Thursday, 1 March 2012
Winter Lost, Revisiting Glen Feshie
Eight days after my wintry camping trip to Glen Feshie and Mullach Clach a'Bhlair I returned to the area again with a companion up from the south who wanted to camp wild and climb a new Munro. As he'd already climbed Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui and we only had around 24 hours Mullach Clach a'Bhlair seemed a good choice. This time, due to a latish start, we walked up the glen and camped and then climbed the hill, which ensured we weren't making camp in the dark. The forecast was for mild, cloudy and windy weather. The thaw that had begun the morning of my previous trip had continued all week but I was still surprised at just how much snow had gone. Down in the glen there was none, on the hills just tiny patches. Compare the picture above and the top picture on my blog post of February 21 to see the difference.
Camp made we climbed the Druim nam Bo ridge to Mullach Clach a'Bhlair. Lochan nam Bo, which had been frozen solid the week before, was open water with just one collapsing snow bank above one corner. Higher up there was no snow, just thick damp mist and soft, sodden ground. The summit cairn was sitting in a pool of water. One week of mild south westerly winds and all was changed.
Having tested an unfamiliar tent on the first trip and had a disturbed night due to the wind shaking it I resisted the temptation to take an old trusted tent this time, instead trying a Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar, lent to me by Tony Hobbs. The Trailstar has received praise from many experienced backpackers, including Colin Ibbotson, whose knowledge of shelters and how they perform in Scottish conditions is great (he has designed his own tarps that outperform many tents - see my blog post for July 14, 2009). The Trailstar is a five-sided tarp available in silnylon or Cuben Fibre. Tony's is made from the latter material. Initially I pitched the Trailstar with a high central pole and door for maximum headroom and ease of entry and exit. There was a gusty wind but it wasn't affecting the shelter enough to be of concern. A few hours after I fell asleep the wind strengthened though and woke me as it swept under the edge of the shelter and rattled the fabric above the entrance. This time I could do something about it however. I lowered the central pole and adjusted the pegging round the perimeter so it was at ground level and then lowered the entrance pole. The shelter became quiet and only the odd stray breeze drifted inside. I slept well. Quite impressive.