Monday, 12 November 2018

MONADHLIATH, WET

Carn Dearg, final Munro

Best view of the day 

Carn Sgulaird 

We could have done with this later on!

3 Munros in the bag

Lovely start 

Loch

Final climb

Dry and clear

Final descent
Andrew has now been out with me for 5 hill days over the last few years. Unfortunately weather hasn't always been on his side when he books a day out with me. Today was no different. He was hoping for some winter conditions but sadly were still in a warm period. Well warm and wet today. Andrew was up with his friend, Joe, who has never walked on the Scottish mountains. This morning we set off from an empty carpark at Glen Banchor to 'bag' the three Munros in the Monadhliath.  These are great hills for Navigation and Joe fancied learning some map and compass skills enroute around the Munro summits of A' Chailleach, Carn Sgulain and Carn Dearg. After about 30 minutes of walking a light rain fell and didn't stop all day bar a few brief moments. Views were limited but the craic was great and kept us all amazed on the long stretch of high ground between the second and third Munros. It's a long descent and walk from the final top of Carn Dearg . At least here we had some nice views before the bog fest on the way back to the car. The final hour was through paddy fields in the dark. A long, wet day but great fun and Joe says he'll be back after his initiation ceremony.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

OTHER SIDE OF THE CAIRNGORMS

Atmospheric cloud on Carn an Tuirc

Best of the blue skies

Carn an Tuirc & Cairn of Claise

Map & compass out a bit today 

Silhoulettes a plenty 

Sunday mists

Sun on Loch Calleter

Post swim reflections

before the rains

Accommodation 
Mountain Hare

….and another

Watching, waiting for snow
A weekend away on 'the other side o' the Cairngorms '. The mountains to the South of Braemar offer a multitude of days out 'bagging' Munros.  On Saturday we had a romp over the four mountains of Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise, Glas Maol & Creag Leacach. These hills are round and easy angled with nice walking underfoot so not too long a day out. There was no snow on the mountains here. We hardly saw anyone all day. There were more Mountain Hare than humans. Temperatures on the summits were just above freezing and a stiff breeze, not winter like really. The cloud came and went through the day. By afternoon we were in clag and some good navigation from Karen saw us off the hill at mid afternoon with 4 new Munros in the bag for her.
On Sunday the weather forecast wasn't great in the afternoon so we had a wander to Loch Calleter and a dip in the water.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

WINTER IS BACK

Fresh snow 

Ptarmigan 

Fiacaill Buttress

Last weeks refrozen snow

Good day for ptarmigan

Cairn Gorm

Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda

Almost full winter plumage

Coire an t-Sneachda

Good day for ptarmigan photography

Top of Alladin's Couloir
After a few days of warm weather it was back to wintry conditions again today. The temperatures overnight had dropped and there is fresh snow above 800m. This morning there was snow showers down to lower levels but these with brief. By mid day most of the showers had ceased and it was a pleasant day to be out. Those remarkable birds of the high Scottish mountains, the ptarmigan, are just going into their winter plumage. A good day for photographing them. I spent over 20 minutes with a group of about 15 high up in the corrie. Only other folk I saw today was a large group heading up the Goat Track. The remnants of last weeks snow has gone through a melt/freeze cycle and is solid. Unfortunately there isn't much left of this. Just a few patches in corrie rims and tops of gullies.  A stiff breeze on the tops today. Windier and a lot more snow forecast tomorrow, above 900m. Staying cold through the weekend on the higher tops so winter returns.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

GLOOMY IN THE NORTHERN CORRIES

Mountain Hare in transition
A gloomy Coire an t-Sneachda 

Best of the views this morning 

Quiet 

Loch Morlich only just visible

The only ice I saw today 
It wasn't the best of weather conditions for wildlife photography today. Very low cloud and strong winds in the Northern Corries. We've had a few days of warm weather since the weekend and this, of course, has stripped all the snow. What a contrast from just 4 days ago when we had stunning winter conditions and blue skies!
Despite the 'sumner' conditions the wildlife is getting into winter mode. Some lovely moments with the Mountain Hare's which are just transforming into their white winter coat. A big flock of Fieldfare were in Coire an t-Sneachda.  Very quiet day with not many folk about.  Snow forecast by the end of the week.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

Difficult walking at 600m

One of the calmer moments

battling against the gales

Into the calm of the trees
We've enjoyed 7 days of fine wintry conditions with some beautiful sunshine this last week in the Highlands. All that came to an abrupt end today. A sharp rise in temperatures has the Atlantic weather front brought warm air to our shores. Along with the mild temperatures came the gales.  With a forecast of 70+mph winds on the high tops we decided to stay at lower altitudes this morning .
Euan was out on his second day of his 2 day winter course. Navigation was the order of the day. The most important hill skill, summer and winter. We worked on the ground above Lochan na Binne.  The hills here are featureless and pathless so perfect for map reading skills. Even at 600m we were being hit with 60-70mph constant winds. Coping with walking in a straight line in these conditions is bad enough. Having to read a map and take compass bearings add to the fun! A massive rainbow seemed to be with us for most of the day, beautiful. In the afternoon we decided to do some navigation and orientation lower down in the Rothiemurchus forest. A wonderful respite from the gales. Some under-used trails make for good navigation on our route back up to the Ciste carpark.
A top two days out and a huge contrast in weather for Euan. Colder conditions by the end of next week. Winter will be back soon.

Friday, 2 November 2018

FIRST WINTER COURSE THIS SEASON

No words needed

Spot the climbers

High up on the Fiacaill

Euan loving it

Coire an Lochain

Excellent snow cover
Fiacaill Coire Sneachda

Good here

The place to ourselves

Good ice for cramponing

The top!

Rimey Ridge

Coire an t-Sneachda
First winter course of the 2018/19 season started today. When Euan booked his two day course with me, little did he know what wonderful snow conditions we were in for. The snow in the Cairngorms has been around for a week now and snow cover has been improving almost on a daily basis. With constant below freezing temperatures there is also ice forming. We took advantage of this on the Flat Iron in Coire an t-Sneachda. A brilliant place for cramponing techniques and not too intimidating. After we had gone through the basics of axe and crampon skills in the morning we then moved on up to the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda. Into the sun and a wonderful traverse of the ridge. Euan learning fast and enjoying the winter wonderland with only light winds and bags of glorious sunshine. The snow is still unconsolidated and hard work breaking trough the crust, but well worth the effort! Big change tomorrow. Warmer, windy and wetter.