Trip report courtesy of Jenny Ashworth.

Glen Affric – Strawberry cottage #speacialplace

We met at the Glen Affric car park and loaded Rachel’s van up with all the gear. Most people enjoyed the cycle along the track to Strawberry Cottage whilst Rachel and I blasted trad music as we took the Van down the track until the obstacle of the ford. As Rach and I were assessing if the van could go through the ford, Xav kindly decided to show us how deep the ford was by cycling through the ford and falling off halfway, confirming it was shin deep – not his only dip in the river of the trip. Rachel’s conclusion was the van would manage the ford so excitedly we crossed and made it to the other side! After settling in and having a lovely chilli for dinner we planned our routes for the next day, splitting into a walking group and a snow hunting group.

We woke early on Saturday and the walkers headed out along the ridge to M’am Sodhail along to Carn Eighe and Stob a Choire Dhomhain. The optimistic snow hunters headed out loaded with ski gear, ice axes and crampons in our walking boots; around the loch up the glen to the bowel of M’am Sodhail. We reached the bridge that crosses Allt Coulavie to find a broken bridge – time for the first river crossing! After watching Xav gracefully rock hop to the other side I followed full of enthusiasm forgetting I was considerably heavier with my backpack on, halfway across I did the spits and caught myself on a rock face inches from the water – amazingly still dry.

We carried on up to the snow line where we transitioned into ski boots and crampons. We started our walk up to the Ciste Dhubh . As there were a couple of us new to the club we decided to practise some ice axe arrests on the gentle slopes. Thinking we would practise a gentle slip and ice arrest we were all alarmed when Xav threw himself down the mountain rolling and then catching himself at the last minute. A big smile from Xav “that is how you practise an ice axe arrest”.

We climbed up to the ridge and then enjoyed a delightful spring snow ski down the gully south of M’am Sodhail -where we met some of the walkers on their way back down the ridge. We then climbed back up and walked over towards Carn Eighe and skied down towards Loch Uaine. After climbing back up to the ridge and over towards M’am Sodhail. We enjoyed our last ski down the gully south of M’am Sodhail. Most of the group transitioned back to walking boots, very happy with the days skiing. Meanwhile Rachel and Xav, determined to find more snow, skied down the burn line off Mullach Cadha Rainich.

We met them on the path and walked back towards Strawberry cottage. After reminding Xav how gracefully he leapt across the stream on the way in, I went and found a different place to cross the stream. Xav however decided to cross where he had previously. Halfway across the river I hear a roar of laughter and a large splash and turn to see Xav head chest and left arm and leg fully submerged in the river- not so graceful after all!

We made it back to the cottage with hearts full and big smiles. We enjoyed some home baking and chatted about the adventures of the day with a well-earned cuppa. We had a lovely meal of spaghetti starter and fajita main followed by an exceptional lemon polenta cake made by Emily.

Sunday after a brilliant fry up courtesy of Xav left to make their way home. The rest of us enjoyed a leisurely walk up to Carn a Choire Ghairbh. We found a snow filled gully and enjoyed some bivvy bag sledging, different techniques were used: Rachel went for the ‘sleeping bag technique’ which was definitely the speediest but decided to use the heather/ rocks to stop. Stewart and I went for the ‘nappy’ technique which enabled us to have control of speed and steering with the feet stopping well above the rocks. Al decided to use it to practice an ‘out of control’ ice ax arrest – proceeding to use the sleeping bag technique with his ice axe he hurtled down and successfully flipped over and used his ice axe to come to a stop just above the rocks- a display of personality types!

As my first IBCS weekend it was all I imagined , adventure, laughter, great food and lovely company! Safe to say Glen Affric – Strawberry cottage is a Special place.