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I've been perfecting my camel riding skills for the steamingly hot drought thats going to start in early April and continue till November. But as for spikes - probably too early to call. I wouldn't be surprised if they're needed for high level snow-patch crossings, though. Not sure about ice axes - the only useful one I've got is really heavy - my lightweight one is useless - you need a bit of ooomph wiv an ice axe...
It's way to early to tell if there will be snow or not. The snow could all be gone in a couple of weeks time. If it does go it might come back again, it might not. To my mind, small and feeble though it may be, one of the great things about the Challenge is that the weather is totally unpredictable. The only thing anyone can say with a degree of certainty is there will be weather.
Someone said microspikes.....
I tried these last April on a short camping trip in the Mamores, when all the tops were white with sun-crisped snow. Felt smug at having got them & found a chance to try them out before the Challenge.
They were hopeless. Balled up in no time, leaving me with a skidding rocker underfoot. I suppose it may have had something to do with my 3-season boots, but those had been vastly better with nothing at all, on similar conditions in the Fannaichs a month earlier.
As far as I'm concerned, if there's snow hanging around the hills at Challenge times, it will be either proper crampons or Foul Weather Alternative - unless some kind soul can enlighten me with a better solution.
Don't gloat, Aussie Mike - we could use a few of your 37 degrees to add to our minus-something.
You're right, your fist two items look good, but I think I'm too broke this year! I'll wait until nearer the time and look at the long-range weather forecast, for what it's worth.
I would like to put in a plea on behalf of microspikes. They are ideal for conditions such as icy paths, wind scoured hillsides or patches of highly compacted snow. When there is soft snow lying, you do get balling up: probably better to stick to kicking steps, if you can, or crampons with proper anti-balling plates. I think it was the conditions you came across, Jean, not your boots.
When there is snow on the hills, I usually take a combination of microspikes and “proper” crampons. This year, I have been trying out some Kahtoola KTS crampons (with the snow release skins) as suggested by AussieMike. I have worn them with my “three season” boots and have been very impressed so far. I would recommend the steel variety rather than aluminium if you are wearing them in Scotland.
I won’t be taking them on the Challenge, though. Strictly low level for me!
I did just that, Emma: kicked steps all the way up the upper part of fairly steep west side of Sgurr Eilde Mor from the lochan. The snow was pretty hard - indeed I was glad, part of the way, to "borrow" the steps someone else had kicked before me!
That's why, when I reached the summit ridge, I reckoned I'd best put on the microspikes for the descent.....and in that day's conditions they proved useless. I took a different route down.
I'll keep them for exactly what you describe, icy paths nearer home. I won't cart them up snow-capped sunny hills again.....
I've never tried them in deep snow - I've got snowshoes for that - but on hard, icy paths they're absolute magic - I wouldn't be without them!
Come to think of it, I didn't expect to be in snow, deep or otherwise - I'd asked a local on the 'phone and been told the Mamores were now bare. Just shows how much you can't see from the road: all tops were heavily covered.
I'll be packing a pair of (lightweight) Trail Crampons and my boss' ice axe. I'll also be keeping a close eye on my FWAs!