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Addicted to Recovery (121) A Wintry Glas Tulaichean.

Addicted to Recovery (121) A Wintry Glas Tulaichean.


Postby UrbanExplorer » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:02 pm

Munros included on this walk: Glas Tulaichean

Date walked: 15/02/2018

Time taken: 7.42 hours

Distance: 21 km

Ascent: 714m

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Munro (Year Total) 1 -

I have always wanted to summit a Munro in the winter months, so when at the start of the year I set myself a challenge of completing 50 in 2018 I thought it would be an ideal way to start my count.

Now I was well aware that winter high tops walking on Scotland is dangerous and can be quite extreme, I also knew that I didn't have the skill, confidence or some of the equipment to do it alone, so I thought the best option would be to go as part of a group.

I live very close to Falkirk and the community trust team has one of the best and probably the cheapest winter programs in Scotland, so I visited their offices and I was soon booked onto a trip to Glas Tulaichean. At a price of £35 which includes transport and the hire of any equipment you need I thought it was a steel, the fuel costs alone for me to drive up to Glenshee would have been £20.

So the long awaited day arrived, I drove up to their offices for 7am, where I met our guide Craig and the other 6 participants, it was a good mix of people, mostly with more hill experience with me. I was also quite surprised to find out that at nearly 50 I was the 2nd youngest, most of the others being in the over 60 bracket.

The day before I'd taken the opportunity to test my winter layering system, all was good. The only equipment I would need would be crampons, an ice axe and some goggles, I was also persuaded to try some poles as well, with these quickly sorted and packed away, we were off in the minibus and on our way north to the Spittal of Glenshee.

The traffic was surprising light and after a wee stop in Blairgowrie for a comfort break and some coffee, we arrived in Glenshee and the turn off for the Dalmunzie House Hotel. Craig is here quite often during the year so he has a prior arrangement with the management about parking, heading up the single track road towards the hotel the fresh coating of snow was quite deep, the drive in down the hill might be easy, but with the forecast to be for more snow the drive out could be a problem. So after a word with a hotel employee who had been tasked with trying to keep the road open with his 4x4, we turned around and decided to park back at the main road close to the bridge.

After a last check of every bodies equipment we were on our way by 9:40, as you can see the road was already under a good coating of snow as we walked in towards the hotel.
Image20180215_094135 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr
Image20180215_094211 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

The further we walked in the snowier the landscape became.
Image20180215_094541 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

The views soon start to open up and you get to see a little more of the fantastic winter scenery.
Image20180215_204352 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

The sheep cowered in the corner of their pen, they must have known the weather was coming in.
Image20180215_204318 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

Soon enough we turn a corner and pass by the hotel on our left. You could tell it's a busy hill walking spot, the hotel has kindly erected a large sign telling hill walkers to go right.
Image20180215_204416 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

We're soon nearing the last 2 buildings on the road when we are directed left through a gate into a field way marked with posts. Glen Lochsie opens up before you.
Image20180215_102243 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr
Image20180215_103528 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr
Image20180215_103534 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr
Image20180215_204445 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

We eventually find the old Dalmunzie railway trackbed, we follow that rather than the boggy hill path up into the glen.
Image20180215_110922 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

As we head towards the old Glenlochsie lodge for some quick refreshments, it starts to darken as the clouds block the light.
Image20180215_112541 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

Beautiful ice sculptures as we cross the burn.
Image20180215_112623 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

A quick look back down the glen as we leave the lodge and start to head upwards.
Image20180215_154230 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

Soon enough the weather begins to come in, the views around us start to disappear into a haze of cloud and snow.
Image20180215_124333 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

With the wind and snow blowing from our left we start the long climb towards the summit. Although there is at most times an easily followed wide track, it has been excavated to provide an easy path for summer walkers, so the snow has drifted into its depths at times 50-60cm deep. With Craig and I taking turns breaking track we skirt the path the best we can, using heather, rock or even ice to keep the walking as easy as we can. I've never used walking poles before, but I must admit they do certainly make your walking more efficient and steady, I was even using them to asses the depths of the snow as we walked on and up.

Up until this point I was thinking that I could quite happily have done this alone, but as we near the corrie (Glas Choire Mhor) on the eastern face, the wind picks up to 30-35mph and we're in a blizzard and total whiteout, I happy for Craig to take the lead for the final climb to the summit.

