Lovely views but a bitter easterly blowing on the plateau (Munros Completed : Ben Chonzie (61)).
Third consecutive day of this trip so I had decided on an easy day and Ben Chonzie seemed a logical choice, especially as it’s a nice drive along Loch Earn to the start. You need to plan your day carefully though as the last 5 miles is up a single track road. There was a slight sprinkling of snow on it from the previous night when I drove up so I was sligthly concerned that I may not get there or back but it was mainly flat so felt it was accessible. No forecast of snow or bad weather during the day so the return journey wasn’t a concern either.
There is a small parking area outside a house for about half a dozen cars just before the road splits off to the left and off to the right up to the two white cottages. There was no one else there when I arrived and my choice of route for the day turned out to be a good one.
Most of the approach is along an easy hydro track with lovely views. I started at 10:15 am, & after half an hour reached the snow line on the track. At first this was patchy but as I got further along it became deeper, up to boot height. I did worry that if it was this deep here so early on, what would it be like higher up considering there had been snowfall during the night.
However, about 10 mins before the point where you turn off the track, at a small cairn on the side of the road, I noticed another person coming up behind me. He soon caught up with me & as he passed we chatted. It turns out he was from Fort William & it was a stroke of luck for me as he slightly faster. Once he had passed he then started making trail and it was at this point that the snow was knee deep in places. I was glad of my fellow hill walker as this trail breaking through the snow saved me a lot of energy & time. Once you leave the track it’s a relatively easy angled ascent up the hill.
It no time at all I was over the hill where the angle eases off & the old fence posts come into view. I followed these for a short distance at which point they turn at right angles along a very broad ridge which is practically flat all the way to the summit. However, since gaining the ridge the wind had picked up significantly and was now blowing furiously across the ridge. The only good side was that the snow had frozen with the cold wind & was now firm & easy to walk on. No need for crampons or even an ice axe on a such a broad ridge so I hastily continued onwards as the wind was now biting cold.
Only 200m from the top I met the other person descending and as he passed me, he took some pictures. The visibility was good but the windchill must have meant it was 0C to -15C. There was little time to stop as it was too cold. I took a few pictures & almost lost my map case that got blown 50m down the ridge before stopping. I was lucky to catch it!
The return is was retracing the same ascent route but I was glad to get out of the wind once back onto the hydro track & eventually returned to car at 3:15 pm for a good early finish.