Munro challenge No.3. – Ben Chonzie 

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Just 4 of us today 27/12/16, 2 guys and 2 gals, a drive off up into the mountains with an early start at 8am to make sure we caught as much daylight as possible on this cold but clear winters day. A great way to lift the spirits (literally) during the festive period, which can be an awkward time of year for some, certainly for me, so I was very glad for this healthy distraction. 
As we pulled up at the car park we were not alone in our decision to tackle this summit today, another couple of lads were just leaving and likely laughing or wondering what crazy folks we were as we begun our day dancing in the car park to the Eagles, which J had pumping out of his van…nothing like a bit of joviality to start the day! 

Hiking kit on and we were off, snow covered mountains all around and looking forwards to this expedition with my newly found comrades. It’s amazing how fast a bond can be formed with like minded souls on such a trip. New friends, new challenges to conquer and new skills to learn.

This was a comparitively straight forward ascent for the most part, following a well established path that wound back and forth higher and higher into the mountains exposing amazing views of snow caps. 

The higher we got the more ice and snow covered the path and the colder the winds got too, so hoods and zips up time. Once we got so far the footsteps we’d been following in the snow on the path went off piste and hence so did we,  walking through a more potentially marshy hillside section now but it was snow covered so care had to be taken if you didn’t want to put your foot into a bog! This is where the hiking poles come in very handy.

We were getting nearer the summit now, it, along with another few bodies walking in the distance was now in sight. The next section we crossed over was frozen snow and pretty slippy, luckily I’d put on a cheap pair of grips on my boots, they helped a little but later kept slipping off my boots and becoming more of a hindrance, something to upgrade for future winter excursions! 

Along a wide exposed section of mountain now and we were there, a small whiskey swig taken by all as we toasted our next accomplishment! 

Time for some food and re-adjustments to clothing i.e. waterproof trousers on top, to keep the sub zero windchill that was now hitting me at bay. This proved to be quite a challenge as my fingers had decided to go numb and I had to get my boots/gaiters/grips off before I could get the trousers on! Learning curve as I watched D with her ones with a flap that opened at the bottom with studs so she didn’t have to go through such shenanigans! Lol! 
Our lovely gentlemen friends were quite the chivalrous and proceeded to pack snow into the small stone made shelter at the summit so we could all sit out the wind to re-fuel and sort ourselves out for the decent! 

It was bloomin’ freezin’, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been in such cold, but the views were amazing, my companions were fun to be around and those things combined seemed to negate any effects I might usually feel encountering that status. 

Some food eaten with totally numb fingers and toes beginning to join them in that feeling, it was time to get moving and get my circulation pumping some warmer blood into those areas. D & J had already headed off as I was trying to get my grips back on my shoes, to no avail, so just abandoned that idea and managed without them. Part of the mountain here was clear of snow and I decided to jog for a bit to catch up with the others and attempt to defrost my fingers & toes, it worked, but then turned round and my buddy had vanished! Turned out he had just headed over to take some pics and came back into view but there was just a moment of concern and subsequent relief as he came back into view. 

The decent now was through snow and marshy hillside off piste and not trodden on. We took the non-tourist route back down “to make it more fun” the guys said! Lol! And yes, I guess it did turn out to be fun as we bounded about in the deep snow and even did a bit of ice axe stop practice, but it wasn’t so much fun when first my right foot managed to find itself in a hidden stream that was running down the mountain, and just after getting one waterlogged foot out proceeding to then plunge my other foot in also! Lol! Two wet cold feet, yuk, but after a while they warmed up and I hardly noticed the conditions they were now walking in! 

Wasn’t long before we got back on the path for the last leg back down, passing the snow Angel that D had made on the way up, our stamp on the landscape for that day! 

Another Munro bagged, my no.3 and another great day out with my fellow mountain people, my new found tribe…

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