Sunday 8th February 2009
The Strachan to Fettercairn road was closed but access to Glen Dye was still open to allow us to reach the car park for the Clachnaben walk we had planned. Three cars were already in the car park in a foot of snow and we positioned our 4x4 to allow egress on our return.
Bill, Jim, Jeff and I set off at 10.10am through the forest which had been transformed into a magical place with the heavily snow clad branches stunning in geometric patterns.. Soon we were out in the open in minus temperatures and studying the distant summit tor of Clachnaben, beyond the Dye forest, with a blue sky setting off the pristine white hill.After a hot drink at the bench in front of the forest we proceded to ascend through the trees where sheep were sheltering and looking for vegetation.
On emerging from the forest we were faced with a magnificent view of the distant summit and I had to capture it on panoramic format!(see Bill's digital of me in action).Soon we were stepping on to the deep snow covered heather slopes but the normal path was invisible and we followed the directissma route already carved out by earlier walkers.The ascent was slow and exhausting as at any moment we sank in above the knee and extracting oneself took a lot of energy.After 3/4 of an hour we reached the summit tor to find rock climbers ascending the almost vertical cliffs whilst we sat in the shelter of the tor lunching in brilliant sunlight.Descending proved as awkward as the ascent because of hidden potholes hidden by 2ft of snow but soon we reached the lower slopes where the trail of footsteps had been transformed into a continuous channel by the many subsequent climbers.Thoughts of continuing on to Mt Shade were dispelled by my companions and I must admit I was secretly glad as the extra weight of my Fuji 617 plus tripod had taken it's toll ! Back at the car park there were now 12 cars packed in to the snow restricted layout but we were soon on our way to a deserved celebratory pint in the Banchory Douglas Arms.

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