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When winter dreams come true

When winter dreams come true

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:24 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Càrn Glas-choire

Date walked: 10/12/2017

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 490m

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Just before Christmas madness reaches its peak, we managed to climb one more Scottish top. Not a big walk, but due to severe snow dump in the Highlands, a longer drive or planning something remote (with dubious parking) was out of question.
It was a toss between Little Wyvis and Carn Glas-choire, both would be repeats and both we had visited before in winter conditions. We opted for the latter as weather forecast looked better east of Inverness. Plus the usual route for CGH follows a good track almost all the way to the summit, which we felt could make walking easier in deep snow.
It was a cold Sunday morning. -12*C as we left Beauly :-? Minor roads not yet gritted so progress was slow...

We picked up speed on the A9, but as soon as we turned to A938 near Carrbridge, it was back to the nitty-no-gritty stuff :lol:
A938 somewhere near Bogroy. Temperature -10*C.

Our route starts from about 1km north from a very minor road, B9007. Kevin calls it "the Glenferness pass". It is a notorious spot in his delivery area, especially when he has to drive up to the new windfarm building site (Tom nan Clach). The wind turbines are placed on the western slopes of Tom nan Clach, above the glen of upper Findhorn, but the access road was bulldozed up the less steep terrain from the B9007 in the east. (More about the TnC windfarm here). Thankfully, today we didn't have to drive that far, only about a mile north from the junction with A938. There are snow gates at by Lochgorm farm, but they were open, thanks heavens for small favours :D There is some space to park at the entrance to a forest track at 929258. Kevin, always cautious, put a shovel in the car "just in case we have to dig her out of snow". And later on it proved useful!
The off-road parking. Temperature still -10*C but the sun was raising so we hoped it would warm up later...
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 001.JPG

Our route goes past Auchterteang farm and up the ATV track to the high plateau, only the last 500m of walking are on pathless terrain. Piece of cake, one would say, and on previous visit it took us just under 4 hours. It was icy then and cold, too, but only a thin layer of snow. Now, snow shoes would be welcome :D

Track_CARN GLAS CHOIRE 2 10-12-17.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Yes, it was cold! :-? :-? Especially for Kevin. I'm used to freezing temperatures, Continental winters often have spells of -15/20*C lasting for days or even weeks. I recall from my childhood, Halloween (1st Nov) was usually below zero and most Christmas were white. Now with the climate changing, even Eastern Europe is suffering from lack of snow :( though this year it is looking more promising.
Winter wonderland came to Scotland!
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 008.JPG

Usually I don't wear scarfs on the hills (annoying long thingies flapping around my face in the wind - arghhhhh!!!) but today I made an exception :lol:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 014.JPG

After a short walk along the road, we turned to the access track to Auchterteang Farm. The first gate was locked but there is a kissing gate for walkers. Nobody has been up this track yet since the fresh snow fell on the ground, apart from rabbits and hares... It was lovely to walk on fresh, crispy snow.
Duthil Burn:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 018.JPG

Just one wee thing missing... A happy snowman :lol: But it really was his frozen kingdom so I simply had to add him here...
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 025 olaf.jpg

Past the farm and over the second gate (padlocked but easy to climb over) we walked out onto the grouse moorland. The track was filled with the white powder, it was still well below zero and the snow had the consistence of flour - it would be hard to make a snowman and besides, we didn't bring any carrots :lol:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 033.JPG

Trees dressed in white:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 037.JPG

As we continued on the track, the snow was getting deeper, now it was simply a matter of finding the windswept side of the road :lol: We reached the little green shed and stopped here for something to drink. Water in the bottle was so cold it hurt when swallowed :roll:
The green hut and our target hill behind:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 048.JPG

About 300m past the hut, the track divides and to climb straight to the summit one should turn right. We almost missed the junction in all that white! Later on, the track was better visible:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 060.JPG

The track circles around the side of a lower top, Tom nan Gabhar, up and down, over a small stream, then up again. In places, snow was knee deep here and we slowed down to snails pace, getting stuck occasionally. Kevin was complaining about cold feet, so I reminded him about spare socks he usually carries in his rucksack in case his feet get wet. He wasn't to be told twice. It was so cold, every layer counted!
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 068.JPG

After more fighting with knee deep snow, we walked onto another windswept stretch, where we could at least rest our tired knees and pose with giant icicles:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 078.JPG

I noticed, my scarf was freezing around my face!
The final push to the summit plateau follows the ravine of Allt Glas-choire, not much of a feature in summer time, now looking very interesting in white:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 070.JPG

The sun was up now and temperature was rising slowly, still cold but the light was great for photos. We couldn't resist stopping every five minutes and freezing our hands off when handling cameras :lol:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 083.JPG

An easier stretch:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 084.JPG

Getting deeper...

Kevin probing the snow for hidden traps:

It was sometimes easier to walk on the vegetation along the track!

