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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.
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Winter wonderland at Ben Gulabin
by denfinella » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:34 pm
Route description: Ben Gulabin, Glen Shee
Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Gulabin
Date walked: 25/11/2017
Time taken: 3.5 hours
Distance: 6 km
Ascent: 450m2 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).
A good weekend weather forecast but snow had fallen over most of the hills. After pondering the Pentlands, we decided instead to tackle Ben Gulabin: a Corbett rising steeply above the Spittal of Glenshee. Driving north from Bridge of Cally, there was snow to glen level, but the road was clear. There's plenty of space for a few cars to park where the hill track leaves the A93, and there's a good stone base so little chance of getting stuck even when snow covered!
A few centimetres of powdery snow on the lower slopes of the hill, a degree or so above freezing, and plenty of running water - burns haven't frozen over yet. Underneath the snow, the track was stony and not icy - fortunate, given we'd accidentally left the spikes in the hallway!
From the first mile of the ascent there were great views in both directions along the glen. No-one else around apart from the odd car on the road far below: perfect!
Count the tracks:
A93 stretching away to the north:
A solitary pylon from an old ski lift soon become visible on the horizon. We didn't immediately realise that the speckled hillside to the left was in fact dozens of red deer!
Rounding the side of the hill to start heading west, the wind began to blow a bit, though we were still fairly sheltered at this low level. View back - the hills below are part of the ridge running south from Creag Leacach:
So, easy going up to about the 600 metre mark, but then a left turn onto a rougher track heading directly up Ben Gulabin. A short stretch of frozen bog to step gingerly across to start with, then steeper but no bog.
Looking back over the approach track:
Having a breather:
Soon enough we were up on the summit plateau, with the predicted 30-40mph winds arriving as occasional gusts. It was just a case of waiting for each one to pass:
View west over upper Glen Shee:
There'd been hundreds of grouse flying around on the way up, but so far this was the closest we'd got to one on the ground:
We elected to head left to the (lower) east top first, which has better views. I was particularly struck by the views south-east down Glen Shee...
...not that the other directions were bad! North towards The Cairnwell:
Mountain hare - they're in the process of changing colour at the moment, with some completely white, some still brown and some in between.
This was the way ahead to the west (proper) summit. It didn't look too bad... except we encountered some waist deep drifts!
Tumbledown summit shelter:
We returned the same way, helped by a pair of sneakily-stashed sledges in our rucksacks. Unfortunately they didn't take too well to powder snow, and indeed the water bottle which fell out of my rucksack pocket in the process did a much better job of getting downhill quickly (retrieved later!). The start of the track down was difficult to find in the snow, but once on it was a bit better for sliding as the gradient was steeper. However the track here had some big boulders just under the snow. After sustaining a few bruises and a large hole (!) in one of the sledges from these, we decided to stick to the safer method of walking...
Once off the steep section, I stopped concentrating on where I was putting my feet and immediately slipped and cut my leg open on a sharp rock
Luckily OK to limp back to the car, though the grouse were laughing at my clumsiness:
Ice sculpture on the descent:
Fortunately the fall resulted in nothing more than a nasty bruise and a surface wound, so didn't put a damper on the day. In fact, we were back at the car by 2pm and had time for a quick drive up to the ski centre and a visit to Persie Distillery on the way home!
A grand day in the snow - think I might have caught the winter-walking-bug, so it might be time to start investing in some proper winter gear
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