Lomond come to mind - but this would be the first time that I would be largely responsible for navigation and the climb in general in such conditions!

There are many things that can be thought of as 'going wrong' on a hill; hypothermia, slips or falls, getting lost... Thank goodness we decided to take the plunge! Quite simply, this is one of the best climbs I've ever undertaken. We were fortunate that we could choose almost any day and, with some consultation from MWIS we were granted perhaps the best conditions I have been fortunate to be outdoors in in the last twelve months! We had expected overcast conditions with some flurries of snow.. instead, we were awarded fantastic blue skies, sunshine, fresh crusty snow and relatively mild conditions (at least out of that bitter wind!)

We were also lucky in having a lot of time to plan what hill we wished to climb and chose Ben Chonzie for its proximity to the central belt and reputation of being easy. I am, however, glad to say it in no way lived up to its reputation for being boring! And, in 2 or 3 feet deep drifts of snow the walk was far from easy, in fact, I found it more physically challenging (measuring by pain the next day!) than the ring of Steall! This is not to mention the difficulty of crawling to the summit across thick ice in very blustery conditions!

So, us three young students set off with the aim of arriving at the car park at Invergeldie before dawn. You can imagine our somewhat disheartened spirits as we drove through sheets of horizontal rain along the motorway! However, this was not the main cause of worry on our travel up. I should warn that road between Braco and Comrie appears to have had extensive ice damage or is being dug up. Nevertheless, I hit a pot hole rather hard in Father's car. After turning the radio down a bit and deciding that everything sounds normal and the car still steers we continued to Invergeldie.

Now, if there is one thing not to do to a group of young mountaineers embarking on their first proper winter trip it is this...

Upon arrival an, albeit lovely, aged man gave us some stark warnings. He explained that he had climbed every munro in many conditions and "he came closets to dieing on Chonzie". Thanks for that! He had infact intended to climb it that day but chose not to when he arrived due to weather. Undeterred, we had the "we'll give it a bash attitude" that could only come from three twenty year old males!

After threats of impending doom I checked the car - flat tire. Suddenly the mountain did not seem so bad as the wrath of my dad! (It turned out it was a coincedence and we had a slow puncture... :p)


Setting off during a beautiful dawn


Dawn Panorama (1280x316).jpg



At this point there was a major panic! The battery compartment on my camera had opened and had dropped my batteries somewhere! Two were found quickly but I must confess to 'littering' :(. I unfortunately could not find the other two (despite running back quite a bit!). Needless to say I was rather depressed that my camera had failed me in some of the most fantastic conditions I have ever experienced! For some reason, unbeknown to me, I had actually packed a spare set (for my GPS), and after mixing new and old batteries ( :o :o ) was back in camera mode!









Demonstration of the wind!!


I must confess none of us had crampons or an ice axe. Perhaps they would have been useful for getting across this ice! Instead I spent much of my time on all fours slowly crawling much of the last 300m! Luckily we never needed an ice axe!

Time for a rest!


A much faster way down!


A rainbow to top it all off!

Student budget chocolate!

Having arrived back at the car it was time to pump the tire back up (similar to the batteries, for some reason an electric pump was packed in the car!!)

So, despite somewhat scary words of warning from a fellow walker and some desperate attempts to get air back in the tire we did it! I think a great deal of luck was with us on the day but it really goes to show the benefits of planning around the weather forecast!
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Re: Coming of Age on Ben Chonzie!

Postby jonny616 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:49 pm

What a great weather day you had. I too did this in winter.

If you want to do more winter climbs i would recomend getting an axe & crampons when you can. you may cary them & not need them, but better that than need them & not have them

Enjoy & be safe


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Re: Coming of Age on Ben Chonzie!

Postby Redrock » Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:51 pm

Great stuff, Orienteer, it sounds (and looks) like you had a great day out on Chonzie. :D I've been up it twice (once in winter, once in summer) and I've never found it an easy hill - and it gets a lot of snow in winter! You'll be needing ice axes and crampons if you're going to be doing much more in winter! (Check out Go Outdoors - they seem to have these at a reasonable price). Have fun and stay safe! 8)
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Re: Coming of Age on Ben Chonzie!

Postby quoman » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:41 pm

Hi Orienteer

you looked to have some fun up there nice clear day. but i would copy what Redrock & jonny616 said axe and crampons if your going out more in the winter but hey your still young and mad a mind what those days were like :lol: :lol:
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Re: Coming of Age on Ben Chonzie!

Postby Tomsie » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:53 pm

Hope I get same weather in the morn as ye .
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