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Glen Feshie Munros

16 January 2016
Mid January and snow all around ! We were back in the Cairngorms for a bit of winter Munros bagging, this time the eastern pair of Sgor Gaoith and Mullach Clach a'Bhlair

Winter Skills 9 Jan 2015 - 1 Emma and I were leading the group today, most of which knew each other through working for Edrington. We met at the large car-park near Auchlean down the eastern side of the River Feshie and got our kit together. Much debate and a few boot-changes later (and after 3 folk arrived a bit late - you know who you are, I won't tell!) we began our hike along the road aiming south. Everyone was having a good natter, so much so, we almost missed the turning off for the Moine Mor path. Up the path, through some forestry, we were then beginning to hike through snow. It was a cracking day and we could see folk ahead and more behind.

Winter Skills 9 Jan 2015 - 2 As we progressed upwards, it was becoming clear that some folk just wanted to enjoy a winter walk, whereas others wanted to push onwards to bag both Munros. As the group had two guides, we had the luxury of splitting the group, Emma took those that wanted Sgor Gaoith at a relaxed pace and I took the others at a quicker pace.

Of we headed up the snow following steps. Instead of heading directly up to Carn Ban Mor, we skirted the summit, making a beeline for Sogr Gaoith. The cornices hanging over the eastern sides of this mountain were impressive today, particularly when humans stood nearby to give perspective. We hiked through the snow and reached the summit, not going too close to the edge ! The views were amazing ! We had a lunch stop, and prepared for the snowy hike to Mullach Clach a'Bhlair.

Winter Skills 9 Jan 2015 - 1 We retraced our steps towards Carn Ban Mor, meeting several folk on the way, including folk on snow-shoes and skis. We also met up with the rest of the group briefly. It was a long hike and one of our group found it harder than expected - rubbing of boots didn't help either. Reaching the highest point of track that crosses the Moine Mor (which was well hidden in parts under the snow), the bothy-bag came out and two folk huddled in. Myself and two others (Nick and Carles) sprinted (if only) to the summit, which lurked in mist and required careful navigation to find. About turning, we retraced our steps to out companions.

Winter Skills 9 Jan 2015 - 2 It was now after 4pm and light was failing. We all knew we had to get off the plateau as quickly as possible. Down the track, a decision was made not to take a direct route over Meall nan Sleac, but instead opt for the safer but longer route sticking to the track (and out of the wind which had now picked up). The snow underfoot got more sparse as we dropped height, making for easier going. Down at the Feshie, headtorches on, we checked out the sad remains of the bridge. Good news tho - there was lots of cut wood waiting to be assembled into a new bridge. We followed the track, then paths northwards - the recent floods had wrecked a fair bit of havock, some sections of new path were washed away and in places the course of the river had permanetly moved. Back to the cars, we all decided this was one epic day out. I'm hoping everyone enjoyed it !

Winter Skills 9 Jan 2015 - 1 Emma took the remainder of the group up Sgor Gaoith, here's her tale of the rest of the day....

After we had split into 2 groups the Sgor Gaoith (only!) party happily enjoyed a breather and some photos just before the summit of Carn Ban Mor with superb views to many of the Cairngorm peaks and beyond. It was a long, hard trudge through the snow to Sgor Gaoith, which was like a mini 'Everest' for some of our group and there was a sense of great satisfaction when we reached the corniced summit, and of awe as we gazed down to Loch Einich and across to the vast slopes of Braeriach. We were lucky to have the summit all to ourselves for a time whilst we enjoyed a well earned rest with lunch a top priority.

Winter Skills 9 Jan 2015 - 2 The options for a return route were discussed and it was an unanimous decision that everyone chose the straight down route, though this proved to be somewhat more challenging than anticipated! 2 of the younger members of the group decided to attempt part of the descent on survival bags and this resulted in the youngest member of our party practising her butterfly stroke whilst trying to propel herself (very slowly) down the side of the mountain. We had the opportunity for some ice axe coaching on the steeper sections of the descent and then proceeded to wallow in the ever deepening snow that became thigh deep as we headed towards the glen. Even the mountain hares were struggling in the conditions with one appearing from its shelter and freezing in position, ready to run if we posed a threat, but waiting motionless until we had passed.

We reached the road just as darkness was falling and ended the day with a moonlit walk back to the car park. A very memorable winter Munro outing.

More photos are on our Flickr page

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