Sunday, 29 March 2009

Lots of wind, snow and great views

Kim and I walked in with Ron, David and Ken to Coire Cas and then we parted company and headed up in the winds to the plateau. The spindrift was creating some amazing features in the snow as we crossed over to get some shelter above Stac an Fharadh. We sat there in the sun, sheltered from the wind before venturing up into the gusts again and on to the summit of Cairngorm.
Some pictures and more information from Ron here

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Blizzards and high ropes

It was a day for the cadets to choose their own activities and groups went clay shooting, kayaking, to explore Culloden and to try out the high ropes course.
I was with the groups at the high ropes and in the morning we had the added challenge of blizzards which made the course a little bit more challenging.
Cairngorm was looking a lot more snowy by this afternoon so hopefully more winter to follow!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

John, Lionel and I took our adventurous Winchester cadets on a snowholing expedition yesterday. We started off from Coire na Ciste car park and headed up the ridge past Cnap Coire na Spreidhe to Ciste Mhearad. It was a bit blowy but not unpleasant so after stopping for a break and a chat with Al (, who was there with a Glenmore Lodge group, we headed off towards Stac an Fharadh which was our planned destination for the night. The weather was none too friendly around the south side of Cairngorm and the windslab was getting deeper and deeper so we backtracked to Ciste Mhearad.
There was one snowhole already dug out and as it looked very comfortable, we designated this as "the leaders' lodge"! The guys were keen to get digging so off they went, tunnelling at great speed into the snow.
By late afternoon, it was drizzling though this changed to snow as the evening went on and the wind was picking up. We were all glad to be inside by this time. During the night, the snow and spindrift came pouring into the corrie and I went out a couple of times to check the entrances had not become blocked. The guys' snowholes were fine but we had to dig our entrance out a couple of times.
After a leisurely start this morning, we walked back on good, frozen neve and ice with some drifting fresh snow past the Ptarmigan restaurant and then down alongside the ski area and on to cups of tea and warm showers at Norwegian Lodge.
The two other groups of cadets set off yesterday on a camping trip to walk from Linn of Dee to Achlean and they experienced strong winds yesterday then a lovely walk out through Glen Feshie today.

Monday, 23 March 2009

A windy, wintry day

Over the past two days, I have been out with groups from Winchester College Combined Cadet Force and a busy time it has been too. We've had a mixture of sun, wind, rain, sleet and snow, in fact just about every combination of weather possible. Both days were spent practising skills on the Coire Cas headwall then on Sunday we went on up to Cairngorm along with the group's garden gnome too!
Today Lionel and I took another group of cadets into Coire an t-Sneachda to dig some emergency shelters and on the way back, we all gained a wintry coating of snow.
There were very few people out today!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Vent, Coire an Lochain

An early start from the car park today and Coire an Lochain looked a little bit eerie with all the mist floating around. Ron and I went up to the Vent which had some very nice ice though it was a bit drippy near the bottom. I'm glad we had an early start!
It was quite a different climb to the last time I was there when it was totally banked out with snow. Much more interesting this time!
Back down to Aviemore by lunchtime to sit out in the sun with good views back into the Northern Corries.
Photos and video clips from Ron here

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Lots of gullies and some ice too

A lovely weather day so Ron and I went out climbing.
We went up Crotched Gully then into Spiral Gully which got us quickly up on to the plateau and as it was far too early to head down, we walked over to Hell's Lum to see if The Escalator was looking good and it was. So up that and there was still lots of time left so we dropped down Half a Gully to climb Fiacaill Couloir.
Ian took his fat Freetrek skis for a walk up Cairngorm to enjoy the views and then had great fun skiing back down.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Navigation and snowholes

Sue, John, Paul and I navigated our way up to Ciste Mhearad today and it was certainly less windy than yesterday!
We found a big snowhole to hide away in for lunch before digging our own emergency shelters and looking at snow profiles and talking about avalanche awareness.
Unfortunately, we found two candles that had been left behind in the big snowhole. Not good as these add to the litter that appears when all the snow melts. We brought the candles out with us! Ciste Mhearad was quite busy today with a couple of other skills groups and a happy group of young ski tourers. All very sociable.
Ron had an interesting semi-axeless climb...look here for more info

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Windy winter skills

Paul, John and Sue came along on the Bank of Scotland's Hillwalking Club winter skills weekend and encountered the Cairngorm winds today!
We found a pleasant spot on the side of the Fiacaill Ridge for ice axe breaking then headed into Coire an t-Sneachda and the moraine ridge for lunch. Then, for some practice with the crampons, we went up below the Mess of Pottage to the plateau. As we reached the top, the wind gusted strongly and blasted ice particles upwards so it was not a good idea to look back down! On the plateau itself, we discovered the skill of walking without actually moving forward, so strong was the wind. We dropped back down from Point 1141 into a much calmer Coire Cas.
Apparently the ski area closed early after recording wind speeds of 80 to 115mph!
Ron was out climbing on The Runnel today

