It was always going to be about compromise. I slept late, having watched some Carl Sagan’s Cosmos late last night. It was just after noon by the time I parked at the Visitor Centre car park, so I’d only have a few hours to play in the snow. I’d walked Lawers and Beinn Ghlas in the summer, so knew what to expect. I just wanted to strap the crampons on and make the most of what time I had.

Meall nan Tarmachan from Beinn Ghlas

The good thing about Lawers is you start off halfway up the hill, so I hit the snow line quite quickly. I was sliding about a bit, but was still on a relatively shallow gradient, so stuck with walking poles. Once I’d exited the nature enclosure the angle steepened, so swapped the poles for the axe and put the crampons on. Grivel G10s and Scarpa Mantas make for a lot of weight, I’m not sure how lighter footwear and Kahtoolas would had coped with the line of ascent I chose. The good thing about snow is the path is covered, so you’re more inclined to pick a line and go for it. I stopped regularly, kidding myself I was taking in the scenery, but really I was just catching my breath, I must get fitter. Meall nan Tarmachan is a fine looking mountain though, moreso in winter. My gammy knee was fine all day, up and down. I can feel it a bit now though, so I’ll need to do my stretches before bed.

I’m not one for touching summit cairns and don’t care if I make to the top, I’m happy with a decent view and some fresh air. In fact, given my late start and the fact that it was my first time out alone in winter since my Winter Skills course last January, I was playing it safe. It’s all about building experience at this point. The summit of Beinn Ghlas was cloud covered, so I didn’t feel the need to continue beyond the 950m mark, the weather was closing in somewhat, so I had my lunch and watched some folk on a winter skills course practising self arrest below.

Given I run hot I’d only had a base layer, microfleece and wind shirt on. I put on my Rab Generator jacket once I’d stopped moving, it’s great bit of kit and drew a few envious comments on my skills course last year, nobody else had an insulating layer for wearing during periods of inactivity, but I wouldn’t be without one now. Perfect for cool camps year round too. Highly recommended. I had my Rab Vapour Rise Trews on, kept me dry and warm, so no complaints there, except they just have a popper on the waistband, rather than a button, fine if you have a flat stomach, but I need to wear a belt with them to stop the popper coming undone when I sit/crouch. Fat git. The principles are sound though, I could see myself getting the VR top for winter at some point.

As I wasn’t going any higher, it was back to the car. So just a short day, but enough to inspire me to get out as much as possible this winter. I haven’t joined a club yet, I did go to a meet at the pub with Cioch in Dunfermline, but I’m not sure it’s for me. I think I’ll just need to sign up for one of their weekends and see how it goes.

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