Last weekend I was up in Rothiemurchus in a failed attempt to get some snowshoeing in. Unfortunately, there was less snow than I’d anticipated in the forest. The summits were off limits, at least for someone with my testicular fortitude. The fatal avalanche in Glencoe on the Saturday had ensured that the non-fatal avalanche in Coire an Lochain was less widely reported than it may otherwise have been. My decision to stay low despite the meagre snow was a sensible one. The peace and stillness of the forest was delightful, few folk were out and the conditions were lovely. Cold, calm with only with white noise of a distant wind scouring the summits hinting that higher up, conditions were less idyllic.
For whatever reason, I seemed not to be fully ‘into’ it. Over familiarity with my surroundings maybe? I’ve treated Rothiemurchus as a bit of a default choice when staying low in recent years. Maybe it’s time to broaden my horizons a bit. Anyway, I decided not to camp, as seems to be my way in winter recently. Maybe I’m coming to the realisation that my 3 season bag is at it’s limit at this time of year. I sleep poorly when cold, maybe time for a rethink regarding my sleeping arrangements in winter.
The other thing which became apparent over that past few seasons is that snowshoeing weather in Scotland is marginal. Skis would have been a better bet and I think I will invest in some. It’s been a long time since I skied and then only with a fixed heel. So now I wonder, invest in some relatively cheap skinny XC skis, or spend more for something more versatile? Maybe I need to look for some used kit, or wait for the sales and prepare for next season. [I said this last year and the year before!]
Today, determined to make the most of a dump of fresh snow and blue skies, I did my usual ascent of Innerdownie in the Ochils on snowshoes. It was pretty hard going, there was no crust until near the summit, and progress was slow. I was pretty pooped by the summit, had lunch with some friendly skiers, quizzing them on the differences between their skis, whilst fending off their springer spaniel who was taking too much interest in my snacks.
I’d spent some time on the climb with a guy on a splitboard, before he took off as I slowed my pace to sweat less. He’d pressed on beyond the summit, over the plateau and into the cloud, I don’t know how far he was intending to go, but I knew I’d gone far enough. As the other skiers clipped in, and strapped my snowshoes back on and headed down. I was somewhat surprised that I managed to keep pace with them, their telemark turns were a little rusty and they were struggling a bit with the conditions. It wasn’t until much further down that they caught me back up and shot past on the forest track.
Back at the car, I noticed two rivets on each snowshoe had popped out of the rubber strapping across the forefoot section. It doesn’t appear to affect the performance, but they have only been used a handful of times since they were bought. The rubber appears to have perished around the rivet, and I’m a bit concerned about how long they will last. It looks to be a design flaw with this Redfeather Hike model, so if you own a pair, I’d suggest checking them and maybe treating the rubber components to some silicon lube or something for a bit of additional protection.