At last we are up on top, a blizzard surrounding us, even with 8 of us hunting for the trig point we struggled to find it, eventually we use a GPS map, only to find it 3m to our side.
Image20180215_135225 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

Only one picture from up here, I tried for the obligatory summit shot of myself, my camera was having none of it. The wind and snow were blowing, it was easily 10-15 below, even after only 10-20 seconds of exposure my fingers were stinging.

We gathered in a close group while Craig gave us our final instructions for descent.
Always make sure you can see the person in front and behind you, check regularly.
Don't wander away from the track he is breaking.
If you lose the person in front stop, gather in a group and shout as loud as you can.
If you lose the person behind you, stop, shout on Craig and wait.
Have fun.

We started the descent, Craig in front pacing out 1km compass in hand. The tip of my nose looks like it's glowing :lol:
Image20180215_141117 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

Roughly a kilometer later we stop and regroup to check on everybody.
Image20180215_142729 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

Everyone well we continue on, Craig leading us down in to the white in front of us.
Image20180215_144052 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr
Image20180215_150901 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

At last features start to reappear.
Image20180215_150931 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

We head down to the lower slopes.
Image20180215_154230 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

We reach the lodge and break for a breather and coffee, I find more ice sculptures.
Image20180216_171355 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

We leave the lodge and head back down the railway trackbed.
Image20180215_160650 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

The surrounding views return in their glorious winter coating.
Image20180215_163053 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr
Image20180215_163057 by IainHamiltonPhotography, on Flickr

We walk down and out, eventually reaching the road and then the minibus at 17:20. Just over 13 miles and nearly 8hrs of type 2 fun on the hill.

Now that really does beat, by a long way, any sort of excitement I used to get from drugs or alcohol.

Still Living "Just For Today"
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Last edited by UrbanExplorer on Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Addicted to Recovery (121) A Wintry Glas Tulaichean.

Postby NeepNeep » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:28 pm

Been waiting for your first 2018 Munro report....It's great to see. :clap: :thumbup: I'm really enjoying them.

Very snowy conditions and true "Scottish" weather. Probably a good thing Craig was there for you - navigation in whiteout is something else. Funny you were so close to the trig and still couldn't find it. Had a similar experience on Carn Sgulain in December which in my book is....well let's not go there! Anyway, plateau is about 400x200m with only the smallest pile of stones to mark the "summit" - took us a long time to find that and relied on GPS to help after 10mins of "boxing" to find it and failing. Even then we walked past another possible "summit" once we left..... :crazy: :shock:

Glad you are up-ing the stakes....look forward to some more. Only 49 to go......easy!!

:clap:
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Re: Addicted to Recovery (121) A Wintry Glas Tulaichean.

Postby dav2930 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:28 pm

Cracking report. Well done on your first winter Munro in challenging conditions. That Community Trust winter programme sounds brilliant; a great way to gain winter experience safely. :clap:

I couldn't help chuckling when you described how difficult it was to find the trig point, as I had a similar experience when I went up Glas Tulaichean back in March 2014. Like you, I'd navigated carefully through a whiteout and when I reached the summit area I kept my eyes pealed for the trig point but just couldn't see it. I checked my GPS, according to which I was right at the summit. Looking all around I couldn't see the slightest sign of a trig point. Then I looked down and noticed a slight roughness in the surface of the snow, which prompted me to scrape at it with my boot. Lo and behold, the top of the trig point emerged; I was standing right on top of it! :lol:

Cairngorms Feb-March 2014 038.JPG


Cairngorms Feb-March 2014 040.JPG
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Re: Addicted to Recovery (121) A Wintry Glas Tulaichean.

Postby Coop » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:46 pm

Brilliant and well done to you all. I've bailed a few times in a whiteout.

Just a contrast for some others here really. I did Glas tulaichesn and Carn an Righ last summer and it took me about 8 hrs for the 22 odd kms.
Timings go up considerably in winter and that and a whole lot of other factors come into play. Be safe folks.
And enjoy.

Well in again.
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Re: Addicted to Recovery (121) A Wintry Glas Tulaichean.

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:03 pm

A great read, and good to see you start your 2018 push with a tough one! It looks seriously wintery on those pics.

You've also got to see how hairy it can become in winter conditions within just a few minutes - great experience (unless you're like me: very slow to learn :roll: ). Whiteouts are really tough to navigate (at least without GPS), but it's good to see that when you're in a strong group.
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