Monday, 21 November 2016

Snow Hunt - Glen Affric

Very excited going into our first winter in the Highlands and snow has arrived in the last couple of weeks. From my work place at the local hospital I can see Ben Wyvis to the North and this appeared plastered in snow. The West got the most snow this last week and it was fun trying to work out what and where to go - so many options.

Under starters orders at first light..
The weekend weather forecast was great so we had an early start of and headed to Glen Affric. -6 as we set off, and I was glad of the winter tyres driving down the dark frosted and snow covered roads.

When we arrived a father and son were unloading ski's from their car, the hills looked very white and I thought.... should I have brought my ski's...

Skiers having similar snow issues to us!

We set off from the Chisholme bridge next to Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin planning to go up the two Eastern munro's of Glen Affric, Toll Creagach and Tom a' Choinich. Heading up the track to the new hydro scheme we made good initial progress and gains on the skiers.

At the col

The munro we abandoned tantalisingly close behind Abi
The weather was perfect with low wind, crisp, cold with sunny blue skies. However once off the hydro track the going was brutally challenging, ranging from 6" deep snow, dense heather/bog to many hours of trudging through soft snow that was knee deep and you never knew if you would hit a rock, fall in a hole etc.

Progress was slow and it took much longer to reach the col between the two munro's than expected. The skiers looked like they were having an equally challenging time, potentially easier ascending than us, but the terrain was so full of rocks/hole/streams I doubt very much that they would achieve much skiing on the way back. We saw them ?leave their ski's and go for a scramble up a soft snowy ridge on Tom a' Choinich.

Summit fever

Finally we reached the col and were rewarded with magnificent views in all directions. After food we made the sensible 'call' to change our plans and just head straight for Toll Creagach. After some okay walking and further knee deep wading we achieved the top! Fantastic views, and we were both surprised to be able to see Inverness, the Kessock Bridge and drilling platforms in the Cromarty Firth through binoculars from the top.

Down hill wading (Abi stuck)
Heading down was a little easier, but track/pathless with much wading in deep snow and falling in holes. When we finally hit the hydro track and easier walking the sun was just setting and we were both glad we had ditched the second hill as it was just getting dark as we arrived at the van. -5 when we left the van, -3.5 when we got back! Before heading home it was great to 'use' the van for the first time, sit in the back make a cup of tea and relax for half an hour.... A great but hard day out.

Last of the light

The joy of the van....!

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