Thursday, March 25, 2010

Braid Cairn adventure ski

I used to bike up the Tarland road from Aboyne in the Spring to see a strip of snow splitting Braid Cairn hill in Glen Tanar. I recall imaging skiing down it many times, now I do not need to imagine, I have skied that exact track of snow.

I also skied Gathering Cairn. There was so much to ski but the weather while bright was real windy and a weather front was approaching. Leaves something new to explore for when I next have the energy for an 8 hour walk, climb and ski.

hardly a swim 2010

The best laid plans in all that. 2009 was all about gradually getting back into competitive swim shape. I think I got there especially on the endurance side and I trained regularly but this year I don' think I have been in the pool more than once a month. I picked up an innocent shoulder strain over the festive period and its turned out to be a show stopper in terms of swim training. It seems to be in the stretching of the right arm and at full extension and at cross extension that the pain brings on an acute grimace. It does get better with rest but I think I am looking at 2-3 months of rest and then build things from there. So, looks like a half year of swimming in 2010, not what I had planned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

First free skiing Craigmahandle

Craignmahandle sounds like a bit of windup name, but its a hill in Glen Tanar where I go hill walking, yesterday I added it as a place to go skiing too.

I had expect the snow cover in the walk in to be reduced or gone completely, like in Aboyne. But I got that all wrong, icy and hard packed snow, then it was 3 inches of spring snow, then 6 six, then a foot and then 40cm. 40cm of solid wet snow and that was just after 1 hour of walking. There was a set of tracks to follow but they were to slippy to follow so I just cut a fresh path. A lot sooner than I had prepared myself for, the mind games started: is it going to be possible get up this hill?, its a two hour walk in at the best of summer times. Progress was slow but I stopped regularly for rests and set mini milestones for where to get to. The snow kept on getting deeper as the path climbed. As it turned out the hike up yesterday was a lot more dangerous than the descent. The paths have drainage channels cut into them but they were under a lot of snow but I seemed to find every one, that meant a twist to each knee. So, every step was checked and I walk with my ski poles, so that allows you to catch your weight when your footing shoot away. This step by step focus took the focus away from main goal of getting up the hill but before long the tree line was below me. The views were amazing, Mount Keen and Lochnagar soaking up the sun. But it was no blue sky day another immediate danger was abound. The wind. A fresh north westerly was forecast but it was blowing a gale, at least it was blowing me up the hill. The hill was a mass of snow patches, snow was firming up to soft spring but the legs were liable to disappear as the snow sank un expectantly. A bare rock ridge made for quicker progress but I did loose my left leg to a whole in the rocks. Time to get the ski on. A change in to dry warm socks, a challenge in a storm force wind. I was skiing.

Skiing on deep porridge again but I must be getting the hang of the technique and the wind was breaking my speed. The tree line was reached, ancient Caledonia pine forest, the grandest of old trees. Much to my surprise the skiing around the trees was doable. What fun. The flatness of the valley floor meant that gravity was not helping much now, the slog home to Aboyne was ahead. I got a lift to Glen Tanar on the way up but I was walking home, just another 2 miles to add to the expedition. The snow was real wet lower down but the skis were kept on, a ski time of 2 hours in the ski boots was recorded. No snow on the walk home, felt like you were walking with zero effort, now 50cm of sludge to kick through was missing. 7.30am start and home a 3pm. By then the hills were wrapped in clouds and getting battered in the wind.