Cross-country skiing is something I have always wanted to try and my interest was rekindled recently after reading Adam Watson’s accounts of cross-country skiing journeys in his recently-published autobiography (see my recent blog post ‘It’s a fine day for the hill‘). It is quite different from regular alpine or downhill skiing, using different techniques, boots, bindings and skis.
Archive for the ‘Mountains & hills’ Category
Last week I travelled to Aberdeenshire and walked to the 589m summit of Clachnaben from Glen Dye. Despite being a relatively small hill, Clachnaben is very distinctive in having an unusual and large granite tor on the summit.
The weather conditions on this walk were quite unusual with not a trace of snow for many miles around despite the late winter date (February 24th). Temperatures were quite mild and the air was very clear but the wind was very strong so it was cold higher up the hill.
Yesterday I went on a short 1-day winter skills course at Glenmore Lodge. The course was an avalanche and navigation awareness course.
There were a couple of classroom lectures about about planning winter routes in the mountains and about avalanches in general. The bulk of the day however was spent in a small group on the slopes of the Cairngorms above Glenmore lodge, with some micronavigation and general navigation techniques for winter walking routes and then a climb through some difficult terrain of snow-covered heather to Coire Laogh Mòr to find some deep snow.
1. The divide in the discipline of Geography
Geography is a somewhat schizophrenic discipline. Is it a ’social’ science or is it a ‘hard’ science? The two aspects of the discipline have been in conflict since the ‘quantitative revolution‘ of the 1950s and 1960s within Geography, and the ‘hard’ science of Geography is represented in many respects now by the field of Geographical Information Science (GIS).
Maps are at the very centre of this conflict - what they represent, what their purpose is, how they are constructed and perceived, and what effect they have on society and individuals.
Adam Watson has been continuously observing and collecting data about snow in the north-east of Scotland (and particularly in the Cairngorm mountains) since the 1930s, and this important book represents the culmination of that activity. It will have a strong claim in the future to being the standard reference work in the discipline of research into and observation of long-lasting snowpatches and snow-cover in general in the Scottish mountains.
Adam Watson can surely lay claim to being a true ‘Mountain Man’ of Scotland - perhaps the premier contemporary claimant to this auspicious title!
Adam Watson’s recently published ‘It’s a fine day for the hill‘ (subtitled ‘And once in a blue sun and moon’, the meaning of which is explained in the book) is his personal memoir of mountain exploits (especially in the Cairngorm and Mounth regions of the Scottish mountains) in the years from the 1940s to the early 1960s and the people he has known. In his time he has been a young amateur naturalist, a gillie, a student and researcher, a bird-watcher, a hillwalker, a rock climber, a mountaineer, a cross-country skier, a writer and an environmental scientist.
Using GIS techniques to analyse and model the topographical environment and dependencies of long-lasting snowpatch locations in the Scottish mountainsWednesday, December 7th, 2011
One of my pet interests is the study of long-lasting (and sometimes ‘perennial’) snowpatches in the Scottish mountains. I have written many previous postings on my blog on this subject (see a list of these on my website here).
The question of what factors affect the longevity of snowpatches in the Scottish mountains through the summer and autumn seasons, and potentially until they are covered permanently by the snow of a subsequent winter (making them ‘perennial’), is one which has been discussed at some length in the relevant academic and scientific literature since the early 20th century (see a complete list of these references on my website here). Simply put, these factors are many and varied, but include:
Last week I went for a short walk in Glen Lethnot, one of the Angus glens north of Brechin, with my friend Katy. We walked from the farm at Auchowrie, up the west slope of Hill of Wirren, to look for two air wreck sites on the hill. However the weather was not as good as we had hoped and the light was very poor in the low cloudbase (not very good for photos), so we only investigated one of these sites, that of a Bristol Beaufort bomber that crashed on the hill in 1942.
Last week I went for a short walk on the moorlands to the east of Largs, in the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. I was looking for the wreckage of a BEA Vickers Viking, one of the first commercial passenger aircraft in the UK, that crashed in the area in 1948 on approach to Renfrew Airport near Glasgow.
Last week I travelled to the Cairngorms and spent the day walking in the Braeriach area. I walked from Whitewell in the Rothiemurchus Forest, into the Lairig Ghru and up along Coire Beanaidh (where I spent a night camping on a Mountain Leader training course three years ago) to the 1296m summit of Braeriach. I wanted to explore Coire Beanaidh to see if I could discover any wreckage from a World War Two Airspeed Oxford training aircraft that crashed on Braeriach in 1943. I found many pieces of the aircraft in the upper reaches of the corrie, including the two engines from the Oxford. This wreckage does not seem have been recorded by anyone else, in any book or website, to the best of my knowledge.