A Grand Day Out 5: Playing In The Snow

For Godfrey Jackson.
© Ryan Atkinson

If a picture can speak a thousand words, then surely a thousand words should be able to describe a picture to some elementary degree of accuracy and imagination. From this, one can thus deduce that 500 words should also be able to do a relatively good job of it. Yet, even putting both a picture and 500 words together in this article, it seems nothing can do justice to an exceptionally awesome day in Scotland: Awesome in the truest sense of the word.

The Am Bodach horseshoe - or at least part of it - was our destination of choice. There's something about sitting in a warm hotel, on a comfy sofa, facing two seasoned mountain guides that instils a certain level of confidence in ones abilities. The elusive sunshine of Scottish Winter; and as such it came as no real surprise to us when come 9am, we were trail bashing our way up from the Mamore Lodge towards the coire in glorious weather and with the promising sight of a few deer buried in a heap of snow on the ridgeline above, bathed in the morning sunshine. It seems my optimism in packing my sunglasses that morning was thus far being rewarded.

A brief pause for lunch in the coire; now it's my turn snow plodding up to the ridge. I bend over to tighten a gaiter strap and am nearly knocked down into the coire proper as Kack goes shooting past like one of Jeremy Clarkson's exuberant metaphors. It would seem he's not content with falling into line behind my 'gradual progress' as I like to think of it.

One more quick stop to enlist the help of some friendly crampons to aid our progress along the scoured ridgeline and the modest yet wintery summit was ours, in perfect sunshine, alpine-esque cornices and narrow snowy ridges included at no extra price.

It's a funny thing, a week long winter skills course. I went with the expectation of learning a bit, getting in a few mountain journeys, figuring how to pronounce some of the words on my map, and meeting some potential Scotland partners. Yet in one week with Rob Spencer, we seem to have learnt more useful and important info than the entirety of my A-Level experience. We experienced just about every weather condition also, thus it was no real surprise to us that 10 minutes into our descent from a blinding summit, we were engulfed by somewhat of a white out. Silent and still, but deceptively hiding those dangerously corniced edges we had become all too familiar with whilst gazing up on our walk in. Suddenly the importance of this training became very real. Yet, coming to the end of our week with Plas y Brenin, they had trained us well and we managed to descend along the ridge line and skirt back round towards the descent path. The closest we came to any cornice danger was when Rob led us towards the edge of one to have a look, claiming that the alternative route 'was at least 2 metres wide, and thus way too safe.'

The hardest bit was the ride back in the minibus after falling in a stream covered by some tenacious looking heather, yet I wouldn't trade the entire fantastic experience for anything. Aside from maybe the hot tub waiting for us back at the hotel... Scotland in style, and whoever knocked a snow plod?!

The list of entries so far is below (closing date for entries is Midnight on Monday 9th March):

Click to read individual articles in this series:


A Grand Day Out is another creative competition and a chance to express yourself and share your adventures.


A Grand Day Out, 154 kb
image © Mick Ryan

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