Posts Tagged scenery

Munro Summit No.4. – Ben Lomond

Videolog 

A cool but clear day on 2nd January 2017, the new year had begun and it was time to continue as I’d left off in the previous year, climbing big huge hills to get to the top and climb back down again. 

At least with a goal like this I can usually see the summit, at least a destination of exactly where I am headed, not like the path of being a self producing hopeful artist where no defined finish points, maps or presumed journey times were to be found, just travelling in blind faith on some crazy self created test of endurance, striving to progress, find some notable success, job or a way into the life and/or love you always dreamed you’d find in your happy ending, which was often the only thing that drove your passion to keep going, to keep trying and not to give up! It sure wasn’t the pay check, that’s for sure! Lol! 

Mountains though, and being part of a small team, just putting one foot in front of the other, usually with a route already travelled or mapped out and led by a more experienced member of the group, now, this was to some extent an easier or even more pleasurable task at hand right now, everything else just seemed so up in the air in a whole different way than the summits were.

I was getting used to packing my kit now the night before and preparing for the early morning pick ups by one of my kind drivers from the team that would get me and my wee legs to the start point. This time it was just two of us on this lovely fresh winters day. 

The drive to Loch Lomond was surrounded by the sun rising in a clear sky and it was looking like just the perfect day to do it. We arrived at the start point and got on our way pronto, no messing about walking with this one, this guy was a lean mean hillwalking machine, the kind that ate mountain summits for breakfast and was ready for another mountain by lunchtime! Lol! His pace challenged me to keep up as we ascended the steep and quite rocky path, a couple of times I did have to call on a breather or stop to take the odd pictures recording the day for my videolog. 

Quite a relentless climb this one, requiring extra care and focus on icy patches hidden sometimes, just one small slip on the way up, enough to cause me to feel just that little bit more nervous of the footholds under me, after all, it hadn’t been that long since other injuries had prevented me from enjoying much exercise, so the last thing I wanted to do now was fall and hurt myself. 

It was getting colder as we got higher as is usual on these climbs, quite a busy tourist summit route this one, we certainly were not alone on our quest to bag this Munro that day, which for the most part had been providing us with clear views over the Loch and surrounding landscape. However as we were approaching the last leg a large thick cloud began to come down to greet us and by the time we got to the criag at the top all we could see was cloud and it was pretty darn cold, windy and a fine blizzard of snow was also now adding itself into the windchill factor.

No hanging about at the top except for the standard summit picture and we began quite a speedy decent to make our way out these higher level conditions rather than stopping for lunch. Out the worst of it we stopped for a quick, much needed refuel and then headed back down the rest of the way. I found myself on the verges of grassy mounds rather than the stony path as I felt my feet were far more confident stepping there avoiding potential unseen ice patches, but still I found one and proceeded to do a short Torvell & Dean move before stopping on one knee! Another friendly gentleman climber was on his way down just behind me and offered his arm out to give me a welcomed hand up as I joked about my lack of ice dancing skills! That would thankfully be my 2nd and last slip for the day and the rest of the journey down was made unscathed! 

About 5 hours later we were back where we started and that was the end of another adventurous day on the hills. We definitely took the high road on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond that day! Another memory created and another Munro bagged…great start to 2017…let’s see how many are under the belt by next New Year eh! ­čÖé 

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Munro challenge No.3. – Ben Chonzie┬á

Videolog
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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New Heights

My first Munro Bagging experience…Glas Maol & Creag Leacach 18/12/2016

Videolog

An early start and two cars convoy drive to the start point for 5 of us. This my very first Munro challenge, an opportunity offered by some other lovely enthusiastic walkers I’d met who encouraged me to come along and most thankfully supplied the transport to take me. 
As we drove into the mountains towering around us I felt the enormity of the task I’d set myself up for! Feeling part anticipation, maybe a little nervous excitement and just totally awestruck at the amazing feeling of being in the middle of this beautiful remote destination, one I had never experienced before.
Gaiters on, bag & bits all sorted and we were off…making our way along the initial section beside the stream was a little challenging but I managed to scramble along the dodgy footholds and got more confident as I went. This type of walking was new to me, so just took my time as the last thing I wanted to do was fall, get injured or end up soaked this early in the climb! 
After that section I felt much happier, just steady climbing after that, quite steep in places but that I could handle with the help of my poles for extra leverage and balance.
The cars parked at the start point began to grow smaller and smaller as we ascended up and up, the views of the mountains more and more expansive and breathtaking, small amounts of snow dusting the landscape in places or unmelted piles still dotted about. 
Nearing the higher grounds approaching Creag Leacach was much more bouldersome and rocky, another type of surface to navigate and get used to walking on. Much colder now as we reached this level into the sky, cloud inversions below us in the valleys creating a landscape so beautiful all around us, what a feeling, quite magical really. 
And so there it was, the Craig of rocks that was to be my first Munro summit! The whiskey dram was shared in swigs by us all as we toasted our conquered journey to the top.
A hop over the rocky ridge away out of the wind provided a warmer spot for us to stop for some food and refuel, I’d never eaten lunch above the clouds before, what a view! 
All packed back up again after that short breather we then continued on along the ridge down and up again to the next summit of Glas Maol, and that was Munro no.2. bagged! That was it, I was already hooked! 
The journey then continued on along the ridge and we began our winding descent. This part was where I was slower than the others, the climbing I found okay, but the way down just a bit more challenging, more nervous of a fall, slipping and the knees being punished in a way they hadn’t before, so just took it a bit easier until we got to a last section where we came to a track that wound down to the left swinging us back towards the cars that we could now see getting closer again.
One of our crew decided to jog a little and I joined in, partly just in triumph that I could now put one foot firmly in front of the other confidently and jumping for joy at the elation of the achievement I’d just made. 
The rest of the journey down was relatively straight forwards, rambling through the grassy mounds cutting across towards the start point. Then it was boots change, clean socks and into the cosy vehicles for the drive back and a stop off for a nice cup of warm tea/coffee. 
An experience I will always treasure, thankful to the souls I met that day for creating the memory and sparking a new passion in me to keep climbing. The start of new goals and aspirations, I was now a officially a Munro Bagger and there were another 280 still to go…this journey will most definitely continue… 

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