For the past few years I have wanted to do some mountain touring, I even bought myself some posh skis and boots, but never quite got out to actually use them until last week. Pete was good enough to organise a trip, there was snow and I had a pass out. I’ve often looked up at the Buck when I’m in the Clash car park and thought it would be great to ski up it. Now my opportunity had come.
Mountian tours have been a bit of mixed bag with the club over the past few years with not much take up, but when I turned up at the Clash car park I was suprised to find not only Peter Thorn and Dave Horsely but also Deborah and Claudia May ,Rick Newman and Colin Miller. Jason turned up just after me.
A quick glance around the gear showed that leather boots and fish scales were in the majority. Fortunately Dave made me feel like I hadn’t completely gone over the the top as he was sporting some plastic boots as well and a beefy pair of tele skis. We all then jumped into two cars and made our way round to the bottom of the Buck where and set off up the hill. As we were putting our gear on Frank Musgrave turned up.
The conditions were fairly benign, it wasn’t raining or snowing but it was blowing a gale that got worse as we higher. The snow was quite granular and transformed, but fine to ski on.
From the start the Buck is one of those hills that just gets steeper and steeper until you are pretty much at the top.We all had skins on our skis. I had a pair of Black Diamond kicker skins that were much shorter than the full length ones sported by everybody else and as the gradient got steeper I found everybody else was going straight upwards and I was zig-zagging across the hill and herring boning to get enough grip.
Eventually I got the the top of the hill, what seemed about 30 minutes after Deborah May who flew up. The rocks at the top of the hill gave us a break from the wind and we had a quick stop for a snack and drink. It seemed almost everybody else had a map and compass and was comparing bearings . I’m afraid my compass was hanging in the kitchen at home (remember next time!).
Having got to the top of the hill the bit that I was really worried about now raised its ugly head – going down! I’m not the strongest down hill skier and I was skiing on newish boots and skis. Fortunately the route we took down the far side of the Buck isn’t as steep as the road side and I was able to get down with some snow ploughs and even put some tele turns in as the gradient got flatter. We then headed over to Kebbuck Knowe and then to the wonderfully named Hill of Snowy Slack. At one point during this I was skiing over what I thought was quite flat ground, only for the cloud to clear to reveal I was up on a ridge with quite a steep drop off to my right. This left me quite a bit more nervous, but elated at the beauty of the snowy landscape at the same time! The view was tremendous with what seemed the whole of Aberdeenshire at our feet. All around us was snow fields and then green came in as the elevation dropped away.
Returning over the Buck we split into two groups, the hard core skiers going straight back over the top of the hill and the rest skirting around to the right of the Buck and over to Craigenscore Hill and traverse back to meet the others who we showing off their telemarking skills coming down the front of the Buck. We finally made it back to the cars about 1pm for sandwiches and a hot drink.
I had a tremendous time, would love develop my downhill skills further and spend more time out in the snow hills.
Photos from Peter Thorn