Sunday, 3 February 2013

Winter ML Assessment Day 4

Day 4:

At 8 am it was time to get melting snow for brews and I had not managed to get any sleep. I also did not get to wake to the smell of bacon as the snow holes closer to Danny's did. Danny had decided on luxury, and Steve, our Assessor said cooking bacon on a winter MLA was a first for him!

Into the bargain I felt really sick which limited the amounts I managed to eat through the day (not ideal for a long winter mountain trip).

Before heading out for the day Steve gave us all a quick debrief on our performance so far. Once again mine was really encouraging; words to the effect that so far, so good. If I keep up what I’m doing, I’ll be fine!

Snowhole village as opposed to the snowhole city!

I got to navigate the first leg leading us out towards Cairn Toul. By now we realised the going was really slow, averaging 1 - 2 kph in the deep snow. We also realised as we climbed the slopes towards Sgor an Lochain Uaine that the Low Pressure was winning the Battle of the Weather and the wind was rising significantly.

Wind beginning to rise! Climb up to the ridge as the sun sets.
Danny's photo

 Neil navigated us to the spotheight 1265 of Einich Cairn in now what was driving spin drift and debilitating winds.

My next leg was a spur down the slopes back towards Tom Dubh and our snowholes. By now the spin drift was incredible and on the lower slopes there were times when I felt to be going uphill only to turn round and see that the group behind me were actually higher. Very disorientating! The only way to have done an aspect of slope would have been to send people out in front.
Walking on a bearing through a boulder field and in the wind was not much fun; I managed to fall over and smack both my knee and head on different rocks. Fortunately by torch took the brunt of the head rock!

 After several long legs by the groups, we finally returned to our snowholes at 11.30. By now I was exhausted having been unable to eat for most of the day.  I had the final leg to find our snowhole village, and all the doorways had been filled in by snow. The amazing thing was that the snow hole really felt like a haven and home. I didn't find myself longing for a warm bed and central heating! I was just so glad to be out of the blizzards! (despite the spindrift which was pouring in through the door and covering everything)

By now I was counting down the hours to the end of the Expedition (mistakenly thinking we would be back at the car by midday on the Friday!)

The next few hours were spent cooking, rehydrating, clearing snow, trying to stop spindrift from covering our sleeping bags and equipment and so no one got to bed before 2.30. I think I managed 2 hours sleep from 4 am onwards having shivered for 2 hours. We were having to get up every 2 hours maximum to check that our doorways hadn't filled in.


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