Friday, 13 March 2009

In a sheltered, sunny spot with some trees

Alan and I had a morning out of the wind todayl ooking at different ways of using the rope, tying in, belaying and creating belays before he had to travel back to Inverness for his flight home this afternoon.
Good luck to Alan with his goal of climbing Gran Paradiso later in the year.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Being blown up Jacob's Ladder

Walking in to Coire an t-Sneachda was definitely less windy than yesterday's adventure up to the summit of Cairngorm but would it last? The gusts picked up as we headed to the bottom of Jacob's Ladder and the strong winds helped us on our way up the gully. We climbed out on the right where there was a little rocky step. Other groups climbed out on the left which looked good too.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Windy Cairngorm

Alan and I went for a windy walk up Cairngorm today and then dropped down into Ciste Mhiread for a bit of shelter from the strong, gusty winds. After some navigation practice, we splashed our way through the slushy bits above the ski area to retreat downwards again.
There were a few folk out skiing and one tow, a rope tow perhaps, was the only one that seemed to be running up at the top.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Bynack Mor - almost!

Kath, Peter, Kim and I walked up from Glenmore Lodge through the forest towards Ryvoan and on to Bynack Mor. We could hear the wind roaring through the trees around us.
After finding a sheltered spot for an early lunch, we began the walk up to Bynack Mor and to begin with there were snow showers and it was a bit windy! The wind increased as we got higher and in the end, we had to stop about 150m below the summit as, even when we were sitting down, we were getting blown along the ground.
It was a bit difficult to get a photo of Peter and Kath standing up as we all kept getting blown down!
With the fresh snow, it all felt very wintry again and we were all looking quite snowy as we returned.
Apparently the wind speed at the ski area was recorded as 70 to 80mph at lunchtime and it certainly felt like it on Bynack Mor!
Ron and the winter skills group went into Coire an t-Sneachda and more from Ron here

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Around the Northern Corries

Peter, Kath, Kim and I walked into the wind and up the ridge alogside Coire and Lochain to find white out conditions, more wind and scoured snow and ice. Great for the crampons and the navigating!
We carried on around the top of Coire an t-Sneachda and as we stopped for a bite to eat, the mist lifted and we were surprised to see so many climbers popping out of the routes in the corrie.
Whilst it was windy today, the wind semed to drop a bit this afternoon and we had snow showers for a while too.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

A lot of Aladdin's!

Snow in Aviemore this morning had me wondering about the weather forecast but it turned into a great day as the snow showers past and the wind dropped.
I went climbing with Ron and Keith again today and we climbed up Aladdin's Mirror Direct to begin with then continued on up to Aladdin's Seat then down Aladdin's Couloir and back up to the start of the Mirror to collect the rucksacks.
The only thing that was not so good about the day was the guy that followed closely on my heels as I climbed the Mirror. It took away from my enjoyment of the climbing because I was so worried about knocking any ice down on him and the ice was rather fragile at the top.
Lots of snow about and some atmospheric spindrift came down the Mirror Direct as we were climbing.
Great fun and Ron has more photos and video clips here

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Trident area, Coire an t-Sneachda

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The weather was fantastic today - calm, sunny and cold!
I went in to climb with Ron and Keith and we climbed up a rocky rib between Central Gully and The Runnel. The first pitch was interesting but the best bit was to come higher up with a tricky, rocky corner to pull up through with the axes in good hooks. More scrambly climbing above then some squeaky snow at the top and we were into the sunshine on the plateau.
On the way back down, we stopped to have a look at the cornice above Jacob's Ladder - it had changed quite a lot since Monday as it now has a rather unwelcoming looking cornice!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Forty Thieves area and Jacob's Ladder

Back climbing again today and back into Coire an t-Sneachda to climb the route that Ron, Alastair and Charles climbed yesterday as they made it sound such good fun. The snow was lovely and solid and with lots of little wind scoops to drop into for a rest. All too soon, I was up on the plateau so I dropped back down below the Mess of Pottage to have a look for Ron and the guys and spotted them climbing a rocky rib to the right of Jacob's Ladder. As I was below Jacob's Ladder, the quickest way back up was to climb up that route on some rather large steps! The wind was beginning to pick up in the afternoon and some snow and rain showers were coming in. Snow forecast for tomorrow!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Mullach Clach a'Bhlair

A Munro-bagging day today for myself and Kim as we went to the Glen Feshie side of Cairngorm to go up Mullach Clach a'Bhlair. We were both surprised by how little snow there was so we spent most of the day navigating to little lumps and bumps all over the mountain looking at the shape of the land and the contours on the map rather than getting the compass out.
A few wintry showers came in around mid-day and visibility came and went though it cleared to give a pleasant walk back down through the heather.