Sunday, February 01, 2015

15 Mountains in 2015 - #1: Ben Chonzie

My new year's resolution for 2015 is simple to express, possibly harder to achieve. The aim is to climb 15 mountains this year. Which is way more than I've ever climbed in a year before. But you may as well set your sights high, I guess. The mountains don't need to be Munros (although I hope a fair few are) and it doesn't matter if I've done them before. 

So here is #1 on the list. 

Sunday 1st Feb 2015. Ben Chonzie, near Comrie.

This is the first mountain I've climbed in proper snow, so I thought I'd better not go for anything too ambitious. Instead I opted for the mountain considered by some to be the most "boring" Munro of the lot, Ben Chonzie. I'd heard that there's basically a well marked path most of the way, then you follow the fence posts to the top. Sounds easy enough. And so it was, despite the snow.

But what a glorious day! For the most part there was little in the way of wind and not too much in the way of cloud. The conditions at the top were a bit different, but we'll get there in a bit. For now, here is a pic of me, just setting out at Glen Lednock:

And here, a few minutes further up the path is my walking companion and brother-in-law, Ewan:

In warmer weather, this 'path' is really a ford and you have to cross at the dam if you don't want wet feet. Not the case on this occasion:

The icicles on the fence beside the dam were perhaps the best icicles I've ever seen:

Looking South-South-West from Invergeldie dam:

From here, the path got a bit steeper and more snow covered, but there were occasional patches of bare ground for a spot of sunbathing:

Or to stop and check the map:

About 3/4 of the way up we left the path and branched out across a pathless snowfield, aiming for the ridge above:

Once on the ridge, the wind picked up and the temperature noticeably dropped, but it was a fairly easy climb to the top. So here's me at the top of Ben Chonzie, my 16th Munro, and the first of my 15 mountains in 2015:

Couldn't keep my gloves off for long! After about 30s I was losing sensation in my hands! We didn't stay too long at the top, but returned hastily along the ridge, looking for a sheltered spot for lunch. Along the way, we saw some amazing patterns in the snow, formed around the footprints of a walker on a previous day:

Here's a cairn and the view to the West (or North West) from the ridge:

In the end, the storm shelter proved a good place for a lunch break. Its been up several mountains with me before, but never actually used for its intended purpose before now:

The walk down was fairly easy, but we wished we'd thought to bring sledges. Or skis, like these people:

(There are three skiers in there if you look carefully.) Odd thing is, we saw about 5 or 6 skiers coming down the mountain, but not a single person carrying skis up the mountain...?

All in all, a great day for my first snow covered mountain. Must do one again. Here's the map of our route, showing red most of the way up, then blue. 7.7 miles in total, according to my phone, with a 2,681 foot elevation gain.

Details of the next of my 15 mountains coming soon...

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