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Crampons!

Having had a good play with the snowshoes (did I mention they are brilliant?) I decided to go up Hay Bluff today. I used the snowshoes to get to the base, not that I really needed them. Then there was a long icy path running diagonally along the side of the hill.

I changed from the snowshoes to crampons as it was a bit narrow in places. At the start it was pretty easy going but their was an icy section in the middle that was very slippery and I was happier crossing it with the crampons on. Even if they are museum pieces.

Further along the path sort of split and petered out. I also had a ski stick with me which helped, The path got much thinner with quite a drop down the side. Although the peak is 2221 ft you drive up most of that. There was still a scary slide down though.

At the top the wind was blowing so hard I could only just move against it. I got to the trig point where there was a lovely layer of ice clinging to the side, all sculpted by the wind, but I couldn’t get near the edge that overlooks the car park for fear of being blown off.

The view from the top was good but the wind made it unpleasant to stay for too long. There was blowing snow on the flank of the hill and although I met two people at the top who had come up from Gospel Pass after they left I didn’t see a soul.

On the way down it felt rather exposed. The wind was still blowing hard but it was great fun. I hadn’t had my sarnies at the top but I was worried the wind would take them if I got them out of the rucksack.

The car park where James and Sandra were waiting and playing in the snow seemed quite a way off. Hay Bluff can be a bit deceptive in that way. When Jacob was young we got caught half way down in the Autumn in a hail shower, even though the car was nearby it completely disappeared and it was very disorienting.

The path down had a bit in the middle where the wind wasn’t blowing and it was nice just standing admiring the view and the shapes carved out of the snow. It all gave the feeling of being somewhere like the Alps but without paying for the flights.

The path down seemed easier than it was coming up, I think it was thawing a little more. I managed to drop enough hints to a chap who didn’t look well equipped to not risk going up. You really did need crampons or sticks or an ice axe. A family turned back half way up which I thought was very sensible.

I really enjoyed it – but I must get some new crampons. The worst bit was trying to get the damn things on because they have the old fashioned straps and buckles, not an easy thing to do in a howling gale.

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