Wednesday, 22 November 2017

THAW, FREEZE & FRESH SNOWFALL

Ice after the rains
Fresh snowfall by mid morning
Ice, Coire an Lochain

Good fun and great for axe and crampons today

More
Old snow with depth in places
Crampons needed too
Brilliant conditions here
Alladins Couloir, fresh snow
Fresh snow quickly building
Flock of at least 20 Snow Buntings
Much of the Highlands received over 24 hours of heavy rain at all levels yesterday. After a rapid thaw on Tuesday it was good to see ice still hanging on in the Northern Corries this morning. The temperatures had lowered again with summits around minus 2 C. I took a wander into Coire an Lochain. By mid morning it started snowing steadily to quite low altitudes. Not a breath of wind. Whatever was left of the old snow had frozen nicely and it was great fun with axe and crampons climbing out of the corrie and onto the plateau. There are some nice steep sections to the west of the main climbing area in the coire. A great spot I regularly guide folk on my winter courses. It was great to front point and feel the calf muscles working again for the start of another winter season. By mid day there was a covering of a few cm's of fresh snow on the plateau along with poor visibility. Didn't see a single person on the hills today. Forecast for a substantial fall of snow over the next 24 hours, along with strong winds.

Monday, 20 November 2017

FRESH SNOW, INVERSIONS, WARMING UP

Fresh snow in Coire an t-Sneachda
Fiacaill Coire Sneachda
Snow and blue skies
Ice hanging on, Fiacaill Buttress
Windless along the Fiacaill
After the early rain and snow
Lots of Inversions at different levels today
More cloud and snow
The weather fronts are passing through quickly at the moment. Hour by hour almost! The cold air mass from the last couple of days was being pushed away from the warm SW airflow today. There had been a fair few cm's of fresh snow overnight and early hours this morning. There was some snow at Aviemore level first thing but this quickly turned to rain. I grabbed the small weather window today for a romp over the Fiacaill Ridge. A liesurley 11am start and perfectly timed as the cloud lifted and we were treated to some fantastic cloud inversions. Down in Strathspey there was a blanket of cloud for much of the day. Up above 600m the air was clear and we even got an hour or so of blue skies at mid day. I headed up into Coire an t-Sneachda and gained the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda ridge uderneath the Fiacaill Buttress. This is a fab, scenic route to get onto the ridge. I saw just one other person soloing The Runnell in the coire. Up on the ridge it was deserted. Lots of ice around despite the warming temperatures. Some wonderful frozen turf for the axe. Hardly a breath of wind on the tops. The plateau has a good covering of damp snow and the temperature seemed to rise through the day. More layers of atmospheric cloud by the time I got back down. Great day! Shame it's going to rain at all levels tomorrow but back to colder conditions toward the end of the week. Looking good!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

SWIMMING, WALKING, CLIMBING-CAIRNGORMS

Karen swimming in Loch Coire an Lochain
Plenty of climbing in the coire today
Good, firm snow cover  at the Twin Burns

Rimed rocks
Cairngorm Plateau
Cliffs of Coire an Lochain
Looking down from Cairn Lochan
Braeriach from Cairn Lochan
A fine day to be out
It always pays dividends to get updates on weather conditions just before setting out. On Friday evening many weather forecasts for the Cairngorms area was for constant snow showers and high winds. A quick check on Saturday morning and the updated weather was for a calmer day with mostly dry conditions. What we got was a terrific day of wall to wall sun with only 30-40mph winds. Karen and I headed to Coire an Lochain for a chance of a swim before the loch freezes over for the season. With an air temperature below freezing and a 20mph windchill I would say it was a tad cool! In the afternoon we headed up onto the plateau for some physcilogical sun warming (after Karen donning several warm layers couped inside the group shelter with hot Ribena)! The Twin Burns area was quite iced up and good, firm snow on our way to the tops. It was glorious in the sunshine and plenty of icy, rimed ground. You could get a way without crampons in most places on easy ground. Plenty of climbing action in the coire with at least 8 parties on various routes. We had a wander across the plateau with fine views and some spindrift making for a wonderful winters day. Coire an t-Sneachda looked a bit bare for climbing and much quieter here, in fact I saw no climbers. The snow cover is limited and patchy on the plateau. Some areas have snow in depth whilst others are quite bare. A great day to be out weather you're into walking, climbing, running or even swimming (didn't see any other swimmers)!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

