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A wee breeze up An Socach
by PeteR » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:07 pm
Route description: An Socach from Glen Clunie
Munros included on this walk: An Socach (Braemar)
Date walked: 22/01/20122 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I’d had An Socach in mind for a long time now. The plan had always been to pick a glorious day and tackle the hill via Glen Ey – heading up onto Creag an Fhuathais and taking in the full length of the ridge before descending back into the Glen near Altanour Lodge. And I’d wanted a sunny day too if that was at all possible, but the day itself was a poignant one for me, as it marked a year since the loss of my mother. So the weather was really incidental this time. I was just looking to get away and lose myself in y memories.
On the drive up early Sunday morning I took the tactical decision to scrub the plans for a Glen Ey approach, but instead to follow the standard Glen Clunie approach. That way I could be sure of a path up onto the bulk of the hill - the forecast suggested to me that I might be best keeping to the beaten track that day.
I made an early “error” on this walk at the point I arrived at the empty Baddoch lodge. Rather than take the advice of ChrisW in his excellent report last year and not be tempted by the footbridge over the burn, but to head along the landrover track to the main An Socach baggers route I instead gave into the beguiling charms of the path making its way onto Sgor Mor and eventually onto An Socach proper.
To be honest I was more than happy with my route choice. There was a clear path all the way, which was only lost near the top in the thicker snow – and even then traces were visible in enough places to make it obvious in the thickening mist and spin drift where I should be heading. I wasn’t in a rush anyway, so it was a leisurely pace up onto this minor summit (well almost onto it. I traversed round just away from the very top itself). On the saddle before the final push to the top though I got a precursor of the “wee breeze” and “weather” to come throughout the rest of the walk Smashing
It may well just have been the effect of the weather, with the strength of the “wee breeze”, mist rolling in and out and the spindrift literally getting up my nose , but progress seemed slow even with my leisurely pace and I was sure everything looked steeper than the map suggested
There was a pattern emerging to the day though, which was to stay with me until later in the afternoon when the sky eventually cleared (and I was almost back at the car ). There would e a brief improvement in visibility which helped confirm the direction of travel. This would all too soon be replaced by the wee breeze picking up and the mist rolling in and obliterating everything. If I was lucky the spindrift would remove most of whatever visibility was left and attempt to blow snow up my nose with considerable force. Then the breeze would relent, visibility would improve and the cycle repeated
Normally I’d be thinking about bailing out in these conditions and coming back on a better day, but I was feeling remarkably calm and actually seemed to be enjoying the conditions. When the breeze and the spindrift were at their worst I simply chose to wait it out and then continue when things were a bit calmer.
From Sgor Mor a brief moment of visibility gave me a view of the route up to point 855 and to my left the narrow saddle between that and the bulk of An Socach. In the nice firm snow the going was easy, but the spindrift in the face was becoming a nuisance as the wind blew directly in my face.
Took a rest on the saddle, waiting for the breeze to die down a bit. Took a short video clip with which to scare MrsR with when I got home (it worked ).
Then it was a slow plod up onto An Socach and headed along the ridge.
More wind, clag and the inevitable spindrift Due to the layers I didn’t feel that cold, but the buff round my face was freezing in the wind chill Thank goodness I had no urge to answer any call of nature up there
The main ridge was a nice, easy stroll – even with the wind battering me from my right hand side. Perhaps it was just the effect of being trapped in the clag and spindrift for so long, but this apparent flat ridge seemed to go up and down more than I expected. Either that or I was zig-zagging along it and doubling the length of the ridge
After a short while two bodies appeared out of the mist ahead of me – two chaps walking back from the summit. Stopped for a brief chat and they suggested another 10 to 15 minutes and I’d be at the summit.
