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First time on snowshoes

First time on snowshoes


Postby weaselmaster » Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:46 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn nan Imirean, Meall an Fhudair

Date walked: 04/01/2014

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 1800m

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Today's walk nearly didn't happen. Firstly, Sick Kid is currently living up to her name, being incapacitated with neck pain from our exploits last weekend and hopped up to the eyeballs and beyond on goof balls. Number 2 - the original choices - Beinn Bheula or Ben Ledi/Benvane were both reported to have blockages on their ascent or descent routes on this site, so they were out. That left me looking at doing either 2 or 3 of the corbetts around Tyndrum - I had wanted to do them as a 5 but knew I'd not have enough time/daylight at present. And then there was the question of snow and avalanche risk - an SAIS red cross in Glencoe :( How much of a problem was that going to be...

I slept on it and when the alarm went off decided it was all too much uncertainty - maybe I should just go back to sleep. But that wouldn't really be good use of a reasonable weather day, and I looked at my options on my mobile. Hmm Meall an Fhudair looked possible, shouldn't be any avalanche risk and I could add an "undistinguished" Graham (Beinn Damhain) if I felt lucky. OK we'll give it a go. On the way out to the car I noticed that there was an Amazon box beside my wheely bin...that'll be the snowshoes I ordered after my experiences on Sgiath Chuil last week - good of them to just leave them lying there without putting a note thru the door - must've come yesterday and I didn't notice them coming home in the dark last night...not really sure how they work, but can't be that difficult...Decided to take them along for the ride.

Got to Glen Falloch farm just gone 9am - 2 other cars already parked up, with a group of 4 setting out. I'm guessing there won't be much snow up here, so I leave the 'shoes in the car. Up the track across the railway, soon passing another walker listening to something on headphones. We were to meet up frequently over the course of the ascent, unusually we both made the same pace, which I've not really encountered before. Anyway, nice views down to Loch Lomond on the path up, round the corner between Troisgeach Bheag and Troisgeach and onto the slopes of the latter. Slippy wet grass and a steep trackless ascent. Several stags stare then shudder away. I'm pretty hot by now and stop to take off a layer. Mr Headphones overtakes me at this point and stays ahead for the remainder of the ascent. After a few hundred metres I look to take a picture of... - damn, camera's not in my pocket (this being a wee Lumix I don't use much - after losing my usual camera last Saturday). Must've come out my pocket when I was shedding a layer. I leave the pack and scurry back down the way I've come, but there's no real track and I can't remember where I took my gilet off...oh well, another camera bites the dust - this is getting irritating. I used to fix the camera to my rucksack with some bungee cord, but gave up on this as the cord kept getting tangled up - will have to think of something in future that holds on to my cameras better than this :roll:

I stomp up to the top of Troisgeach in an irritable mood. Just to rub my nose in it, the clag clears and as I walk over the plateau towards Meall nan Caora the views over to Cruach Ardrain et al are beautiful - crisp white slopes, with the ravines further down picked out in white against the black rock and above a backdrop of lucid blue sky. Puffy white clouds roll along to the north, looking like low snow covered hills themselves. Up to my right Ben Lui appears majestic, sharp peak rising out of the snow clad corrie. I do stop and drink in the scenery, just sorry I can't capture it on film. Oh well...

There's a moderate amount of snow crossing over to Meall an Fhudair herself - deep in places. I take different lines to Mr Headphones and get to the summit maybe a minute before him - not that it's a race, you understand, i'm not a competitive kind of person at all :shock: We exchange new year greetings and chat about kit - he's into Mountain Broadcasting and is going to make a broadcast from the summit. I have no idea what this means, but leave him to it and head off SE towards Lairig Arnan. Turning around a large boulder I'm rewarded with the sight of an eagle rising soundlessly from where it's been perched on another rock maybe only 20 metres away. Huge spread of silent wings flap languorously into the air - the bird circles once overhead then heads off into cloud. The space is soon filled with a pair of raven, scything and swooping through the air - maybe chasing the eagle, I don't know. Mood is definately on the up by this point. It's not quite mid-day and I can see the slopes of Beinn Damhain across from me - looks quite steep and i'm not really that fussed about Grahams (yet). It occurs to me that I should be back at the car for not much later than 1pm - time to do something else rather than waste a reasonable afternoon's weather... Beinn nan Imirean comes into mind immediately as the one that got away last weekend... would give me opportunity to try out my snowshoes, might be able to get there and back before dark...hmm


Fhudair.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



The going is easy and pleasant in the glen, musical accompaniment from the many waterfalls gushing down the hillside. Big boulders stand like random megaliths adorning the valley. I stop for food and a cup of tea, enjoying the lack of wind and rain. Pressing on, I join a landrover track at the glen floor, which improves the wayfaring. Over to my right is an impressive waterfall coming down Meall an t-Sagairt. The track joins with the outward path and it's a simple matter to get back to the car. Kit thrown in the back and off to Auchessan. There are 2 other cars parked down the wee lane towards the bridge as I hurriedly get ready once again and strap my snowshoes to my rucksack. I wonder if this is really a good idea - it's gone 1.30 as I pass the cottages and I have to stop and check in my pack to make sure my headtorch is there (it is). I remember the route rather well from having descended this way in the dark last Saturday...up past a bunch of recalcitrant sheep and following one of the many burns that head up in the general direction I want to go. I'm basically heading over wet grass and heather tussocks to Creag nan Uan initially then aiming for Meall Garbh. My legs are feeling it a bit, but I press on - need to get the fitness level up. Smirry rain comes on and I don't know if its drops of rain or sweat that keep falling onto my glasses. There's patchy snow at first - I nearly fall into a deep crack between two rocks that's been covered by a crust of snow - only my leg goes in but it might have been quite challenging to get out of had more of me gone in. I get a bit twitchy on the remainder of this group of rocks. About 550m the snow starts to predominate - just before I reach the base of Meall Garbh...time to try out these fellows then.