All that hard work was rewarded when we emerged on the flatter ground near the summit, the track was windswept here, offering faster walking. Views - amazing. During our previous visit we didn't take many pictures as the day was very grey with high cloud hanging over the Cairngorms. This time, beautiful blue sky:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 085.JPG

Ben Rinnes, the mini-Schiehallion of the north:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 090.JPG

Cloud lifting from the tops of the Cairngorms:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 096.JPG

We spotted quite a few hares bouncing about but they are so fast, getting a good picture is tricky. Managed one decent snap. Should be called "Freezing my a* off" :lol: :lol: :lol:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 100.JPG

We left the track and headed for the summit, only half a kilometer west, over a couple of peat hags. I got stuck once, Kevin pulled me out of the trap (husbands can be useful in certain circumstances :wink: ). Soon we reached the trig point. Lucy hasn't been to this hill before, so she celebrated her 50th Graham. Half a century for the wee fluffy lamb :lol:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 137.JPG

We were pleasantly surprised that wind was low on the summit so we could spend some time wandering about with cameras. Conditions for photos couldn't be better and the winter wonderland looked amazing!
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 122.JPG

Panorama east from Ben Rinnes to the Cromdale Hills:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 132.JPG

Lochindorb Castle:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 112.JPG

Ben Wyvis and, in the foreground, Tom nan Clach wind turbines:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 115.JPG

Looking north-west to Strathconnon and Affric mountains:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 162.JPG

Cairngorms, Lucy and Panther:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 143.JPG

Cairngorms zoomed:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 144.JPG

Posing with the frozen fence and Loch Braigh Bruthaich:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 152.JPG

Trig point and views beyond:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 166.JPG

Kevin brought a small digital thermometer with him and now placed it on the top of his rucksack. As we warmed up with hot tea, the digi-temp told us, it was still well below zero... My chocolate bar was so hard, I couldn't bite it :shock:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 174.JPG

Far too cold to spend the whole day - our hands were almost frozen solid after maybe 15 minutes on the summit, and that despite low wind. To warm up again, we decided to cut the corners on the way down and hop back to the track across some... hmmm... white playground:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 175.JPG

On the way down to the track, white mountains on the horizon!
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 177.JPG

After some more swimming in deep snow we returned to the track and retraced our footprints back down to the moorland. It would be possible to do some sort of circular by including Carn nan Eagan or Creag na h-Iolaire (or both) but not with so much snow lying about. it was getting late anyway.
Panoramic view of Carn Glas-choire from the track below:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 184.JPG

The Cairngorms and the winter wonderland:
2017-12-10 carn glas choire 191.JPG

Did we really take 5.5 hours to do this wee jaunt? Far too long :lol: :lol:
When we returned to the car and packed up to drive home, it turned out, Black Arrow was stuck! Ice, ice baby! :think: Kevin's shovel did the job quickly and after a few minutes of furious digging, we drove out of the trap.
Summing up, when walking in winter wonderland:
1. Your shovel is your best friend
2. Invest in warm socks and bandana
3. Keep chocolate in inner pocket or say bye bye to teeth :lol:
I really hoped for White Christmas this year after the disappointment of 2016/17 season, but two weeks forecast is not optimistic...
UK Outlook for Sunday 17 Dec 2017 to Tuesday 26 Dec 2017:
After a frosty start on Sunday, it will turn less cold. Cloud and outbreaks of rain are expected to spread to all areas by the end of the day, with strengthening winds and a perhaps hill snow for a time in the north. This is likely to bring a change to unsettled and milder conditions across country early next week. Through the rest of the period, generally milder but unsettled conditions are likely persist with bands of rain and hill snow interspersed by drier interludes, these most likely in the southeast. It may become very windy at times later next week with gales or severe gales in places. There remains a small chance that generally drier and colder conditions could affect southern areas at times.
Source: Met Office.
Ahh, forget all the forecast nonsense. I'm desperate to enjoy the winter hols regardless!
This was definitively our last hillwalking day out before the festive days so I'd like to wish all walkhighlanders Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may it be better than the passing one, may all your winter dreams come true :D
xmass wishes.jpg
Last edited by BlackPanther on Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When winter dreams come true

Postby Magoo82 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:50 pm

Some tremendous photos in there, especially the early morning light and the wee mountain hare! :clap:
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Re: When winter dreams come true

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:48 pm

Wow, those look like amazing, but freezing, conditions! Despite the fact it was probably hard work and flipping cold, I'd love to get out on the hills at the moment.

Closest I've been is Leith Hill, but it was snowy at least, just not very deep.

Merry Christmas to you, Kevin and Lucy!
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Re: When winter dreams come true

Postby dooterbang » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:00 pm

We took ages for a short walk other week, but when the snow is out there is no rush :)

Looked a great wee walk that 8)

Not ventured way up North yet for the snow but looking at the roads I may need a 4x4 :shock: :shock: :lol:
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Re: When winter dreams come true

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:16 pm

Many thanks, folks :D Sadly, the white stuff is melting... But even if we don't have white Christmas, I'm positive this winter will be better than the previous one! I'd rather need a 4x4 than a canoe :lol:

It was hard work indeed, but at least the exercise kept us warm. This wee Graham is definitely a good viewpoint and a perfect walk for winter conditions :D
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