Day 7: 2017/18

Glencoe Mountain resort

Sunday was #WorldSnowDay so I thought I should stay another day. I’d taken Monday as a holiday from work, so was in no rush to go home. The morning at Glencoe was grey and windy. More snow was on the way and I had some concern that it would have been easier to leave the night before, but the amazing snow conditions got the better of me.

Word had spread about the amazing Saturday we had had and the car park was just as busy, despite the deteriorating conditions.

piste basher with Rannoch Moor backdrop

A False Omen

On the chairlift up the mountain in the morning I travelled alone, parallel to the river that runs down the mountain. Above the frozen waterfall, I spotted what I thought at first was a small tree. As I got closer, it became obvious, this was the neck, head and antlers of a red deer stag. I could only imagine the poor beast stopping above the waterfall, confused and lost before finally losing the fight against the icy fingers of death. It was consumed by a snowdrift and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day…

stag in snow

…That was until (fast forward to the evening), a member of the Glencoe team informed me that he had ‘installed’ Shenko the stag back in Spring as part of a treasure hunt. I was relieved, but a touch dejected as I’d posted a heartfelt commentary on Facebook and Instagram. I had to post an update so that I didn’t mislead anyone. The image itself was haunting, but worth leaving published.

Back to the slopes, I was getting a bad feeling in general. I was on my own and the weather was getting worse.

Sensory Deprivation

It’s not unusual to experience Glencoe Whitemares. All sensation of movement and speed is altered. I did a few blind runs through Main Basin. The snow still felt great. Another run down Ski Tow Gully gave the best sport. The Lift towers that gives the run its name allow you to take a bearing and gauge for speed.

Mugs Alley also gave you a chance to turn up the speed as visibility improved as you got lower down the mountain.

main basin t-bar

Call it a day

I took the Wall T-bar with the intent of coming down the Cross-Over and gabbing some untouched powder between the Wall and The Canyon. Dropping in from above the tow, I crossed over the T-bar track and I was soon in deep powder. I still couldn’t see much so this was mostly all by feeling, but I made a couple of deep powder turns, the board felt sweet under my feet. On the third turn, I felt the nose of my board dive under the snow. My head went straight to the snow and I was upside down. There was no impact, the snow was soft and deep. But, as I was inverted, I felt my left leg, hyper extended and the underlying ‘pop’ of something going in my knee.

With no pain, but a sensation of weakness, I nursed my way down to the cafe, where I attempted to walk off the injury. A slow throb started to make itself known. I decided to go get some food while I decided what to do. The Plateau Cafe has amazing chicken curry pies to distract me from my injury.

After eating I decided that the weather was only getting worse and the chances of injuring myself further were only increasing. Time to head home.

I took the Cliffhanger chair and managed to snowboard, fairly competently down Mugs Alley and the Plateau Run back to the Access Chair.

busy world snow day at glencoe

The Road to Perdition

The snow had intensified by the time I reached the bottom. I stuck my head in the cafe and it was heaving, so I defrosted the car and started the drive down the access road. Halfway down I came to a stop behind a queue of traffic. ‘Not again’ I thought. I assumed someone had got stuck before reaching the main road. I thought wrong. A couple of girls were working their way up the line of cars. When they got to me they informed me that the A82 road was closed in both directions. I looked to the distant road where there was a line of cars, some moving, some being pushed. There was the occasional group of people wandering aimlessly like a zombie apocalypse movie.

I was waiting 20 minutes for so before our traffic jam started moving. It stopped soon after and the radio came on with traffic news. There had been a serious road accident near the visitor centre in Glencoe. This explained why the snow plough was sitting in the traffic jam on the main road and not clearing it.

The line I sat in inched forward until Was at the junction. I asked advice on which way to from Charlie who was there with a digger helping clear the road. He suggested it was best to head south, away from the accident.

A plough had just passed southbound, so I turned right onto the road where I soon found myself sliding in a drift. I got out, cleared snow from the tyres and continued on at a steady 30mph.

snowy road conditions at glencoe snowy road conditions at glencoe

What followed were a couple of hours of the most anxiety filled driving I have ever done. From ice covered roads, to high speed winds at Loch Tulla, the road only got worse. The stretch from Inverarnan to Tarbet was horrendous with thick ice encrusting half of the lane. The snow was still falling and even the urban roads and motorway into Glasgow still had remnant snow.

Four and a half hours after leaving the hill I was home, albeit with anxiety levels through the roof and a dull ache in my knee. Looks like I’ve torn or partially torn my Medial Collateral Ligament. So knee supports and Ibuprofen will be the order of the day for a week or six, depending on the severity.

All in all though, this brought to an end a brilliant four days at Glencoe.

There is still a lot of snow on them hills, so let the recovery process begin.