Have you ever hiked in a Winter storm?


“It was titillating to brush up against the enigma of mortality, to steal a glimpse across its forbidden frontier. Climbing was a magnificient activity, I firmly believed, not in spite of the inherent perils, but precisely because of them.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air

 

I sit here, in Aviemore, with a coffee and a winter view to rival any mountain environment in the world - An entire world, away from home in London.

Nearly 10cm of snow has fallen in the past couple of hours and, with 20-30cm of the fresh white stuff expected up high, I've deemed it too dangerous to head into the mountains. So... Here is my first blog post!

 

Winter Hiking in UK

The 2018 City Mountaineering Winter Hiking season has got off to a great start with conditions that would challenge any hardened mountaineer.

The Introduction to Winter Mountaineering trip certainly was a great introduction for the group with Day-1 delivering high winds and complete whiteout conditions, whilst Day-2 offered clear skies and magnificent mountain views.

We love to see those photos of blue skies and white mountains, but it's not always such a picture-postcard place to be...

The Whiteout!

Have you ever hiked in a whiteout? The sky blends with the ground. A ground in which you have security. A firm footing. Safety.

The whiteout offers nothing for the sense that we rely on most in the mountains - sight!

Up, down, forward, back, left, right... Everything is white!

You walk forwards not knowing what you are about to step on. Is it firm, snow-packed ground, or is it thin air at the edge of a cliff?

We moved slowly and methodically. I followed the compass. The group followed my every step.

We hiked 5km through the whiteout, with a precipitous drop of 300m being offered by the ridge on our right-hand side... Invigorating... Exciting... Scary (Deadly?) to the uninitiated.

Then came the wind...

The second trip has just ended and to say it was a little challenging would be a slight understatement!

With thawing conditions from warmer weather over the previous few days, we had to get up high to practice Winter hiking and safety techniques... This sounds easy enough... We hike above the snow line at 650m and have a play around... Simple.

However!! The wind had other ideas and presenting us with 140km/h gusts, the mountain gods really didn't want us to climb high this weekend!

I tried to get the group up to 900m, if only to experience this wild force of nature. However, it was at 850m when I watched the group almost get strewn across the snowy landscape like discarded confetti.

It was then I decided (after chuckling hard to myself) that it was time to turn around... I think they understood the power of the wind...