Route: Lochnagar from Glen Muick

Munros: Lochnagar

Date walked: 08/12/2008

Saturday th December - My first winter walk.

My intention for today was to complete more than one munro however as we entered the car park at Glen Muick (0730) it became clear that was very ambitious given the amount of snow on the ground. Even though you could not have asked for better weather conditions, clear blue sky and mild temperature, we knew we had to adjust our route.

Having never completed a proper winter walk we decided to follow the Lochnagar circuit and leave the others for a better day. We got ready and set off at around 0820, heading down the reserve path towards the estate cottages - heavy snow followed by rain and freezing temperatures had left the path incredibly slippery so the first part of this walk was not fun to say the least. Upon reaching the path through the woods our pace picked up and we clawed back some time, until we broke through the tree's to discover 6-8 inches of snow covering the pathway to Clais Rathadan - walking through this depth of snow was seriously affecting our pace. Things got from bad to worse as we turned onto the path towards Meikle Pap to find the snow had increased in depth to around 12-15 inches - much more in places, it was not uncommon to find myself waist deep at times. We eventually reached the foot of "the ladder" and stopped for a well earned drink.

We seemed to be the only hikers on so far, everyone else was taking on a variety of ice climbs. This meant that there was no "path" up the ladder. After serious consideration we decided it was to good a day to turn around and set off up the edge of the ladder - not the most comon route however it had the most rocks and was best for judging snow depth, which had now increased to an average of around 18 inches. Carefully treading our path we made our way up using walking poles to test snow depth and checking for secure footing. After about 45 minutes we reached the top of the ladder. As we reached the top we could see no foot prints in the snow, we were the first today. Usually the path towards Cac Carn Beag diverts away to the left and cuts back in towards the summit, today we decided on an alternate route. We set off keeping a line alone the ridge of the corrie (roughly aroung 15 metres) and slowly made our way towards Cac Carn Mor before eventually reaching the summit of Cac Carn Beag at about 1300 - a break has never felt so well earned. By now there were a number of groups following our route up the mountain so we decided to set off and remain ahead.

Facing a dilema, do we head home or head to Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach? Sense prevailed and we headed off towards the waterfall at Craig Moseen. As the path was covered by about 12-14 inches of snow we had to best judge our route to the bottom, generally we followed the river down to the bridge. This however was a complte nightmare, never knowing what you were standing on, never knowing how deep the snow was(waist deep in many areas) and endlessly falling over risking breaking legs. It took us 2 hours to reach the little bridge that crosses the river before you begin your descent by the side of the waterfall. After another hour we had finally reached the woods at Glas-allt-Sheil, 1600 and all between us and the car was the "easy" walk in along the path aside the loch. Again the pathway was hard ice and near impossible to walk on - coming to the car took us 80 minutes! Finally at 1720 we were back at the car completely knackered.

As we sat n the car we noticed 11 cars still parked and 1 car of guys getting suited up - this was mountain rescue, the groups behind us (apart from 1 that had passed) were all still on the mountain. The car told me the temperature was -2, without a doubt it was colder up there and it was now pith dark. We set off homeward and hoped we did not hear about any incidents on the news.

Winter walking is certianly not for the feint-hearted and I would advise that your physical conditioning is at it's peak - even as I sit now my legs are still agony. I cant ever remember them feling this sore? Having said that, I cant wait to get out there again.

*Photo's to be uploaded during the week

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Comments: 11

Cac Carn Beag

Munros: Lochnagar
Date walked: 17/11/2008
Comments: 7
Views: 9029


Location: Aberdeen
Place: Cairngorms
Ideal day out: A long walk over varied terrain while competing against anything else the mountain can throw at me.

Munros: 6

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Trips: 2
Munros: 2

Joined: Nov 13, 2008
Last visited: Sep 11, 2019
Total posts: 38 | Search posts