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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.

Trying to avoid the snow...

Trying to avoid the snow...


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:03 am

Munros included on this walk: Ben Chonzie, Driesh, Mayar, Mount Keen

Date walked: 21/01/2018

Time taken: 19.25 hours

Distance: 58 km

Ascent: 2949m

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Pretty heavy duty weather this weekend- my hope was to choose Munros that had a bit less of a dump of snow on them, and to which I would be able to drive to start the walk! Not that easy a proposition going by the forecast. Plus we needed to have somewhere to camp. I reckoned on Ben Chonzie for Friday, staying at Comrie Croft, then a trip up to Angus for The Driesh, Mayar and Mount Keen. Drove up on Thursday night as usual, arriving at a very snow Comrie Croft. The forecast for Friday was not much snow - however there was 2-3 inches overnight and it was snowing heavily when we left for Glen Lednock. Last time I'd done Chonzie I had parked at Comrie, too scared to take the car up the glen and walked the whole way in Scarpa B3 winter boots, to the lasting damage to my metatarsals. This time I was looking forward to a much shorter walk...that was until I found I couldn't get the car up the first hill out of Comrie due to a combination of snow on ice - 4wd and winter tires not withstanding. A Landrover with snow tires passed by effortlessly, but the other cars that tried had the same fate as me. So it was another walk in winter boots (although a kinder set than my old Scarpas, thankfully) and 8 snowy miles added to the route.

Snowy Comrie Croft
ImageDSC00484 by Al, on Flickr


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



ImageDSC00486 by Al, on Flickr


We walked through the woods, by the Deil's Cauldron and back onto the road where nothing else passed us except an SUV. The parking place at Invergeldie was under a couple of feet of hard packed snow and several quirky snowmen watched proceedings. Inside one of the houses, a wee girl of 8 or so was obviously enjoying her "snow day" off school. We set off up the track, covered in 1-2 feet of snow. Snowshoes on! Unfortunately, from about 500m we were enveloped in clag. When we left the track to cross the wee stream and head up the hillside the wind grew sharp, going was slow. Up to the plateau - snow crusted over and easier to plod along in the snowshoes. Fenceposts provided useful direction pointers except when they were buried. At least made it to the summit - vicious wind blasting spicules of ice into our eyes. Tracks almost covered already.

ImageDSC00488 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00489 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00490 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00491 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00492 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00493 by Al, on Flickr

We retraced our steps, meeting a man who lived in the glen heading up - this would be around 3.30. We chatted for a bit and left him to enjoy his bit of exercise whilst we had the delight of the long road walk to contemplate. Feet were rather sore - partly from the snowshoes - by the time we made it back to the car in the darkness. Bit challenging getting into Comrie Croft due to polished ice - a wedding party were arriving for the following day, so there was much hilarity as cars were pushed up the driveway. we had a scalding hot shower and a curry to warm us up a bit before settling down for the night.

ImageDSC00494 by Al, on Flickr

Another cold start - car reading -7.5 as we drove along to Crieff and onto the A90. Much less snow in evidence once we passed through Dundee. Had intended to do Driesh and Mayar today, but the roads/snow meant we were longer travelling than expected and I also wanted a place to pitch the tent overnight - we'd stayed at Invermark before, so we settled on Mount Keen for today. We arrived around 11.30 to a carpark that was stowed out with walkers (and people who get their kicks out of killing animals). A fine sunny day - though cold, the paths having turned to rivers of ice making progress challenging - as Allison remarked to a couple of guys coming back down, it's the paths, not the mountain that's a challenge today.

ImageDSC00495 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00496 by Al, on Flickr


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



We passed the Queens Well, reminiscing that last time we'd been here was a scorching summer day when we saw a big adder lying basking on the path - not today! Took some shelter behind the house at Glenmark to have lunch and set off up the path, the white dome of Mt Keen now visible ahead of us. Clouds started to roll in as we approached the summit - typical! Crampons were helpful in the last 100m ascent as the surface had glazed over. At the cairn we looked west to the Lochnagar hills then prepared for a bit of Sim bagging - Braid Cairn to the east of Mt Keen our first target. We descended off the east side of Keen, spotting a track of sorts rising up the adjacent hill. By the time we reached the summit it was getting on for 4pm - another descent by headtorch looking likely. Our next destination was Round Hill, due south of Braid Cairn, which involved some peat hags - frozen solid :D From the summit cairn we joined an ATV track that wended its way back to the outward path, although it was slippy and quite rough in places, Allison taking a tumble instead of yours truly this week.

ImageDSC00497 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00499 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Lochnagar
ImageDSC00500 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00501 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00502 by Al, on Flickr

Braid cairn
ImageDSC00503 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00506 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00507 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00508 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00511 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Round Hill
ImageDSC00512 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00514 by Al, on Flickr


Back at the car park we were alone, apart from a white van that appeared empty. We set up the tent and had another cold night, lit by brilliant dazzling stars - with no light pollution and a crescent moon the sky was spectacular. Only -5 in the morning (though I think it had fallen lower dering the night). We were surprised (and grateful) that a gritter had been up the glen road at 5am as we set off for Glen Clova. The sunrise was blood red.

ImageDSC00515 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00516 by Al, on Flickr



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



Arrived at the car park at Glen Doll around 9.30, with quite a few other cars there already. The road in had been cleared pretty well, with only a couple of patches of thick ice across the surface to worry about. I did hope it wasn't going to snow heavily while we were up the hill and leave us stranded. My plan was to climb The Dreish by the Scorrie path up the northern shoulder, avoiding Corrie Fee where I reckoned heavy snow might be sitting (actually we met some guys who'd come up through the coire and said there was no problem). But it would also be a different ascent for us. Up by the treeline initially then a steady pull up the shoulder. By 650m ice axe and crampons were definately useful to have - quite a steep ascent here. Clag came down and we were once again in the land of the white out as we ascended towards the summit. Wind was blisteringly cold - we dug out modest shelter by the cairn but it was a quick lunch, no lingering today. I had originally hoped to include the nearby Sim Hill of Strone, but conditions were not favourable for luxury items :lol:

ImageDSC00518 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00519 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00520 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00521 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00523 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00524 by Al, on Flickr

We proceeded towards Shank of Drumfollow (a longer descent than either of us recalled) then on along the fenceline to Mayar, gaining some visibility along the plateau, snowshoes uesfully replacing crampons. Saw no-one else save the 3 guys early in the walk, so guessing most folk did Mayar and called it a day. We returned to Shank of Drumfollow and took the Kilbo path down into the glen. Quite an exhilarating day out, a good circuit in wintry conditions. Followed by a nasty drive in sleet back down to Greenock.

ImageDSC00527 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Mayar
ImageDSC00528 by Al, on Flickr

Descent
ImageDSC00530 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00531 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00534 by Al, on Flickr
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1745
Munros:205   Corbetts:192
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Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

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