Crisp white snow, blue skies, rainbows, sleet, hail, rain, more sun, more rain, driving winds, horizontal rain and then sun again – remind you of anywhere? You guessed it – Scotland where three seasons in a day is one season short of the standard. I’m getting excited about a few trips coming up including one to Scotland at New Year. I had an amazing time when I went a couple of years ago and had possibly my best mountain day ever climbing my first ever Munro and my first ever mountain in Winter.
I thought on this grey November day I’d have a little look back at that trip to get me in the mood (well to be honest I’m always in the mood) for some mountain time.
An ascent of Schiehallion is a great first Munro, it’s not too long a walk in, the views are spectacular and you are pretty unlikely to fall off it summer or winter! In fact I was pretty blown away by the whole area, it was my first visit north of Edinburgh and to be honest was probably where my hill walking kicked itself up a gear. Being out in winter gave the hills a whole new life, a little bit of edge and a tiny bit of danger which I like in a day out! They are also blissfully quiet and the smiles and greetings you get from other walkers are priceless – it’s like being part of a sneaky club that has realised that mountain days don’t stop once the snow arrives, if anything they get even better!
Subsequent to going on my first winter trip to the mountains I went on a winter skills course, I probably should have done this the other way round and I can’t recommend one enough, the mountains in winter do need you to be a little more skilled; both in navigation and how and when to use winter kit like crampons and ice axes.
This year we’re heading a little further north to the Cairngorms national park. I’ve already bought the maps and scoured walkhighlands for route suggestions. I know there will be a mountain for whatever the weather throws at us, I also know that there will be some good solid winter skills behind my decision making – a change for the better! I can’t wait.
What would make your perfect winter day? I’ll be blown away if I get another like the pictures above.