Our blog - Glenshee Munros, 17-18 Feb'18

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Glenshee Munros

17-18 February 2018
A weekend of winter-walking up the Munros surrounding Glenshee. Emma O'Shea and Steven Fallon were leading....

Day 1

A snowy weekend in Glenshee ! The forecasted conditions were good, perhaps a bit misty to start, but clearing in the afternoon. Light winds too and lots of snow cover. Sounds perfect for some hiking up high.

We both met the group at the highest point of the A93, just south of the Glenshee Ski Centre. The original plan was to have met at the ski centre, but with the fine forecast this was shelved as we knew the centre would be incredibly busy with skiers - and how right we were. Great to see so many people out enjoying the outdoors.

With the avalanche forecast being moderate-considerable depending on the direction of slopes, rather than skirting around Glas Maol to head for Creag Leacach, we opted to head straight up towards Glas Maol and see what the conditions were like. The mist was right down to just above the car-park and very quickly were into the cloud. There was lots of drifted snow on the hill, which had a fairly hard surface crust and the walking uphill was hard work - Emma was initially breaking trail. We were passed by a couple of ski tourers before the plateau. Navigation was hard too - a relief to see the posts leading to the summit, where we met the ski-tourers again.

Not much shelter up here ! So, after a short break on the summit, we set off. The plan had been to head for Creag Leacach from here, but there was a strong breeze whipping snow into our faces, so better to keep this at our back and we headed north instead in search of our next Munro, Cairn of Claise. With full-white out conditions lots of navigation was needed - we both double checked bearings and timings as we went - and we were very happy the weather was in our backs. Getting to Cairn of Claise, the view was much the same as that from Glas Maol - complete white in all directions !

Change of plan next. It was pretty hard going underfoot, so having a bit of discussion about timings, conditions and expectations, a group decision was made to not take in Tolmount and Tom Buidhe today (Steven - we'll try and put on an event combining these two Munros with Dreish and Mayar from the Glen Doll side). We headed off into the white-out towards Carn an Tuirc. As we crossed the col between the 2 hills we had our first break in the clouds giving us a view back into Coire Kander - woohoo, things were looking up !

There were some more breaks on Carn an Tuirc's summit and as we started our descent we were soon walking in glorious sunshine ! Although the rest of the Mounth remained shrouded in mist we had a very enjoyable hour sliding down the snow in the February sunshine. Steven willingly headed off at a run to go and bring a vehicle down from the ski centre to the base of the hill to save the rest of us the long walk back up the road.

Day 2

Optimism was high for views on our second day ! We met at the top of the road again, just as cloud started to pull in on Carn Aosda. "It'll lift" - we tried to convince ourselves, the forecasts tell us so ! We opted for a direct ascent up The Cairnwell - we'll get the hard bit done first. The low cloud blew in earlier than anticipated and it wasn't long before we were back to walking in white-out conditions on the steep climb up to the summit of the Cairnwell.

The summit masts looked unusually attractive covered in a thick coating of snow and ice. Compasses out, we passed the top of the ski runs, skiiers not managing to get up much speed due to the lack of visibility. After a bit, we left the ski-runs behind, changed direction and headed off into the white-out towards Carn a'Gheoidh. Occasionally the sun tried to appear through the clouds but most of the time we were in thick cloud. There were a handful of ski tourers and snow-shoers about too with great snow cover for these modes of transport, walking though remained tough again today !

A welcome stop at Carn a'Gheoidh's summit cairn, we were briefly joined by other walkers appearing out of the mist. Retracing our steps, quite literally, back towards the ski runs, there was a bit of fun enjoyed sliding about at the nick above Loch Vrotachan. As the ski fences and first of the skiers and ski patrol loomed out of the mist we started our final climb of the weekend up towards Carn Asoda - suprising quite tricky to navigate to in the mist !

It was very cold on the summit, though we did get a brief view down Glen Clunie towards Braemar, but the cloud didn't break for long. We opted to descend parallel to one of the ski tows on the edge of the ski centre and made the most of the snow to enjoy some speedy slides down the hill - Ron did almost take Gary out with one of his famed slides ! A final section of snow bashing saw us back to the road and the end of our second 3 Munro day.

More photos by Steven Fallon are here on Flickr.

More photos by Steve Croft are here on Flickr.

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