This was a rescheduled attempt from earlier this year. Sarah (Mrs. FMF) has wanted to climb Tinto for some time. Having done it a few times I must admit to not liking it mainly due to its enormous popularity and the hordes wandering on it. Last time we had a child free weekend the WX was terrible so we cancelled. This time I was determined to get Sarah to the top. So I thought ‘typical’ when I looked out at 8am today into a howling blizzard. The snow wasn’t sticking to the road, just everything else. I decided we’d drive out and see what it was like before cancelling this time.
The gritters were out as we drove out at about 9.30am. The A70 was quite bad in places awaiting gritting, especially along The Lang Wang, the highest bit of road between my QTH and Tinto. Quite a few times the car switched into 4WD and I turned up the radio (Archers Ominbus) so Sarah wouldn’t hear the wheels slipping The snow was like tiny hailstones at my QTH but by the time we were near Tinto it was huge flakes. Having done the tourist path enough times my route was to go up from the West over Lochlyock Hill and up to the summit but I didn’t fancy driving the untreated narrow lanes so we decided to park in the main car park and do the usual route. Of course the car park was full (12 cars) when we arrived and Sarah was quite impressed that there so many loonies climbing it when you couldn’t see more than 25m. There were two colours to the view, white and grey!
The car thermometer said -1C and the wind was Baltic. Full waterproofs for this ascent. I knew it was cold, Sarah was ready in about a minute. By the time I was ready the back of the car was full of snow. D’Oh! This was to be my 1st off-road session with my new boots. I picked up some Meindl Burma Pros a few weeks back and have been road testing them on the local lanes. Boy is it different walking in proper boots with a stiff sole compared to lightweight fabric boots. But as a pair of Berghaus Explorer IV boots seemed to be failing after 88 summits I thought I’d push the boat out and get some real ones.
We set off in the blizzard and had no problems following the path. Normally I bring Brian G4ZRP along to find the deep holes but I let Sarah take over this time. I’d kept telling Sarah to walk in other people’s footprints but she wouldn’t listen. Then she found the big wet bit but just avoided getting in over the boot top. She decided walking in footprints wasn’t daft after that! The snow stopped half way up and the cloud cleared a bit. Up, up and up. It’s not hard at all or really very steep. One of Scotland’s easier 4 pointers.
There was about 8in of snow in the drifts at the top. The top is a huge prehistoric cairn with many smaller windbreaks built from the big cairn. But the wind was so strong it whistled around and nowhere was still. Significant spindrift was blowing about making it hard to keep stuff dry. I set up on 5MHz whilst Sarah had some coffee. She had to warm up the camera battery before it would play. Meanwhile I tried for some contacts. It was bedlam-ish on FE. INKy was just QSYing and Rob G4RQJ was calling from LD-057 and trying to work Frank G3RMD at the same time I called during what seemed a quite spell to me. 5MHz conditions were awful but due to our own incredibly low local noise levels I managed a contact with Rob. I don’t know how many worked Swinside in total but I was very surprised I did! I only managed another 4 contacts, all were long distances, G3RMD, G0RQL, M1MAJ/P and G0ANV/P and that was it on 5MHZ. Frank advised me 80m was working well but Sarah was shivering a lot. Now if I was on my own I’d have set up on 80m but as I’ve only got one Sarah and I don’t want to break her and Tinto isn’t rare at all I wasn’t going to prolong her suffering. So a quick call on 2m FM to see if I could find Jack GM4COX and we packed up and went down. Back at the car in no time and the sun was shining. It was still damn cold though!
How did the boots work? Well they need a bit more breaking in, or more accurately my feet do. But I felt more comfortable that I have done of late with the soft Berghaus boots. The Berghaus have done well and if I wasn’t carrying 14kg on my back (plus my lardy 100kg frame) every weekend I’d have stuck with them. If you’re looking for boots then I have to praise my local outdoor shop, Tiso in Edinburgh. I could have got these boot on t’internet cheaper but I wouldn’t have got the benefit of the two dudes in the shop. I tried boots by Raichle, Scarpa, Zamberlan and a few others before settling on these. There was no pressure to buy, in fact the opposite. They wanted me to get the right boots not just some boots from them. They didn’t even try and sell me any treatments either. This is way sales should be. No pressure just good advice. It works too as I’m recommending them simply because the service was so good!
The other investment I’ve made is a proper drybag. No more using ASDA carrier bags (see the many photos on Flickr). I’ve bought an Exped foldtop bag. It’s easy to open and close with gloves on and has a transparent panel so you can see what is inside. Far too many times I’ve emptied the rucksack on a summit and ended up with snow or rain blowing into a carrier bag dampening the contents. Now it’s easy, the drybag can be left in rain or snow and the contents stay sealed and dry until need. Best £7.60 I’ve spent for sometime and I would recommend everyone to invest in a proper drybag as it makes life just a lot easier.
Distance walked: 6.7km, total ascent: 479m, distance driven: 50miles
Pictures on Flickr (if not, they will be soon.)