01 December 2011
8.34 km/392 m/02:30 hrs
Graham: Carn na h-Easgainn (No. 12)
A few days ago I had done something against all my principles – I had bought a pair of really heavy, sturdy leather boots (Meindl Himalaya)!!
There was only one reason for that: If I wanted to climb Munros in winter conditions, I would need crampon-compatible boots. Although my MicroSpikes are fine on icy paths and even on easy-angled hills covered in consolidated snow, they reach their limits when the terrain becomes too steep and the 1 cm spikes don’t get enough grip.
I had been wearing the boots in the shop for almost an hour and, although they felt awkward and heavy at first (compared to Inov8 Roclites!), I found them surprisingly comfortable. But still, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear them for a full day on the hills without breaking them in, so I decided to try them out on a short walk up a Graham, just a few miles south of Inverness.
From the small parking area at Lynebeg a landrover track (not marked on the map) leads all the way up to the summit .
Frozen peat hags, and the Speyside hills in the distance.
Sunshine on the Strathfarrar hills to the west.
Approaching the summit.
Carn na h-Easgainn trig point.
From the summit, I walked SE to get a better look at the wind farm at Farr.
By now, grey clouds were darkening the sky and a snow shower was approaching. I had read about a bothy west of the summit, and tried to get there in time to shelter from the snow.
The gate to the terrace was frozen solid and I had to climb over the bannister. It was a bit of hard work to move the door bolt as it was frozen as well, but I managed to get inside before the snow started. I had a lunch break in the warm and cosy bothy, and when I had finished, the sun was shining again.
I returned the same way, passing the summit again.
View to the Moray Firth, the Kessock Bridge just visible left of centre.
Regarding the boots, I was pleasantly surprised about how grippy they were on snow and icy patches. My feet stayed dry as well (a totally new experience!), but I don’t know if I will get used to the fact that I can’t feel the ground I am walking on.
Besides, even a very easy stream crossing felt unsafe, because the stiff soles only had one point of contact with the rounded stepping stones, like a plank balancing on a ball. I wonder how I will get on with the boots in the future 😕