A weekend of no commitments had me floundering for a plan !
The guys from the Meet way back were planning on heading out west and that was an option,Fri night and people were cancelling left right and centre so I had a look at MWIS and made a decision based on what was looking best weather wise.
Everywhere was looking crap in the morning but Southern Cairngorms was looking better in the afternoon and Sunday was looking good.
I packed my stuff, it seemed harder than normal as if out of practice.
My alarm went off at 7:30 am, I turned it off quickly and went back to sleep as I could hear the rain hitting the window.
Finally I got up and loaded the car and headed for Pitlochry, stopping in to Escape Route for a coffee and some bits and bobs.
I had to pick a book up from Glacier Books, great folk with an amazing amount of cool books.
So in PTC’s words “it was late when I started”
But hey the sun was out for a change.
As I walked up the track from Loch Moraig I was surprised how little snow there was, especially after all the snow that fell on the A9 the night before.
I could see Ski marks on the patches of snow and contemplated if I would be faster on Ski than foot, I decided on foot would make more sense for the moment.
Carn Liath was not quite clear as is the norm for the Rocky Grey Hill, as I got near the junction to head up I could see people skiing and boarding down the slope.
As I got further on I stopped to speak to some guys who had just came down, they said it was baltic and they had headed down from about half way up.
I plodded on up the main track skirting Carn Liath until i got to the junction.
There is a faint track in the heather from here heading North East, this turned out to be full of snow so I stuck the skins on and started to ski the next few K’s.
I traversed round the hill, the snow was a bit better at the 500m mark but the wind was still strong.
I started looking for a campsite, aware that the light was starting to fade and to go any higher up or round the hill would put me in the firing line of the heavy gusts.
I found a spot and dug in to protect the tent from the wind and to give me a more level surface to sleep on.
I used my skis and ice axe for anchors on the guy lines as there was no way the pegs would hold.
As I had a brew the tent got battered from gusts from all directions, I think it snowed to or the wind was just moving existing stuff around with force, A few times I had to hold the tent pole up.
I regretted my tent choice thinking I should of opted for the heavier Haglofs Genius rather than the Hellsport .
I have used this tent a few times and have had not much success with it !
The zip on the door doesn’t stay down so all the way through the night I had to keep pulling it back into place.
In one of the rare gaps between gusts a noticed it was light outside, the moon was pretty full as the clouds zipped past it.
I drifted in and out of sleep between the gusts and then woke up at about 7am, I packed my kit and had a brew as the sun broke the ridge line to the east.
It looked like it had indeed snowed a bit as there was not many heather tops sticking out the snow
The sun was right up and the wind had died a bit, it was still gloves weather as the temp was not much above 0.
The snow was hard an icy which was good in that there was no sinkage into the heather but bad that you really had to make sure that the ski was flat so the skin could grip.
I contoured round as far as I could till the slope just got too steep so I shouldered my skis and started kicking steps up the hill.
It was further than I thought and it was getting steeper so I stopped and strapped the skis to the side of my rucksack.
I continued up breathing hard and finally popping out of the top just near to the summit of Carn Liath.
I spotted the cloud coming in from the Cairngorms and as I sat down at the summit to drink my coffee the weather changed.
The wind was strong and the cold was biting as I set of Northwards along the ridge, I could make out the cornice line on my right as I slid along with my skins still on.
My thumb on my right hand was getting cold as I only had light gloves on, I pushed on till it got steeper and then took my skins off, my thumb was agony as I put my heavier gloves on.
The first few turns were nervous ones, it had been ages since I had skied with a pack on !
I linked a couple of turns concentrating on being forward on my boot, each turn my grin got bigger .
I got to the saddle at Braigh Coire Chruinn bhalgain in no time and then contemplated my next move.
The sun was out as I contoured East slightly down hill till I hit the shoulder and then I went down the shoulder on a mix of ice and squeaky snow.
From there I crossed the river and a short walk later I found myself at the top of Beinn Bheag.
I had a bit of lunch and the headed down the SW face of the hill, dodging patches of heather closer to the bottom.
Skins back on and I crossed the burn staying high to try in stay in the snow line as much as I could before joining the track and humphing everything out on foot for the last 5km’s
That will be my first Munro then !