The season is over and the ski centre is closed, but for a while I’ve had the inclination to go snowboarding on my birthday. So, today, I took a day off work and went for a hike up Meall a’Bhùiridh and made it day 23 of the 2014/15 season.
The weather was due to turn around midday and we had some celebrations to get on with later in the day, so we made an early start from the carpark at 9:30. There was a chill in the air. Weather report was saying minus 3 wind chill at the top.
Hiking up under the chairlift started off as hot work. The sweat built up pretty quickly and it was only after around 40 minutes when we etched the plateau, that the breeze cooled us and the gradient was reduced. We hiked across the plateau to the closed cafe where wee stopped for a rest and a drink.
We looked up the top half of the mountain and planned our approach. The Wall was our route up last time, but this year it was still covered with snow. We wanted a rocky route up to make the going easier. We decided to walk around the bottom of the Wall, taking a route slightly more to the right side. The going was good and it wasn’t long before we were making our way up happy valley where we found the zig-zag path.
The hill was a lot quieter than I had expected. Late season snowfalls meant the temptation was there for any snow addicts like me, but on the way up we only met a couple of hikers, and a little snow bunting!
The wind was really picking up and it had a really chilly bite to it. I stuck my fleece back on as we crossed the summit ridge towards our starting point for the descent.
We reached the summit in around 2 hours so we were changed and in our snowboard gear ready to slide down Main Basin. We talked about having lunch just short of the summer, but decided to start making turns.
The snow was plentiful, it had only been 2 weeks since it was closed. The surface was perfectly smooth and felt great. We paused a couple of times to look back up the hill, then aimed for the Wall which was slightly steeper making for even sweeter turns. Crossing over the now quiet t-bar track we arrived at the bottom of Mugs Alley where our run ended. Big smiles after a 2 hour hike and 5 minute descent.
As we walked to the cafe to eat our packed lunches we bumped into some more snow addicts on their way up. We gave our feedback on conditions and wished them well. As we ate lunch, the rain started to spit and the wind was picking up. We made the right choice with an early start. We didn’t fancy the weather up top for the guys we had just spoken to.
On arrival a the top of the access lift we decided to jump on the chairlift to save a bit of time. We did have a party to get to after all!