It feels a bit like wearing crampons did the first few times - having to walk with my legs apart, but I quickly get the hang of it and find I can take big strides on the snow. This is fun! The shoes cope well with all but the deepest soft/powdery snow and are excellent in mixed icy/crisp snow too - only thing they struggled with was deep soft steep upwards snow, but even then they were far preferable to not wearing any. Pleased, I am :D
With the 'shoes on I made good progress across the hillside, feeling a little like an Antarctic explorer. There was a brief section at about 750m up Imirean where I did worry about avalanche risk - steep crusty snow with breaklines in it and a small bit of cornicing over a rise - surely I wouldn't have to turn tail now....I headed a little more to the east where most of the snow had been scoured off the grass by the biting wind, leaving only a frosty crust which seemed perfectly safe. No more worrying bits in the remaining hundred metres to the summit, although the wind was bitter, carrying some snowflakes and covered the prints of my snowshoes rapidly. had taken me two hours - being 3.30 there should be just enough time to get down before the daylight failed. I didn't hang around at the cairn but marched off following my own trail down the mountainside. No views - without a camera that mattered less than usual - and in good time I was back down in the softer snow. I headed for the stream/river we'd followed last week, spirits buoyed by a good day on the hills and by the ease with which my 'shoes had transformed a hideously slow day of falling into snow knee deep at every step (last weekend) with stomping powerfully on the surface :clap: Reaching the wee bridge over the Allt Riobain I saw about 10 sheep congregated upon it, clearly planning to impede my progress. "Out of my way, beasts" I commanded and they turned tail. Back at the car an hour from the summit felt good. And no crash on the way home tonight, either - things are looking up (except from the photograhic point of view :lol: )


imireanx.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Image
IMAG0048 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Snowshoes attached to pack
Image
IMAG0046 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Went for these ones - currently £59 off the price, which isn't bad
http://www.amazon.co.uk/SALEWA-00-00000 ... +snowshoes
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weaselmaster
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Re: First time on snowshoes

Postby Collaciotach » Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:42 pm

haha I should not laugh :lol: :lol:

Glad you enjoyed the day though :clap:
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Re: First time on snowshoes

Postby weaselmaster » Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:55 pm

Collaciotach wrote:haha I should not laugh :lol: :lol:

Glad you enjoyed the day though :clap:


Laughing at my inability to hold onto a camera or at the thought of my "Polar Explorer" snowshoes man?? :wink:
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weaselmaster
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Re: First time on snowshoes

Postby Sgurr » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:03 pm

You'll have met up with a SOTA guy (Summits on the Air) I was perplexed at first, but have met quite a few bagging Marilyns, and their web-site is sometimes a good resource for finding a route up the wee hills.

http://www.sota.org.uk/

I am not entirely sure of the rules, but think to have "bagged" a summit they have to establish contact in four directions (flexible if one direction is over the sea) and chat to a radio ham. Conversations I have over heard are of the type "What's the weather like in Blackpool then?" They amass points according to the difficulty of the summit. Please correct me any SOTA guys who are listening in.


What a shame losing a camera. I now keep mine in my map pocket, but that is only OK when someone else has ready access to the map, as mine now lives in ruck-sack.
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Re: First time on snowshoes

Postby weaselmaster » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:08 pm

Sgurr wrote:You'll have met up with a SOTA guy (Summits on the Air) I was perplexed at first, but have met quite a few bagging Marilyns, and their web-site is sometimes a good resource for finding a route up the wee hills.

http://www.sota.org.uk/

I am not entirely sure of the rules, but think to have "bagged" a summit they have to establish contact in four directions (flexible if one direction is over the sea) and chat to a radio ham. Conversations I have over heard are of the type "What's the weather like in Blackpool then?" They amass points according to the difficulty of the summit. Please correct me any SOTA guys who are listening in.


What a shame losing a camera. I now keep mine in my map pocket, but that is only OK when someone else has ready access to the map, as mine now lives in ruck-sack.


Yes, that's what the guy was doing - he got 4 points for Meall an Fhudair and would get 2 for Beinn Damhain, he told me (though at the time I hadn't a scooby what the points related to)
Thanks
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weaselmaster
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Re: First time on snowshoes

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:20 am

Excellent snowshoeage.
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Re: First time on snowshoes

Postby penelope1 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:05 pm

Well done indeed for doing the two on one day! These sheep can be annoying wee critters: I put one foot right down a deep hole on a scamper up Kirkton Glen yesterday, following sheep tracks across the snow - they had barely broken the surface - sure they do it deliberately!

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