1 Munro down, 281 to go!
I walked Schiehallion with a mentor of mine who has several decades of experience in the Highlands under her belt. We drove from Edinburgh to the Braes of Foss car park and walked the usual path from there. In the valley, it was still and fairly clear, but looking up the hill, we could see snow and fast-moving clouds.
At about 600m, we began to feel the weather -- there was a light spattering of rain and rising wind -- and by 700m, we were in the clouds.
There was a long period of silent climbing. It was cold and slippery, but we were well-prepared with layers, snacks, and Kahtoola microspikes for our boots. In the midst of this serenity, the best moment for me was spotting a ptarmigan in the snow just to the right of the path. As a kid in America, I used to flip through my grandparents' bird ID books, and I always liked ptarmigans for their funny names and 'cute' appearances; I had never seen one in person before. Sadly, I didn't get any photos before it flew off.
The weather got worse and worse as we approached the summit, and the visibility was getting poor. We met a couple and their dog about 15 minutes from the summit who warned us to don another layer if possible, telling us that we weren't far, but we wouldn't want to stay long.
That proved to be true -- we pushed on to the summit, but with freezing rain and hail pelting us and soaking through our layers, we turned right back around. I didn't dare take out my phone lest it blow out of my hands, so my last photo is from the descent, once we had left the worst of the clouds and wind:
It turns out the two groups we had spotted behind us turned back before the summit, so it was a quiet trip down. We were soaked through but exhilarated by the time we returned to the carpark. All in all, a great first Munro experience!
Followed by the obligatory trip to the pub in Pitlochry, of course, where we sat by the fire and warmed ourselves up.
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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.