Queensberry Mon 20th March 2006

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The view across the hills from home since the heavy snowfall last Saturday has been superb. The cover has remained constant and it had been my aim to get up there and get a few turns in.
I arrived at my start point, Mitchelslacks farm by 10 am where it was dry and fairly bright with high cloud cover.

Looking across to Queensberry
The drive up from Ae village

I was soon on my way through the farm and onto the track which leads up towards the burn. After passing a couple of dead sheep at the edge of the track I cut across onto the open hillside where the snow cover was a mix of heavy wet snow which being deep in places made walking difficult especialy carrying a pack with my board attached to it.
I had a decent view by now of just where the best snow was laying and I made the decision to go up to the top of Wee Queensberry (512m) first and drop off to the North side where there was a decent snowfield of about 5-600 m in length.

It was steep as I neared the summit and the Trig Point but the snow off the Northern flank looked even better than I had envisaged on the walk up. I soon strapped in and made my first turns of the day. The snow was granular and Springlike but near the top it was firm and I could get an edge and make a few long sweeping turns until the snow got wetter lower down and it was a matter of straight-lining it towards the bottom.

After my first run it was then time for a long hard slog up to the summit of Queensberry (697m). The temperature last night was only around 2 or 3'C so the surface was soft most of the way and I was sinking well into the snow which was tiring work until I got up a bit when it was possible to walk on a hard surface, making the going a lot easier. On the way up Queensberry the cloud rolled in from the North and there were a few heavy snow flurries. I was looking on the way up ,trying to find the best route to snowboard down as I wanted to make it as long a run as possible. I was certainly working hard for my turns today so I wanted to get the best snow the hill had to offer.

I knew early on in the day that I would not get more than one run from the summit of Queensberry and I was determined to make the most of it as it had been hard work and a real slog to get to the top. The view from the top was pretty decent and I could see across to the Moffat hills and then round towards the Daer Reservoir and below me was the huge Ae forest.
I gave myself a five minute break before strapping in and I knew in my mind the exact route I was going to take down. This was then interrupted as the cloud and mist closed in on the summit and it began to snow quite hard. I had to decide whether to sit it out and hope it cleared soon so that I could follow my planned route or just to go for it in a general direction. In the end I went for the second option and although visibility was poor the snow was hard underneath and I got some nice turns down for about 500m when the mist lifted and I could regain my bearings. I had actually drifted over much further to my right than I had thought but the snowfield was better than my original plan. This was ok an a hill like Queensberry which has no steep cliffs or nasty surprises but it proved to me yet again how difficult navigation can be in poor visibility and I would never ride blind down a mountain I am not very familiar with.

Summit plateau snowfield


Once the mist lifted I continued down as far as I could. The snow became softer and wetter the lower down the hill I got and the tufts of grass became bigger and more of a challenge. In the end I came to a halt and had to unstrap and walk the rest of the way back down to the car. I never got any pictures of the decent from Queensberry as the visibility seen to that.
It had been a good day out and I enjoyed the turns I got but it would have been so much better if there had been hard frosts the previous few nights. I should not complain as it was only a 15 mile drive from home and I was back in time for my dinner and to go out on nightshift at 5.30pm !!




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