Friday, 22 October 2021

WINTER BEGINS

 

Fiacaill Coire Sneachda 
We've enjoyed the odd dusting of snow over the last few weeks, quite normal in October. On Wednesday it definitely got a bit more spicy with much colder temperatures and snow falling to quite low levels. I waited for the winds to abate on Thursday before heading out on Friday to see what the conditions were like.

Coire an t-sneachda 

Fiacaill Buttress 

Rime and snow on the ridge




















Monday, 18 October 2021

BOOK REVIEW - THE MOUNTAIN PATH BY PAUL PRITCHARD



PAUL PRITCHARD – THE MOUNTAIN PATH

 

The Mountain Path is Paul Pritchard’s fourth publication. A very different read from his previous books, Deep Play, The Totem Pole and The Longest Climb. This is the continuing story on his long recovery from a near fatal accident whilst climbing The Totem Pole over 20 years ago. Paul was left with severe injuries after a rock fall hit him whilst climbing this sea stack in Tasmania. His injuries left him hemiplegic, paralysis down the right side of his body. This new title deals with his spiritual and psychological road to recovery.

Reading the various endorsements on the back cover of the book there are some very famous names from the climbing community. Praise indeed to Paul’s achievements and his amazing determination, mindset and to get back to his mountain exploits.

Th Mountain Path is not full of hardcore rock climbing and mountaineering stories. Pritchard delves into his psychology, meditation and spirituality to overcome his physical limitations. His positive outlook and determination beams through, despite his disabilities. One of his many adventures he describes is his cycle expedition across Tibet on a specially adapted recumbent tri-cycle. During rest days on this gruelling bike ride he becomes more and more involved in the Buddhism philosophy on life. Throughout the book Pritchard takes us back to some key moments in his life to give the reader some excellent background reading if you haven’t already read his previous three books. He dips into his bold climbing achievements and lifestyle prior to his accident. This gives the reader some context of his many climbing accolades and how driven a person he was and indeed still his. It is clear that his disabilities were never going to stop his drive and determination for climbing and other extraordinary achievements.

From his writing and references it is obvious he’s undertaken a vast amount of research in many spheres of psychology, spirituality, meditation and religious study. He draws upon these to fulfil his adventures and determination to lead a normal life and deal with his hemiplegia.

A thought provoking read.

If you haven’t read Paul Pritchard’s other award-winning books then you may well after this latest work. Another excellent book.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

A DUSTING OF SNOW AND COLD TEMPERATURES

 

Frozen grasses at 1000m
This time of year it only requires a shift in the air mass direction for the high mountains to get some snow and sub zero temperatures. Overnight Thursday and into Friday we went from a balmy plus 5 degrees C  to minus 4 C on the tops of the high Cairngorms. A NW airflow from the Arctic the culprit, thank you! Clear, cold air yesterday and some wonderful sunshine in the middle of the day was a wonderful reminder on the skin that winter is not far away. Sadly it will go warmer tomorrow so short lived but the end of next week looks like it will get colder again. 

On Saturday I headed over to Ben Macdui. Lovely clear views and several layers on whilst photographing the spectacular view from near the summit,  the finest view of the Cairn Toul - Braeriach plateau. It looks very unlikely that the Sphix snow patch in Braeriachs Garbh Choire Mor will survive this year.
Fresh snow above 1000m

The wonderful panorama from (near) the summit of Ben Macdui

It's been breezy & cold

It clouded over by mid afternoon and slightly milder summit temperatures. Very quiet on the hills, if you stay away from the main paths. The finest views are nearly always away from main drags up to the two Munros of Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui. Get an OS map and look what's on offer! :)

Deep freeze bilberries

Wonders of nature

Even more beauty, just look close and stop going for your PB up a Munro :)

Rime ice

High and wild

Old snow/new snow - The Sphinx, the last remaining snow patch in the Cairngorms


On Sunday I headed up towards Cairn Gorm, avoiding paths as much as possible. I was on the search for Ptarmigan.

More ice wonders

Looking across to Beinn Meadhoin

Another cold, sub zero temperatures above about 1100m. The sun finally came through by early afternoon. I heard that wonderful croaking sound in the still, cold air. Right behind me a fine pair of Ptarmigan amongst the rimed grasses making a great backdrop for photographing these amazing birds. They are just starting to transform into their winter plumage

Ptarmigan amongst the rime ice

Winter not far away

Looking forward to winter now. The finest time of year! My winter bookings have been slowly filling up, especially weekends so don't leave it too late. It is looking like folk are very keen to get back into the winter mountains after last years restrictions on travel. All details of my courses on my website.




Friday, 15 October 2021

TORRIDON TREK

 

Slioch from Glen Grudie
Last week I was guiding two return clients, Sue and Bridget, on my 'Torridon Trek'. This 8 day luxury walking holiday travels through and up onto the most stunning landscape we have in the British Isles. Completely unique and not offered by any other walking holiday company. I devised the route a couple of years ago, my last group loved it so much I decided to run it again this year. The route runs from Achnashellach and finishes at Dundonnell with an ascent of An Teallach, the finest mountain in the world.some photography.

Day 1, 2nd October

Inverness - train to Achnashellach, walk to Torridon



Day 2, 3rd October 

Beinn Damph



Day 3, 4th October 

Coire Dubh Mor - Bridge of Grudie






Day 4, 5 October 

Slioch





Day 5, 6 October 

An Teallach 






Day 6, 7 October 

Loch Toll an Lochain 






Day 7, 8 October 

Sail Mhor