The six Corbetteers – three members and three prospective members – started up Glencalvie from the end of the public road near Glen Calvie Lodge. One hundred and seventy five years earlier, Glencalvie had been the site of one of the most poignant episodes in the clearances when eighteen families from the glen were evicted and sought refuge in the nearby Croick Churchyard. Some of their names and messages can still be seen scratched on the church windows.
The track up Glencalvie made for fast walking and we were soon at the start of the fine stalkers path which ascends the north spur of Carn Chuinneag’s west top which surprisingly, does not seem to have a separate name. We had hoped that the spur would provide shelter from the strong south westerly squalls of sleet and snow. We were to be disappointed. However, from the west top we had the wind at our back as we headed to the summit in cloud and driving snow. No-one in the party took any photographs whatsoever and we quickly set off down the lee side of the north ridge, trying to glean whatever shelter we could. Soon we were out of the cloud and heading down to Glencalvie again. Passing Diebidale Lodge we idly speculated about it being a fine location for a club outing. But at £3000 per week, we quickly put that out of our minds.
The navigators had equally poor weather and combined some desktop work on avalanche awareness and winter route planning with navigation practice in the forest around Glenmore Lodge.
Some of the take-aways which the team shared are the need for winter route planning that takes account of weather patterns, recent wind directions, slope aspect and slope angles in assessing avalanche risk. The SAIS avalanche reports have now started for this winter, and their “Be Avalanche Aware” app and website provides really good advice on planning winter trips and the things to be aware of throughout the day. The team were also introduced to an excellent app called “Fatmap” which provides 3D satellite images of terrain, which can be overlaid by filters like slope aspect or slope angle.
The value of bothy bags providing group shelter was reinforced, and the need to vary pacing counts to take account of darkness, ground conditions, snow cover and slope were all brought firmly home – in the dark, in the forest! Thanks to Dougie and Irene for these take-aways.
Carn Chuinneag group: Ewen, Robin, Arthur, and prospective members Charlotte, Maria and Brian.
Navigators: Dougie, Dan, Kirsty R., Irene and George.