This winter has been mission learn-to-ski for me and it has been a slow (very slow) and often painful journey. This weekend marked a watershed because, under the gentle guidance of experienced friends Dave and Pauline (plus Wally), I was coached and nurtured up a hill, off piste, with skins on. Not only that, but I skied (some) of the way back down. The received wisdom is that you really need to be a proficient piste skier to ski tour in Scotland, and as I'm still limping down green runs, this is far from a description of me. My survival on Saturday is entirely due to excellent route choice by my friends, good instruction, and benign conditions. I admit I was terrified some of the time. The rest of the time it was brilliant glorious fun.
|Skinning up on to the plateau of A Bhuidhenach Bheag.|
We set off from Dalnaspidal in the Drumochter pass in the direction of A' Bhuidhenach Bheag, a rounded munro on the east side of the A9. Skinning up hill on my new touring skis was a revelation. I'm happy to report that this aspect of ski touring was way easier than expected, and much easier than walking up hill. Eureka! I'm a convert.
|Fabulous views of Glen Garry|
And the descent? Well, the initial slopes were wind scoured icy snow and I panicked. Having never skied anything so steep or technical, the skis came off and I stomped down the hill. I'd packed the crampons for this eventuality, but my second hand ski touring boots were fine on the crusty ice so I was soon able to catch up with the others at the point where the snow softened and the gradient eased. On the easier ground, I settled in to my tentative snowplough turns feeling right at home on the gentle slopes. Lots to learn- but I'm very keen, and happy to mark the milestone of my first munro by ski.
|Cruising very very gently down the hill!|