Winter. Snow cover wind scoured, icy in places. White out 600mtrs. Very windy. Final summit in darkness
Drumochter West. Skis in the car . . . stayed in the car. Any notions of ski touring this quad were put to rest when we saw the patchwork of heather across the hillsides. We initially regretted our decision to walk, as we punched through the snow up to our knees repeatedly. All was redeemed when we approached the rocky summits, though – there’s no way we would have been able to continue on skis so turns out we made the right choice, after all!. No points for that, though, we still had zero visibility on the summits! The plateau tops of these peaks makes finding the true top rather difficult, especially with visibility so poor. We spread out on a few occasions – close enough to see each other but far enough that we stood a chance of finding a cairn – walking parallel until one of us spotted something that looked like it had some potential of being a summit marker! We took multiple photos of us with various cairns to ensure we didn’t have to retrace our steps later in the year!
This was superb example of diagnoses we pinched from the Scottish Hills Forum:
Munrosis Paranoia Particularus: Not a separate condition as such but a set of symptoms which may become acute towards the end of a Munrosis cycle, or after a long day of mountaineering in Drumochter with zero vis! Sufferers can be identified wandering to every cairn on a flat summit or revisiting hills already done “just to be sure”. Jamie, on the other hand, was soon more inclined to be inflicted by Munrosis Drumochterus: The complete opposite of Munrosis Paranoia Particularus and named after the first reported incidence during the Munro in a Year Challenge. The sufferer has been studying lists too intensely leading to an adverse affect on the eyesight so that they become incapable of seeing a difference in height between cairns if they are any more than 2 feet apart. Sufferers will still maintain that they are able to discern summits in white-outs with the phrase “That’ll do”.
The final summit was a test of Andy’s winter nav skills, as he followed a bearing from about 3km in a white out at night. If I didn’t know he’s not magic I would think he’s magic! We literally bumped into the final trig point as Andy dropped to his knees, relieved and reassured that even when it feels like we’re walking around in circles, sticking to a bearing really does pay dividends! Our descent would have been slightly speedier with skis, though we couldn’t have let it all out given that poor visibility reigned supreme and going over an edge would have been all too easy.
Summit of Geal Charn
Summit of a’ Mharconaich
Writing out the number on Hard earned Summit of Sgairneach Mhor
Once back on relatively solid ground the landrover track back to the main road seemed endless, though we got there eventually. Jamie stuck on a pair of running shoes to jog back to the car (a few km down the road). Just as I got to the car I was offered a lift (an embarrassing moment when I got in the van in a layby, we drove about 3 metres, and I realised we were in the layby with our car! Oops!).
Dinner and night in the Glenmore Youth Hostel, with free (out of date, but who cares?!) M&Ms at reception
Could have been a lovely night’s sleep but Jamie realised around 11:30, in getting ready for the next day, that her precious purple headtorch was missing. Fearing that it had dropped in the layby it was a 45-minute drive there and back again, only to confirm it was nowhere to be found. Sad day losing something purple!