Rover Scouts in the Snowy Cairngorms
Having never laid a hand on crampons before, the idea of sliding down a snowy slope in January whilst practicing how to use an ice axe would have been somewhat daunting - if Ninette and Clive had told me the fine details.
A simple email was sent round which invited anyone and everyone out for a bit of winter walking in the lovely Cairngorms shortly after Christmas. Having met Ninette and Clive before I really should have read between the lines a bit more and guessed that this wouldn't be a simple stroll in the park. Five of us travelled up from the Manchester area - Sheena, Martyn, Tim, Zoe and myself - the seven hour car drive flew past; but only because I snored my way though most of it. Thanks again for driving Martyn! By the time we arrived, the other 11 of our adventure-seekers had headed to bed.
Not being entirely nuts, Ninette had booked the lot of us into a fantastic hotel on Loch Insch - I've never had an "all you can eat" haggis breakfast before, but I'd certainly go back for more. After issuing crampons, ice axes and helmets; we pilled into cars and headed out into the hills.
There was a little more snow than expected - so much that we were unable to get to the ski slopes where we intended to start from. As it turned out the snow ploughs were working hard, but going slow. After watching a number of snowboarders turn round looking for alternaive slopes, we too chose "Plan C" - as Clive put it.
I remember doing an eight mile hike when I was new to Scouts, but covering only six kilometers in a day was a bit of a shock. Suffice to say the waist deep snow proved difficult to move though - although I took the easy option and stayed at the back of the queue to let everyone tample me a path :D
After reaching an appropriate slope, we were practicing our "what to do when you're sliding downhill" manouveures. This seemed to range from simply saying "oops I've fallen over", to working out where exactly to slam your ice axe without piercing yourself too much!
Saturday night came along and we treated ourselves to decent showers and lovely (hot) food. On the Sunday we made it up to the ski slopes and this allowed us to get up on the hills properly. After watching a rather swift bloke on skis skipping over the slopes we were wading through, I could soon see the attraction of a 'couple of pieces of plyboard tied to your feet'.
All too soon we found ourselves back in the car headingback towards the North West (whilst I was snoring again). Thanks very much for a fantastic adventure Ninette and Clive - we'd love to do it again!