The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 16 February 2009

Neither Slipping nor Sliding

With mildly aching limbs, another day started, albeit with a bit less rush than the day before.

At 9am we were promptly onto a minibus and doing battle with the forty thousand people intent on spending the day at the ski centre.

After checking the avalanche and weather reports and a discussion on both, off we set up the hill and gradually away from most of the skiing activity.

Huffing and puffing I was, as we proceeded upwards at some considerable speed until finally time for a break and a snackette was called. We then proceeded at something of a more leisurely and sensible pace until, just below a ridge and being hit by the full force of the wind, we stopped to don crampons and helmets and to liberate our ice axes.

A bit more instruction as to technique was had as we zig-zagged our way up the ridge and before we knew it the summit of Cairn Gorm was just 100m above us. Having gone so far it would have been rude not to have popped up to the summit, so that's exactly what we did.

Eeeh, it was a bit nippy with that buffetting wind up the top, and we tarried quite a while whilst people took photos and we decided what we were going to do next.

What we did next was to make our way through the throngs on the slopes to contend with fresh deep snow.

Part way down a snow shelter was built. Out came seven shovels; all of our rucksacks were thrown into a pile, and we proceeded to cover them with a huge pile of snow. Then came the fun part, as we tunnelled in to retrieve the packs and start hollowing out the rest of the snow. Forty minutes later we had a shelter big enough for two, and being shivering cold by that point we quickly abandonned it to continue back down to the car park.

The final descent was 'interesting'. The thaw meant that there was by this point no hard layer in the snow to stop us sinking in. Regularly a leg was lost to the hip and with an 'oooh' a person launched headfirst into the snow. At one particular point it got so difficult to maintain my feet that I decided that the easiest way down was via sledgeless sledging.

We were soon back at Glenmore Lodge, drinking tea and eating cake before we made a run for it and joined the forty thousand people driving away from the ski centre, for our six hour journey back to Halifax.

It was a fantastic weekend and we were incredibly lucky with the conditions, with plenty of snow lying, but with dry, clear days.

(oh, and those mildly aching limbs of yesterday morning - they really ache now!)

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