Friday, 3 March 2017

'The wrong kind of snow'

Mick, David and I had a day out on the Lochearnhead Corbetts last week. Original plans for a multi-day trip up north had been scaled back for various reasons, not least a dismal weather forecast, but something is usually better than nothing so we took advantage of a slender weather window to grab a day trip instead. Lochearnhead is fairly close to home for all of us with some new territory to explore, so seemed an obvious choice.

I seem to spend a lot of time on Corbetts these days, maybe because I've climbed almost all the Munros in easy reach of the central belt. But never mind the box ticking: hills like this Lochearnhead pair deserve attention regardless. The SMC's guidebook for the Corbetts states that 'Creag MacRanaich is a hill of some character which, were it about 100m higher, would be among the better southern Munros'. So there. It certainly makes a bold statement when approached from the south, a steep exposed south face with a lot of exposed rock and some big overhangs.

It was sort of a generic poor weather day that I've experienced too many times to recall over the years, but interesting and worthwhile for all that. A clear and frosty start quickly clouded over - the snow came in on Creag MacRanaich and really got going on Meall an t-Seallaidh where we had near-whiteout conditions. We watched the snow subtly change through the day as the temperature changed, practised counting paces with mixed results, and came away with skills sharpened and maybe a little more in the bank should we ever find ourselves in a real situation. I also need to learn to roll up my faff into fewer heat and energy-sapping stops on the hill, and use those stops to do a little rucksack rearrangement, thinking a few moves ahead to what may be needed later (wind's picking up - move those goggles to the top of the pack!).

Oh and don't forget the exercise - we may have had 'the wrong kind of snow' as Mick said, too wet and soft for anything interesting like crampons or glissading, but floundering through waist-deep drifts and over buried streams gives a cardiovascular workout second to none.

Anyway, here are a few from the walk, before the weather closed in:

Meall an t-Seallaidh means 'hill of sight', thought to refer to the fine views from the summit. Not applicable today obviously, but here are a few from a visit in summer 2014 to fill in the blanks:

Loch Earn
Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin
Stob Binnein and Ben More

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