Car Temp Reading: -12.5
Time Spent Scraping Ice from the INSIDE of the car: 17 minutes
Andy’s Best Idea of the Challenge: Filling a flask with boiling water the night before the morning after
Stats of the Day: 11 Munros; 40 km; 1600m ascent; 13 hours
We were a bit later getting started than planned following the struggle to move from the snugginess of the sleeping bags in the car, followed by the unanticipated time spent clearing the windows so Andy could drive. Joe was joining us for the day and must still owe favours after Gaynor helped us set up the car shuttle at 0615 outside Braemar when she could still have been in her bed, before driving us all the way to Glenshee for our 0715 start. It was still about -11 degrees, but at least that was good motivation to get ourselves going (if for no other reason than we needed to let Gaynor get back into the heated car before she froze!).
The forecast proved remarkably accurate and we had a sunny, windless day with unprecedented visibility. Jamie was chuffed because not only did it mean we could move much more quickly by being able to see, but she got to sport her new purple Oakleys ALL day!
The first ascent got our blood pumping and we were joined by a few snow hare who watched on from afar.
After our initial ascent of Creag Leacach, the time between each of the subsequent Munros was about an hour – largely depending on how much trouble Andy or Jamie had with their skin glue at any given time. Apparently it doesn’t love below-freezing temperatures and we had the skin glue out a few times to keep us moving forward rather than sliding backwards!
Joe gave a miss to Carn an Tuirc to bathe in the sun – a remarkable opportunity in the Scottish mountains in winter (or, let’s be honest, anytime of year!) and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor to take advantage of the photo opportunities by taking his time a wee bit more to Carn a’ Choire Bhoideach. The day had included a bit more thirsty work than expected so we had all run out of water, though Jamie was enjoying snow popsicles along the way. Rest assured, though, Jamie definitely didn’t run out of snacks!
The best alpine descents of the day were from Tom Buidhe, with some great opportunity to make freshies on quality, consistent powder; and Lochnager, which helped us swiftly cover a few kilometres just as it was getting dark. Stunning evening to be out in the hills!
Jamie really struggled with the last hour on the flattish track leading back to the car. We had 6 kilometres on the forest track during which time Jamie thought she was skiing but actually she was secretly having her toes smashed with a sledge hammer. At least that’s how it felt! Andy and Joe tried to make her feel better by pointing out that the state of the track – filled with crusted-over boot holes – was much easier for them on long skis than for her on baby skis, but they were probably just trying to be nice. Luckily we made it back to the car and to Ballater with just enough time for Joe to convince the restaurant owner to stay open for us to have well-deserved pizzas! That was only after we proved how anal we could be to de-ice and dry our skis, seeing as we were technically putting them into our bedroom for the night!
For those who might be attempting this route in future, it might be helpful to know that Nordic gear would have been absolutely fine, if not preferred – depends if you’d be happy missing out the few swishable descents for the sake of being much more efficient and comfortable on the many flatter sections.
Today felt like quite an amazing achievement . . . a full day out needing sunglasses ski touring in Scotland! Oh, and we summited our highest number of Munros in a day thus far in the challenge! Woop! Decided we/Jamie’s toes needed a day off so we treated ourselves to the next day off, sleeping in our car-house into the next afternoon, before having a much-needed planning meeting to work out future route options.