Monday, 4 January 2010

New Year hillwalk - 1 Jan 2010

D and I went for a walk up An Caisteal on New Year's Day.  We were up fairly early and arrived by daybreak.  The going was easy at first as the trail was already broken and the snow not as deep as in the East.  The higher we got the more scoured were the slopes and a wee interesting step saw us approaching the summit just in time for lunch and the cloud clearing to give us nice views of the hills to the West and Lomond to the South.
We decided to carry on to Beinn a Chroin seen as there was still plenty day left and I was glad we chose to as it's a fine hill. 
There is a nice scrambly section on the approach to Beinn a Chroin from Caisteal where you can make it as easy or hard as you like, with us choosing to head up a ramp with a couple of grade I sections.  I couldn't be bothered getting my axe out but it was such a short section and I had crampons on, and decided a slip wouldn't take me anywhere dodgy so just used hand and poles.
There were a few false summits ahead, which was frustrating as I'd stop at a cairn thinking I was there, only for D to say the top was further on.
The tops were even more scoured here and it was amazing seeing the sculptures and dunes made out of the wind blasted snow.  Much of the wind blasted stuff was rock hard neve and I'm sure that N facing cliffs around these parts would have bomber turf just now.  The scramble up also had little sections of hanging ice.
We chose to come down the N facing spur, changing our mind half way down and dropping into Coire Earb instead as we had spotted what we thought to be a path down there.
Ugh, it was horrible!  The snow wasn't as deep as our previous trips out but my knee was giving me a good bit of grief and I tried to stick to patches where the tufts of grass were poking through so as not to break through and wrench the knee.
Finally we were down and
'Aaaaaaah,' I thought, 'not long till we're back to the van.'
I could see the woods and road below but it seemed to take forever and a day to get down there!  There were a good few streams to jump or cross and even though we found a trail, the going still wasn't the easiest.
We came across a few tents surrounded by a marvellous igloo made out of snow bricks and complete with arched doorway.  All it was lacking was a roof (but the tents would suffice for that)
There had been a Scouts van in the carpark so we assumed the tents were theirs.  Looked like a good spot to camp and nice to see them out there.

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