Friday, 26 March 2010

A week in the west with Winchester College CCF

Last Friday I headed off west to Tulloch to work with Winchester College Combined Cadet Force on their regular Easter Camp. The base was the Joint Services Training Lodge at Tulloch and I had accommodation at Tulloch Station Lodge, the warm and comfortable bunkhouse in the old station buildings on the railway platform.
On our first day we took the gondola up to Aonach Mor to learn and refresh basic winter skills, step kicking, cutting and ice axe braking then Fergus, Neil and I took our groups up onto the plateau then to the summit where we got some brief glimpses across to Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis.
On Sunday we were all up and away early for a hill day and some navigation practice on Stob Coire Easain with a steep scramble up the nose of Meall Cian Dearg before following the long ridge to the summit where the cadets performed the Winchester College version of a rugby scrum much to the amusement of the other folk at the summit and a curious collie dog who wanted to join in with the fun.
On Monday the strong winds and heavy rain in the morning gave us all the chance to look at how to use the stoves safely and how to pitch the tents before going out for a low level micro-navigation day at Fersit.
Despite the strong winds that were forecast we planned our overnight expedition to Creag Meagaidh for Tuesday and Wednesday. Fergus, John and I were to take a group up to The Window to dig snowholes whilst Ian was to take another group to camp by the lochan in a very scenic and sheltered spot. Neil joined Ian's group later in the evening walking in by torchlight to the camp.
Our group of cadets burrowed enthusiastically into the snow and dug out two good snowholes from scratch whilst Fergus, John and I were a little bit lucky when we dug into a roomy two person snowhole quite by mistake and then found a huge four or more person snowhole at least three metres into the snowdrift!
The weather had been fairly kind to us on the walk in though the wind did pick up as the day wore on and the snow was quite damp whilst we were digging though it did freeze up a bit overnight.
On Wednesday morning we woke up to mist, drizzle and more wind so time to head back down rather than up to the summit of Creag Meagaidh. We passed Ian and Neil with their group as they were going up to check out the snowholes.They also decided against going on to the summit and came back down to dismantle the tents.
On the last day, the cadets had a choice of activities at the Ice Factor where they all had a great day out on the ice wall, the climbing wall and the high ropes.
Everyone headed back home today - back to Winchester, Aviemore, Stirling and Fife. All in all, a great week!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A mountaineering meander around Coire an t-Sneachda

Alan and I walked into Coire an t-Sneachda again today but instead of heading up to the climbs as the forecast strong winds on the plateau didn't sound too inviting, we climbed up the back of the Fiacaill Ridge to just below the little col then we headed back down the ridge.
The combination of the clouds, snow and blue sky made the scenery all very atmospheric and gave us heaps of photos!
There was quite a queue of folk below Goat Track Gully and Alan counted at least eighteen people heading up!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Central Gully, Coire an t-Sneachda

Alan and I went into Coire an t-Sneachda today looking for a gully to climb and had an enjoyable time on Central Gully. We saw other folk climbing on The Runnel, Spiral Gully, Pygmy Ridge and more.
Again, the views were fantastic across the snowy peaks and it did feel very mild even on the plateau!

Monday, 15 March 2010


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Even more adventurous training

Another week for me working with Ron's Talisman Adventurous Training Group and much more amenable weather this time!
Our first day was a navigation day in the Lairig Ghru and over Castle Hill then on day two, we walked into Coire an t-Sneachda and up to point 1141 and on to Cairngorm summit. It was a beautiful sunny day with huge views across the snow covered mountains.
Our next three days were spent out on expedition again up the Lairig Ghru to the snowhole site I had used before. This meant that there were already some good snowholes so we renovated them, linked them all up with tunnels and built walls on Thursday then navigated our way up Sron na Lairig in thick cloud on Friday before getting back to the snowholes for our second night. On Saturday we were up early for the walk back out.

Friday, 5 March 2010

East Linton - flat for sale

I have a lovely one bedroom flat for sale in East Linton, a quiet conservation village within easy commuting distance of Edinburgh and with Traprain Law on the doorstep and the coast just a few minutes drive away.

The flat is equipped with all appliances, carpets, wood flooring and curtains so ready to move into. More details here on the selling agents website Click on the website link for more information.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Another fun day at skiing at Cairngorm

Ron and I had a few runs in the ski area to begin with especially enjoying the Ciste Gully area. After a while we found ourselves back at the Ptarmigan Restaurant so after a quick break for lunch we stuck the skins onto the skis and headed up to the summit. From there, we had a great run down the south side of Cairngorm then skins on again to get back up to Windy Col.
Then the fun began with a jump over a little cornice and a descent down the slope underneath the Mess of Pottage. I must admit that I thought we were heading towards the easier slopes but hey...if Ron could do it, I could follow! My descent began ok then I had a bit of a hiccup with a couple of turns which left me a bit covered in snow but after that it was all good! After reaching Ron I wanted to go back up to ski down again without falling into the snow!
The visibility deteriorated too so after a long traverse and a few nice turns we were back in the ski area and to enjoy a couple more runs before heading home. Another great day out on the skis!
See Ron's video of two fantastic days skiing here

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Skiing at Cairngorm

Ron and I had such a good day out skiing at Cairngorm yesterday that we went back for more today! The snow was just incredible and after a few runs working our way up the ski area, we traversed off towards Coire Laogh Mor in search of fresh powder to ski. We poled our way across some huge drifts, a bit like skiing over sand dunes, then flew down into the coire on the perfect, powdery snow. The shuttle bus was running every half hour between the Ciste and the Cas car parks so back up and across to ski another descent of the coire. Ron has the video clips from us both so it will be interesting to see what he does with them.
As the day went on, more lifts were up and running although there still seemed to be a lot of digging going on at the track for the funicular.
Going back for even more skiing tomorow! It is so good to be floating on the snow rather than wading through it.