One look at the stats on this walk will tell you all did not go to plan.
It was an early start and Jim picked me up at 5am...ish and arrived at the Glen Doll car park around 8 , just in time for the sun to shine down on us on it`s way up. The walk in to Corrie Fee was icy, but we managed to get there without the need for crampons which we joked about putting on straight away. If we had , we might have noticed that Jim had left his ice axe in the car sooner than we did.
Although we never saw any wildlife on the walk in, we did see plenty of evidence of a varied presence in the trees by the amount of different prints in the snow by the side of the road. It was about halfway along Jim realised he had left his axe. At about 9.30 we reached the entrance to Corrie Fee and not only where we met by this vast ampitheatre of rock and ice but also by a gushing wind. We went back down the path to sit out of it and have some breakfast.
We only took five minutes and were on our way back in and took some pictures as the wind died down.
We then made our way along the path and followed the burn which was partially covered with ice and snow. The path itself was not too bad.
As we climbed up the partially icy steps towards the waterfall, a walker came down towards us. His face was marked with blood and he was shaking a bit. He also only had one crampon on and was in a hurry to get down. We talked to him for a couple of minutes as he told us what happened. He had been making his way up the "path", when one of his crampons became loose and he stopped to fix it. Just like that he said, crampon off, and he slipped leaving his axe behind as he slipped down the snow and took a bit of a tumble. I took his name and number before he headed off, with the pretext of calling him if we found his gear. It also helped suss out if he was concussed or not as he rattled his number off easily. We asked if he would be ok going back himself and he assured us he`d be fine, just had enough for the day. We watched him head down before slowly walking on, with serious thoughts going on inside our heads. We always know that there is always an element of danger on the hills , especially in winter but when you see someone actually injured on a climb you are about to make it really hits home. We sat on some rocks and put our crampons on , making double sure they were fastened tight. Had a look up to find a good path through the snow and rocks and began to make our way up.
It was easy enough at first as we headed up towards a head wall and began to go right towards the waterfall and summer path route. The ground was getting steeper and there were more rocks and drops below us. We assessed the situation. One ice axe, steep snowy ground, icy rocks, and a bloody face at the forefront of our minds, we decided to turn back. Had we even brought the other axe or found the dropped one, i think we would still had made this decision, we weren`t in the right frame of mind to take on the risk. Or maybe we were in the perfect frame of mind ? So it was just the simple climb down then, aye right. It seemed like we had only made a short climb up , but looking back down was scary for me. Jim made his way down fairly quickly, but i became stuck for a minute or so, as all i thought about was falling. Not good, give yourself a shake, take your time and down climb.
Even if I fell, it probably wouldn`t have been that bad as i`d cleared most of the rocks and had my axe ready, it was just the thought of it more than anything else that spooked me. I just stuck to taking it one step at a time.
Climbing down, we saw prints heading off in another direction to the left , up and around the wall, but we didn`t want to get ourselves in a sticky situation further up so carried on down to flat ground. We had a look around for other routes but decided on safety first and turned back the way we came.
Feeling a bit defeated (but alive) we followed the track back down and passed many more walkers on their way up. Some seemed a bit bemused we had turned back, some suggested we had possibly taken a wrong route but the day was still young and we were going to enjoy our day out, even if it was by a big detour. We headed back through the forest trail , looking through the trees for a shortcut to the descent route of the Kilbo path, but as well as the trees there was the north pointing Shank of Drumfollow in the way as well. In a clearing we could see up the side of this through where a vast area of forestry had been cut down many years before. And with not a lot of snow on the shank or in the corrie we opted to head straight up by the side of the tree line. At first we followed the remains of an old forestry track before eventually working our way through the old stumps, occasionally sinking baw deep in the snow until we reached a deer fence. We then skirted over the tops of the trees heading up to the ridge, where we were greeted by the shining sun .
It was jackets off and a rest on the rocks for a while. We could see down to the Kilbo path which was covered in snow and we thought it safer to stay on high ground and reach the plateau from here.
We got the crampons on again as we walked up as the snow although only a couple of centimetres thick was quite slidy.
Once on top of here , everything opened up all around us, the white peaks showing up great against the blue sky backgound. Although tired and leg heavy we were able to reach both munros and met some people we had saw down in Corrie Fee. Everyone had made the climb up. We also met a guy who found the missing ice axe and crampons and were able to pass on details. The decent down the Kilbo path definitely required crampons and it was a long trek back to the car park.
I sent a text to the injured walker on the way home , and he was home fine and been in touch with the guy who found his stuff, so it was a good result all round.
link to everytrail for route and more pics
(i`ve changed computers before finishing this report and the rest of the pictures are on a stick somewhere)
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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.