Wild moment: Karen Maitland

Published: 16th February 2016

"...my first foray into the snow this winter, which always holds its own special joy."

Finally, a good weather window – it’d been dreadful since I returned from a trip to the US earlier in the week, and apparently, I’d even missed the worst of it!

We approached the hill from the south, near Inverlochlarig farm. It wasn’t yet completely light as we set off, but we could see enough to tell where we were going. Up. And up. And up some more.

It was the first time in weeks that I’d been out, and the first time this winter carrying the extra weight of the crampons and ice axe. I was feeling the effects of both of these factors, and my progress was slow. From this direction, Stob Binnein has several false summits, which was a bit disheartening, as we’d reach one, and see another, as well as the actual summit, still some way in the distance.

Karen Maitland Lochs with inversions

The morning was somewhat dull and overcast, but we had good visibility down over the farm, and lochs Voil and Doine, which lay under wee cloud inversions.  We celebrated at the summit with a quick hit of hot chocolate, but didn’t stick around, as it was bitterly cold. The first few metres of descent was fairly treacherous under snow and ice – not prolonged or steep enough to require the crampons, but I did resort to my “as many points of direct contact with the hill as possible” safe mode (yes, that means on my backside).  

Karen Maitland Hoarfrost on rocks snow bowl below

As we descended, the sun was beginning to hit the hills to the north, and the views just kept getting better and better, and brighter and brighter. The snow-covered hills – in all directions – were magnificent. We descended off the final top too early, but that small navigational error offered another of the day's highlights: the season’s first bum slide! Below the snowline, the slippin’ and slidin’ continued; at this level, into water and mud rather than snow. We returned to the car park, tired-wet-filthy, but deliriously happy and silly.

Karen Maitland I love winter

This was my first foray into the snow this winter, which always holds its own special joy. It was a terrific day that offered a bit of everything for which you take to the outdoors—dry conditions (from above, anyway), sunshine, a nice hill, no wind, ploughing through snowdrifts, and fabulous views in every direction. 

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