Mayar and Dreish, and the fear!

Munros: Driesh, Mayar

Date walked: 10/02/2013

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 15.6km

Ascent: 941m

It has been a wee while for a walk report from me. So I may as well start with a small adventure.

The weather on Friday evening was bleak for Saturday the 9th of February. It gave hope though for the east. Mayar and Dreish are on the edge of several reports and areas so was hard to judge. The MWIS(Mountain Weather Information Service) gave 60% clear on one report, 30% on another.

I was just going to have a wee trip to Tinto which is close to me. But I thought hmm munros.....

Lets do it!

5am I was up and getting ready I was on the road there by 6:30. The Glen Clova road is a lovely long tight road. This day though it did have the snow cleared but a wall of snow each side meant I was dreading meeting anything coming the other way.

A few nasty potholes too that would make a Landrover cringe, so be wary if you ever drive this road to Glen Doll.

I met no other coming my way and was treated to a Stag crossing my path! I had slowed for a pothole when across from the fields to my right about 30 yards ahead this huge beast leapt across.

The clova road, looks a bit snowy on the tops....

Reaching the car park all safe and sound there was a few other cars parked. Luxury of a toilet as well as an attended little ranger station, well worth the £2 fee.

car park

I had not been here before. Two more ticks were due. I had been concerned about the road in weatherwise, and figured snow on the tops, but perhaps not too bad......

I had the OS map. My awkward to use Etrex10. And now you may frown .......... no crampons, no axe.

I set my bearing to Corrie Fee. Off I went with the memory of the web reports as to my path to the Corrie. Full of smiles and solo adventuring joy. Two ticks were coming.

snowy top The Scorrie I think

Walking up the forest track was hard going. Due to snow. A lot of snow. You had that hard snow you walk over, that snow you slightly dropped into, and that snow you sunk into.

So walking was a mix of all and a bit huffing and puffing.

snow and more snow on the track

my wee sad face of more snow than expected

I arrived at Corrie Fee. Breaking out of the forest was quite a view. ...

Welcome to Corrie Fee.......

meet thy doom!

I was quite concerned as I saw my destination before me. I could see a rough zig zag route up the side of the waterfall. The back of my mind was saying, remember you have no axe, no crampons. I did pack the little Yaktrax ice grips as my boots are Scarpa 3 season and do not take a crampon. Yes! I know they are not crampons or even an alternative. I know. This is a tale of the stupid.

Corrie Fee - uninviting

The track toward the corrie was self evident and quite well foot printed. I could tell by some footprints snowfall had been recent and wind as they were covering over. Also the sections where they let the water run through the path, the gaps. A bit risky as some were well covered and I went down two of them. Both of which could easily cause a nasty accident.

On the path I stopped to admire some far more braver fellows than I am. And no doubt more sensible.

Climbers on I believe Corrie Sharroch.

see the tiny bodies on the rock?

zoomed in a little - can you see the climbers in the right side gully?

The mist and cloud was dropping and I had begun my ascent. I was heading for the waterfall and a tree that sticks out of the rock. From below a natural path seemed to follow that side up. Now on ascent I had no idea where the path was. I was following a rough footprint guide but that was fading also.

Amusingly I spotted Hare, with the Arctic coat on. One of them jogged a bit stopped, jogged a bit stopped, jogged a bit stopped, it actually went up the route that was later to be took! Perhaps it was offering a clue!

the cloud drops

The snow was good, I could kick into it fine and felt okay with the poles as well. But underneath was bemusing. Some moments I went thigh deep. Others I was kicked against rock and my wee toes were all I had to grip away from a slide. I am not ashamed that on this day I had a few moments of thigh n calves shaking with a bit of the fear.

I was beaten. Mayar was not to be. Corrie Fee I renamed Corrie Fear. I could not feel the path or see the path and the slope was beyond comfortable. Common sense was looming over me. Turning back was the sensible thing to do.

Behind me arrived a fellow walker. Brian from Aberdeen. We said our how do you dos and discussed the route toward that damned tree and waterfall.

It got to a point of too scary. The view down was just, oh stop looking that way. It felt so close yet so far. We decided to retrace back a bit and perhaps try the other route which was a bit more straight up.

I reckon we were about 244 748 ish on the map. Offering a route round the right of the outcrop or the left. The right we tried it was not fun. So retreat and review the left.

Where the Arctic hares had gone earlier.

Brian was proper kitted out and put the crampons on. He ascended the route first and the idea was to go right of the rock then hook left and judging by the map we were onto better ground after that.
I put on my yaktrax grippers which were okay and helped a little on grip.
The bonus was I could follow and kick into Brian's footsteps.

But it was a steep spot.

Brian and his trusty crampons!

the view behind!! - Yes not a fun slope to look down!

We did not demise and reached Mayar. The visibility was poor around about 20 metres at most. The effect off the blue haze on the snow as well as the grey all around starts producing the dots before your eyes. It has a bizarre effect in that you lose sense of the ground and the zone in front of you. I am guessing this is snow blindness and can see now how easy it would be to walk off an edge as visibility drops to feel almost like you are in a shower cubicle. A bit of blinking and looking around shakes it off.

This presented a new challenge. Navigation.

Other walkers were emerging out the mist and I felt better that the hills were to be occupied. On the top of Mayar had a chat with a fella from Glasgow and managed to get tips for the direction to Dreish.

First classic navigation error. As we came off Mayar and headed North East to turn east toward little Dreish. We ended up heading south and west again almost back to Mayar!

Quick map check and I checked with another walkers GPS that my Etrex was giving me proper grid refs - and we were cooking with gas.

By now we met people coming off dreish heading to Mayar and it was getting more popular, so footprints matched compass bearings and growing confidence in the GPS.

My main concern was to identify the route to the Drumwhallo Shank before Dreish so we could have a bearing to both as such. Visibility was really bad. No point of reference at all and the first time I am so glad I can use my GPS to give me that all important grid ref.

Dreish was busy. We had many hallos and I enjoyed the company of Brian from Aberdeen. I would have turned back if on my own. I was also tempted to quit at Mayar because of the weather and visibility, but Brian was eager for the ticks and I am glad we met and teamed up. This was not a day to be alone on the mountain.

hooray for Dreish!

The descent off Dreish was more straightforward, a bit steep too but there is a fence that you just follow down really, then turn off right near the bottom to join the path back into the forest.

just follow the fence down

poor day for the sights

Entering the forest and the path back to the car was good. A good feeling. A great feeling. Two novice walkers collide in a bad situation and manage to get two ticks together in adventurous conditions.

I may not meet Brian again but hope to one day bump into him on a nasty snowy slope. I will get winter boots and crampons for sure this year. I thank him indeed for his company and his eagerness to reach both tops, a bleak day became a great day for experience.

8 hours it was from start to finish - a long long day, but to date, two of my finest munros yet.

more walkers in the mist off the Kilbo Path

a day of low cloud but high adventure

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