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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 winter walk

My first winter walk


Postby weaselmaster » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:34 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben More

Date walked: 03/11/2012

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 902m

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Been looking forward to climbing up Ben More for a few weeks now. Forecast had been reasonable for today - not too much wind and only light snow showers in the morning. Had planned to head up with Allison, but she was indisposed, so it was the furry friend and me. left Greenock at about 6.45 and parked up in the lochside layby - pleased to note no ice on the roads. Left the car at 8 and headed along to the track at Ben More farm. The dog got a few looks from the cattle at the start of the walk.

Followed the landrover track up to the gate, then headed up the hill at the wee cairn. Looked quite steep from here, and what appeared to be a light dusting of snow only on the slopes.

Image
P1000190 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Followed the course of the stream up the lower slopes - boggy and not frozen, another plus. Started to run into snow at about 600m but just a thin covering. However, another 100m up the snow was getting thicker and the path was getting invisible. Time to try out my crampons which arrived this week.

Had been a bit apprehensive about walking in snow on my own and also no real idea how to use the crampons other than a couple of youtube vids. But it was pretty straightforward :wink: By the time I'd climbed up to 800m the visibility had all but gone and the wind was whipping up a miniblizzard across the path. There were snowdrifts over my knees and the dog wasn't looking as happy as he had been. used my poles to prod out safe places to stand. Wondered if I should turn back, but reckoned it was ok to keep going.

Image
P1000197 by 23weasels, on Flickr

By about 950m there was no sign of the path at all and beautiful sheets of snow.

Image
P1000204 by 23weasels, on Flickr

My glasses were starting to freeze over which further limited my vision and a was regretting my decision not to pack the goggles I'd bought recently (surely wasn't going to need them today...). Was also regretting bringing the dog - he was struggling through some of the deeper drifts, and I had to stop a few times to pull the little snowballs that were forning on the hair between his paw pads. Pressing on the summit briefly came into view then was obscured again. Beard is now frozen to my fleece but fortunately body feels quite warm.

Image
P1000206 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Finally got to the top and spotted the cairn. Had taken 2 hours 20 with a stop to put on the crampons and a couple of short breathers. the cairn seemed to be surrounded on 3 sides by more of a drop than I was anticipating. I was struggling to see the direction sign on my GPS becasue of the conditions and my icy covered specs. Ended up disorientated and heading back down the way I had come up (more or less) thinking that I was heading towards Stob Binnien.

Image
P1000208 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Could see nothing up ahead because of the mist, but did find the track, kept looking out for the rock on the bealach, but of course I'm going the wrong way. Dog's looking like a Yeti - never seen his pelt so fluffed up and covered with patches of ice. Wasn't until I dropped to about 750m and met another climber coming up - by which time visibility had lifted and I could see down to the loch that I learned I was just heading down the way I'd come. Did (briefly) think about going back up, but that would have been daft :crazy: Was chhered by the guy I met telling me that Stob Binnien is better reached by the south route from Balquidder, so that'll make another day's outing sometime.

Reasonably easy going with the crampons still on til I got to about 400m when I decided to take them off and headed back to the car, somewhat earlier than I'd been expecting.

Image
P1000216 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sat and had a bite to eat at the lochside by the layby while the dog paddled and washed most of the boggy filth off his legs.

So some lessons for me - was ok going on my own I think even in the poor visibility conditions but I should have tried out my contact lenses (or goggles); Crampons are useful and fairly easy to master (only tripped over once); Snow can be much deeper than you think it might be from lower down the hill; Just because I've got my GPS on I can still end up going the wrong way like a bleeding idiot if I don't check the the direction the path is taking me carefully enough. :shock:

I didn't find Ben More especially steep, thoyugh there's not much respite on the way up - think my legs suffered more with last weekend's exertions.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29312277@N08/sets/72157631920290899/
Last edited by weaselmaster on Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1772
Munros:205   Corbetts:213
Grahams:68   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:177   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: My first winter walk

Postby ken reid » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:36 pm

sounds like you had a good day all in all not sure I wold have used my crampons but I was not there and it's allways beter to er on the side of caution I hope you get a good view when you go back to bag stob binnien :clap: :clap: :clap:
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ken reid
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 215
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Joined: Jun 17, 2009

Re: My first winter walk

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:45 pm

I guess i just need to "find my feet" with how to handle winter conditions - don't want to make mistakes and when i'm out myself on the hills mistakes could be problematic. Am going to one of the winter skills courses next month, so hopefully be a bit more clued up after that.
But yeah, was a good day out :D
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1772
Munros:205   Corbetts:213
Grahams:68   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:177   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

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