SUNSET & FRESH SNOW

Sunset over Loch Morlich
Fresh snow, Northern Cairngorms
A dusting of snow on Meall a' Bhuachaille
Meall a; Bhuachaille's shadow over Abernethy Forest
Bynack Mor, Cairn Gorm and Sneachda
Strathspey from the top
Another one!
One of the most wonderful aspects of living in the Highlands is the ease of leaving the house and being at the top of a hill in just a couple of hours. From Aviemore I can cycle off road virtually from my doorstep, along lovely forest trails and then a quick walk up to the summit of a Corbett. Today I left at 1pm from the house and was on the top of Meall' a Bhuachaille to watch a wonderful sunset over Loch Morlich and a grand stand view of The Northern Cairngorms. I even got to see an Golden Eagle on the way up the hill. There has been another sprinkling of snow over the mountains. There was a dusting on the last 100m of Meall a' Bhuachaille today. Whilst waiting for the sun to set the temperatures dropped like a rock and there was a biting, cold wind. Fabulous.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

WHAT'S LEFT OF THE SNOW

Coire an Lochain
Female ptarmigan
Some ice left

The Couloir, Coire an Lochain
Ptarmigan looking for the snow
In less than 24 hours the drifts and low level snow on Braeriach had been completely stripped in the warmer temperatures of Tuesday. Today I took a wander up into the Northern Corries to see what was left of the snow. Not a lot. At least the temperatures have come down again and it was below freezing overnight. There is some ice on some of the crags. Any remnants of snow is actually firm and crunchy. A good, cold base for the snow that is coming our way again tomorrow and Friday. Don't forget it is only mid November so plenty of time for proper winter to return. The ptarmigan were making me work hard for photographs today. Now they are almost in their winter plumage they were obviously settling into any snow that is left. A pleasant day to be out. Dry and only a light breeze up high.

Monday, 13 November 2017

WINTER DAY ON BRAERIACH

Andrew enjoying winter on Braeriach
Biking in the snow
Wind and snow
The joys of winter walking
Braeriach summit success!
Cornices and rime on Braeriach's gullies
Lairig Ghru
Lurchers Crag
For the first time this season we had snow down to Aviemore level and sub zero temperatures outside the house. Well timed for return client Andrew and his winter day out on Braeriach! Andrew has been out with me several times and we've had some great days and big days out. For today's outing he talked his brother, William, into having a taste of winter Munro walking too. This was William's first time out in winter.If you're going to start winter walking then what finer place to start than on Braeriach. The third highest summit in the UK and one of the remotest Munros. Throw in some wild winter weather and you have the makings of a grand day out hillwalking! We biked in to the Lairig Ghru from the house this morning. Just has we saddled up the snow started falling in the streets of Aviemore. It continued snowing steadily for much of the day. It was relatively calm and good visibility in the lower reaches of the Lairig Ghru. Once we got higher up on the long, featureless Sron na Lairig ridge the weather closed in and the visibility disappeared. The map and compass came out and shotly after the ski goggles were on. It was gusting above 50mph above 1000m and some drifting snow made some tough walking conditions. The guys did a brilliant job and we reached the summit 5 hours after leaving Aviemore. Winter walking isn't all about ice axes and crampons. Today's skills were perseverance, stamina, good clothing, good navigation and good humour! Winter is here!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

NORTHERN CORRIES, COLDER, SNOWIER

Gullies filling up, Coire an Lochain
Coire an Lochain
Sub zero temperatures again
Rime ice
Fun way out of the corrie
Skies cleared late afternoon
The temperatures have remained well below freezing on the summits the last few days. Yesterday we had some more snow falling to lower levels. A wander around the Northern Corries today. Fun way out of Cooire an Lochain via the crags over on the West side where there was some ice but not in quantity. The tops were shrouded in cloud by mid day. High windchill and lots of rime ice over the rocks. First major snowfall over in The Cairngorms forecasted tonight and most of tomorrow so things shaping up nicely.