Morrone: Blustery breeze and drifting snow

Having so much enjoyed being out on Hogmanay we decided to have another bash today, initially thinking Balmoral Cairns. Alarm’s set, we got up and out at a reasonable time and contemplated our destination as we drove out the road. Par for the course, I was just happy to be out and not too bothered where we ended up, although the suggestion of Morrone did appeal. The main issue was whether Bruce’s hips (both old / bad and new) could survive such an outing. We decided to take our chances given the glorious weather window we’d been afforded.

First stop, Braemar

Parking up, we had our usual faff to start off! This currently involves me putting on both pairs of boots as it’s just easier; today there were also gaiters and waterproof trousers to prolong things. I opted for my new Montane Prism gloves (thanks Santa) and these were the business! As someone who suffers from Raynaud’s, I do struggle with keeping my hands warm and have been known to have 3 pairs of gloves on while out on the hills. Today we left the car at -2C, hit a blustery snowdrift on the way up and still these gloves kept me cosy throughout! #winning

Up to the Pond

Leaving the centre of Braemar, we walked up the hill towards the duck pond. Here we stopped to don our Kahtoola microspikes once again. We’d left the crampons in the car but took the ice axes just in case, not wanting to be the person that needed it but left it in the boot!

On to the Cairns

The path is easy to follow up to the cairns and here there are spectacular views of nearby mountains. These were stunning today with a good coat of snow, the last few days having been generous in this regard.

The wind picked up here and the snow began drifting across the open hillside.

Another walker we’d met on his descent had advised of the wind and the fact that footprints were filling up quickly, however there were others not too far ahead so he reckoned we’d not need to break trail again.

In the event, I did break trail as any sign of footprints had gone. With my exceptional sense of direction this led to me zig zagging up the hill. In my defence, this was to try to avoid the deeper drifts, however these efforts were not appreciated by those behind me who said I’d added significant time to the journey and suggested we just head straight for the masts instead, then pointing out where I should have gone as we approached the top, much to my delight.

In the interest of fairness, he’d tried to communicate some of this information at an earlier point but due to the wind, my hood being up and my sunglasses on (the latter undoubtedly impacting on hearing) I was unable to hear him at all!

A little tiff aside, we successfully reached the summit and were happy to gain a little shelter to enjoy a light lunch and resume pleasantries.

An Easy Return

The descent was easier, not least as Bruce took the lead again. There was a vague notion of a path along the plateau and we knew where we were headed. As we progressed, the impression of footprints disappeared, filled by the drifting snow. Heading down towards the cairns there was an occasional raised footprint impressed on the snow; very odd that these remained while other evidence of human traffic had been erased.

Finding the Cairns

It was a relief to see the cairns again as below these the wind would hopefully drop off, along with the drifting snow. I was still remarkably warm; my thumbs had become slightly chilled following a period without gloves to eat lunch, but they had definitely done their business! So much so that I’m currently contemplating how to fasten them to a string or suchlike to ensure they never get lost or blow away on the hill! Mum … help!

The descent was quick and relatively easy. We made good progress, smelling the coffee and tasting the cake that awaited at the Braemar Bothy. We opted to head in the direction of the golf course taking a different (quicker?) route back.

Once back on the road the spikes came off and we yomped back along. Boots, gaiters, waterproofs dropped off at the car, we refuelled with coffee and cake which was worth the wait.

Happy New Year

If you’ve made it this far, a Happy New Year to you! Here’s to health, happiness and lots of adventures. Oh, and all being well the return of the bionic man!

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