Monday, 18 June 2018

TMB LES CHAPIEUX TO COURMAYEUR

Descending into Italy 
Coming up from France! 
Plenty of snow 
Alpine Pasque Flower emerging from the snows
Track to Elisabetta Refugio
Border celebrations 
The beautiful Val Venny
Another glorious day on our third day of the TMB from Les Chapieux to Courmayeur. Over the Col de la Seigne into Italy. The Italian side of the col has huge amounts of snow, all the way down to the access track for the Elisabetta Refugio. Great fun in the snow again. The Chang family getting used to Alpine summer snow conditions and walking in the white stuff.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

TMB DAY 2. LES CONTIMENES TO LES CHAPIEUX

Up towards Col de Bonnhomme 

Col de Bonnhomme 

Snow fun

Change in weather on the traverse 
We love snow
Day two on the TMB with the lovely Chang family. More snow fun on the Bonnhomme.  Change from hot sun to cool and cloudy on the traverse to the Col de Croix de Bonnhomme.  Great to see the ibex in the snow. Rain on the last hour into Les Chapieux .

Saturday, 16 June 2018

TMB AND ANOTHER ALPINE GUIDING SEASON

Snow on the approach to the Col de Tricot 
Domes de Miage and the Family
Alpine Pasque Flower

The ascent up to the Col de Tricot

My Alpine guiding  season has started again. Another summer in the Alps guiding groups from all over the world in fantastic locations. This year I have 3 trips working for Mont Blanc Treks again. A brilliant small company based in The Chamonix Valley.  Today was the first day of a Tour du Mont Blanc. This is an 'Highlights' 6 day trek taking in all the finest days. I have a lovely family from Singapore out this week. Today's Route from Les Houches to Les Contimenes.  Lovely clear morning,  cloudy later. Like most early season treks, there is still some big stretches of snow on the trail. Only a wee bit on the approach to Col de Tricot .

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

NAVIGATION COURSE, FESHIE HILLS

Terry with some accurate compass work

80% map reading 

Great conditions for Navigation 
Return client, Terry was out with me today on a one day navigation course.  Terry has already been on a winter course with me and thought it was time he focused on the no.1 hill skill, navigation . Perfect conditions for it. Cloud on the tops, strong wind and some rain thrown in for good measure. We went on the Feshie hills around Carn Ban Mor and Sgor Gaoithe.  All the hills in this area are perfect terrain for Navigation.  Featureless and mostly pathless high up, apart from the Munro summits. By the end of the day Terry had mastered the compass but more importantly good map and ground reading skills which form 80% of navigating in the mountains.  What a change in the weather.  First time in weeks we were wearing waterproofs,  fleeces, hats and gloves!

Monday, 11 June 2018

FEITHE BUIDHE SLABS

Feithe Buidhe Slabs
Another tight squeeze
Scrambling slabs
More of these than humans
Plenty Snow Bunting too
Thick
Cow-wheat
Saxifrages love it here
Here today, gone tomorrow?
Climbing
Great spot for scrambling
Not as much snow as 2013
A slow change in the weather pattern at the moment. Gone is the heat and clear skies of the last 3 weeks or so, replaced with more cloud and cooler temperatures. Today the cloud base was around 500m. A gloomy mountainside this morning but by mid day it lifted above most summits in The Cairngorms. It kept the hills quiet anyway. Saw no one all morning and most of the day. The Feithe Buidhe slabs down towards Loch Avon are a magical place. A wonderful, scenic and impressive area with a sense of wild and remote. In the Spring/Summer of 2013 we had far more large area of snow patches lingering through till about August. That winter saw huge amounts of snow and the winter continued right through till mid May. This left a good depth on the remaining snow. Not this year. The slabs that run down from the plateau to Loch Avon cling onto snow for prolonged periods. The nature of the terrain underneath usually creates quite impressive 'snow tunnels'. Today there was just one and a very tight squeeze it was. Still worth investigating. It's a great spot for scrambling so a fun way back up to the plateau. Plenty of ptarmigan in the area and some wonderful snow buntings singing away throughout the day.
Get ready for a big change on Thursday. Lots of rain and high winds on the tops. So was that summer?

Friday, 8 June 2018

SNOW TUNNEL SEASON

Braeriach & Loch Einaich

Snow tunnels starting to form, Carn Ban Mor

Summit Sgurr Gaoithe
Green plateau
I had a bike ride and wander up onto the Glen Feshie hills today. Main objective was to look for and photograph the Dotterel. No luck all day despite roaming around the well known areas that these lovely ground nesting, migratory birds frequent. Not even any ptarmigan seen. A couple of snow buntings seen in the distant depths of the corries. Good excuse for walking over the many summits and plateaux of these hills. I had a peak down at one of the existing snow patches in Carn Ban Mor's corries. The snow tunnels that form when running burns or melting takes place can be quite dramatic. The Spring/summer of 2013 was a good year for these, due to the vast volume of snow we had that winter. That year they were so huge you could walk in and stand up in a lot of them. Not at the moment, a wet crawl and maybe you could wriggle up the one I went to. It was another hot and sticky day but a tad cooler on the tops than of late. More cloud cover than the last few weeks! Looks like we may just about eek out a couple of more hot and sunny days but a threat of showers are on the way this weekend. It was good while it lasted! A fabulous spell of very hot weather. I can't remember the last time I wore waterproofs!
Carn Ban Mor's snowpatch

Thursday, 7 June 2018

FAMILY WALKING IN THE CAIRNGORMS


Northern Corries walk

From 5 to 75, walking for all ages

Paddling in Coire an Lochain 

Lingering snowfields in the coire

Mother & Son

Too hot for this 

Not a bad Pic-nic spot
A lovely family from the USA out with me today for a taste of walking in The Cairngorms. We had a leisurely wander to Coire an Lochain where we had a pic-nic. Along the way the New York family learnt a little of the environment, geology and wildlife of these mountains. This lovely, easy walk is ideal for anyone and any age. As Brandon, age 5 and Rich at 75 years young proved. Another beautiful weather day. Hot wall to wall sun, hardly any wind and clear skies. Looking like a change in the weather come Saturday as this prolonged high pressure system moves away.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

THE LIVING MOUNTAIN

Carole admiring the Loch Avon Basin
Lairig Ghru
Feithe Buidhe waterfalls
Coire an Lochain
Goat Track
Female ptarmigan
Silence, taking it all in

Sound recording
Boulders, Coire an t-Sneachda
Male ptarmigan
Globe Flower
Bliss
Just in the last few years the Nan Shepherd book 'The Living Mountain' has become critically acclaimed by many outdoor writers and outdoor folk in general.
In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.
Shepherd spent a lifetime in search of the ‘essential nature’ of the Cairngorms; her quest led her to write this classic meditation on the magnificence of mountains, and on our imaginative relationship with the wild world around us. Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than thirty years before it was finally published.

Carole was out with me today in The Cairngorms to do some research into this book and to see, feel and hear these mountains that Nan Shepherd roamed across for much of her life. This research is part of Carole's MA in Art degree at Newcastle University. She couldn't have chosen a more perfect weather day.
We had a great walk around the areas that I personally think are the most scenic, quiet and 'wild' in The Northern Cairngorms. Armed with sound recording devices, GPros and photographic equipment to capture the essence of these wonderful hills. Carole came away at the end of the day with wonderful memories and a small insight into Nan Shepherd's world.