And so off I trotted into the continuing clag and spindrift........when a mini disaster struck
There weren’t many decent size patches of snow on the ridge, given it was so windswept. I was picking my way along the ridge aiming to avoid anything looking remotely icy or slippery. Unfortunately on one small patch of snow I crossed I discovered it was cunningly disguising a sheet of ice underneath. In the split second available to me to protect my rugged Anglo-Germanic features I put my hands out to break my fall. Unfortunately I was holding my ice axe in my right hand, which hit the ground hard in a clenched fist. The end result was quite some pain in one of my fingers. I knew instinctively it wasn’t good, but the pain wasn’t enough to make me think I’d broken anything. No point taking a closer look though, so, with nothing for it, I picked myself up and headed on to the summit
Somehow I managed to miss the shelter cairn and realised I was heading down off the hill. Time to stop again and wait for the wind to die down and some visibility to return. When it did, a few minutes later, I couldn’t believe just how close to the shelter I had been. Probably walked past about 60 feet from the shelter and couldn’t see it for love nor money
Spent a little while wandering round the summit in the vain hope that the cloud might break for me. No luck Time to head home. How often does it happen that just a few minutes from the summit the cloud that had tormented you for so long suddenly decides to clear? Now, I’m not saying that I was suddenly surrounded by wall to wall sunshine, but for a while I was getting something close to a view or two
As I wandered back along the summit I was completely lost i my own little world and perhaps not paying attention to where I was headed. The plan had been to retrace my steps and head back over Sgor Mor. What I eventually ended up doing was descending via the baggers route up over Socach Mor. Initially this threw me as I dropped out of the cloud. The weather in the glen looked to have deteriorated during the day and it took a moment or three to realise where I was. Then it was an easy stroll back to the landrover track via the burn Allt Coire Fhearneasg
By the time I was back on the track my finger was becoming more that a bit irritating So I thought I best take a quick peek. What a cracker Probably looked worse than it was and I’ll refrain from a full blown description, but it was clear I’d burst some blood vessels in there somewhere. Ho-hum, back on with the glove and head on along the track. “Wait ‘til MrsR sees that” I thought I'm pretty sure, just over a week on, that the finger nail will drop off eventually. I'll keep you all posted
Finishing the day walking back along Glen Clunie isn’t bad in my book and after a short stop near the lodge to admire the gee-gees and I was back at the car at the end of another great day on the hills
Now I'm off to do the next report
by Graeme D » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:10 pm
by ChrisW » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:49 pm
thanks for rekindling the memory of my wander up there when conditions were just a little better
by davetherave » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:54 am
Nice report once again.
by pigeon » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:34 pm
by jonny616 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:34 pm
by Redrock » Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:07 am
by CurlyWurly » Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:59 pm
by pollyh33 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:18 pm
As soon as you mentioned you were heading for the hills in remembrance of your mum, I knew we could expect a first class account of your day on An Socach.
You did her and yourself proud - well done, I really enjoyed this.
by PeteR » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:09 pm
Graeme Dewar wrote:Great report as ever Pete! An Socach seems to have featured a fair bit in reports recently!
Thanks Graeme. Seems Beinn Dearg at Blair Atholl has been the hill of choice this week
by PeteR » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:15 pm
ChrisW wrote:Another fine report Pete, if you'd followed my advice you could have had the shelter of the glen all the way I still enjoyed the pics (and trying to work out where exactly you where when taking em) even with the limited visibility, I think you chose the better route but the weather let you down. Hope the finger recovers well and your Mrs forgives you for the artic-esque video
Thanks Chris - good to see what I missed I was wondering where I was when I was taking my pictures too I think I'll go back on a good day and do the route I originally planned from Glen Ey. Then I might enjoy views like those tou did
by PeteR » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:17 pm
davetherave wrote:I hope this walk brought back many a fond memory for you peteR.!
Nice report once again.
Cheers Dave. Both my mum and my dad are always there in my thoughts when I'm out walking
by PeteR » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:19 pm
pigeon wrote:Well done pete,looked pretty wild on your video clip,how's the digit now ?:lol:
Cheers Pigeon. Two weeks on and the digit is still not right I thought it would be back to normal by now, but still a fair bit swollen and sore. I guess it's just a matter of giving it time (I hope )
by PeteR » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:20 pm
jonny616 wrote:Nice one Pete.Glad to see i'm not the only one to get great views from this hill
It's not the only hill I had these views from either It was more of the same, view wise, today too