I’ve had a couple of winters off from winter mountaineering so I chose an easy munro as my first day in Glencoe – I headed up Buachaille Etive Beag as its close to the road, has an easy to navigate path even in the snow and is jokingly referred to as ‘The People’s Munro’ as its so easy to bag. Frankly on Valentine’s Day in school half term it was bound to be crawling with either couple keen to do something adventurous, or school teachers desperate to get away from it all.
I heard someone say that school teachers constituted 90% of a mountain rescue calls this time last year. Is it because they’re so desperate to get away from a classroom of kids that they forget to pay attention, or just so many of them are flocking to the hills for that reason that the odds were never going to be in their favour?
I don’t know the answer but I met 5 teachers today, so the chances were looking good that it wasn’t going to be me sliding down the windslab.
I can joke, but I’ve made all the mistakes before and suffered the war wounds – twisted knee from not axe arresting when I slipped on concrete hard ice in the Cairngorms 5 years ago. That’s a war wound that makes an appearance every so often, usually when I’m belting it along the fell tops, or worse happily bouncing my way down the windslab in deep snow. But today it’s been fine.
Which was good, as today was a great first day back in Scottish winter.
The walk up Buachaille Etive Beag isn’t hard, just a slog. Even in the snow it’s not too challenging. Though as you reach the main summit of Stob Dubh there’s a narrow bit in the ridge where the wind whips over the top and as it dumps the snow it does so in a graceful curl, which from a distance looks beautiful. From the centre of it, it feels like I’m having my cheeks sandblasted with the blown icy snow, and my buff fills with snot and wet breath as I pull it as far up my face as I can without my glasses fogging up.
But I can’t complain, views from a Scottish hilltop in winter. I’m not sure I’ve had clear skies much even in summer.