Thursday, 29 November 2012


Fiacaill a Coire an t-Sneachda
Coire an t-Sneachda
At the top
Coire an Lochan-no one here?
Loch Avon basin
Red Gully & Fingrs Ridge
What a stunning day here in The Cairngorms. the cloud soon lifted and we had sunshine most of the day. Sub zero temperatures, hardly a breeze on the tops and a lot of snow down to 500m. I had a great day out on the Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda. This fine ridge is a grade I or II day out under winter conditions, depending on what line you take. A big group was just behind me, just as I was thinking how quiet it was! A lot of climbers hading into the Coire an t-sneachda too. There was beautiful rime ice plastered on the crags and on the west side of the ridge a fair depth of unconsolidated snow. The last couple of windy and snowy days has transformed the hills into true winter conditions. Beautiful sunshine on the plateau as I headed up to Cairn Lochan and then down to my favourite view point above Hells Lum Crag, looking down to the Loch Avon Basin. This section of plateau was fabulously coated in deep snow and great to walk on with the added bonus of no footprints and peace and quiet. A fab winter day out again and it's still only November! I'm over on Ben Nevis this weekend for 3 days work, first of many winter skills courses this season, December looking busy.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


There have been a couple of colder days and cloudy days on the Cairngorm mountains, forecasts are for colder, drier, sunnier weather over the next few days more so in the west. I had a quick rum up to the highest point in The Lairig Ghru today, there wasn't much visibility so not a lot to see! There is fresh snow down to 500m and a few snow showers today in much lighter winds. It was a wee bit chilly for the feet in running shoes today!

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Coire An Lochan
The cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg
Heading down to Loch Etchacan
The summit tor on Beinn Mheadoin
Loch Avon and Shelter Stone Crag

A beautiful moonlight on the descent
A sub zero night promised a clear sunny day by most forecasts but the blue skies were in short supply. Karen and I had another long winter day with a fine circuit of Ben Macdui and over to the remote Munro of Beinn Mheadhoin. With a fresh coating of snow above 850m and frozen ground we set off in clear skies but it wasn't long before cloud rolled in from the south. The strong westerly winds from the two previous days had deposited some wind slab on easterly aspects. Descending from Beinn Mheadoin the cloud did lift mid afternoon and some weak sunshine. The final pull up to Ciste Mhearad on Cairn Gorm was us strolling along with the moon trying to fend off the increasing cloud. A fine jaunt over the Cairn Gorm plateau, shame about the lack of sun!

Friday, 23 November 2012


A much colder day and overnight dusting of snow in The Cairngorms. Some nice sunshine today too so I had a quick bike ride up the lovely Glen Einich. A rising moon on the way home. The Northern Lights possible tonight up in the north.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


It's looking like the much colder weather will be coming along from tomorrow onwards. Several longer term forecasts are suggesting that beginning of December is going to be very cold. All looking promising for the winter season.
I still have just a few of my Tarmachan Mountaineering 2013 Calenders left. 12 beautiful  images from a year of roaming around the hills this year with my camera. Ideal Christmas pressy! Email me for details:

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Quite mild conditions the last couple of days with strong SW's melting away most of the snow, but colder conditions coming along by the weekend. Karen and I had a quick dash up Meall a' Buachaille this afternoon. Despite the strong winds and rain we had a glorious rainbow on the way down.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


After a wet, mild and windy spell mid week it was a welcome change and back to winter conditions this weekend. Karen and I had a trip round The Northern Corries today. It had been below freezing in Aviemore last night and on the hill there was a strong westerly with a windchill but a lovely dry and bright day so all is well. We headed up 'Windy Ridge' and had a cuppa in the Ptarmgan Restaurant. After all the years of wandering and climbing in The Cairngorms it was my first time in the cafe-cum-outdoor gear shop-cum train termanus, nice soup and scone too. The views after luch were fab, especially on Cairn Lochan. We only saw a couple of climbers all day, I would guess the coditions on some of the routes would have been superb today. Back to high winds tomorrow and forecast snow n the tops again but it will be milder in the SW's.

Friday, 16 November 2012


Rain turned to snow at 1000m. Old snow on the east slopes of CMD
The cloud did lift on the descent. Carn Dearg Buttress

Forbes celebrating his Munro

Forbes and I had a very wet day on Carn Mor Dearg today. Forbes was anticipating a nice Autum/Winter ascent of Ben Nevis via the CMD arete but the low cloud coupled with wetness wasn't very inspiring. At least the rain turned to snow above 1000m which indicated that winter was returning to the hills after the recent warm spell. There is still snow on the eastern slopes of CMD but we never had any decent views into the NF of The Ben to see how much snow has survived. Forbes decided he'd rather savour the arete for a better day. We saw not a soul from beginning to end.

Monday, 12 November 2012


Over 'The Sneck' and into The Slochd Mor
The eastern corries of Beinn a' Bhuird
Fresh snow at around 900m today
Square Face & Mitre Ridge in The Garbh Corrie of Shlocd Mor
 There was a small weather window on Sunday, clear and dry and a lowering freezing level so Karen and I decided on a last minute bit of winter backpacking. We fancied getting into some of the remotest areas in The Cairngorms and an area were I had never been before too. Setting off from Invercauld we headed around the eastern side of Beinn a' Bhuird and up to the 'Sneck', the wee col between Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon. The other side of this col is the wild and impressive Slochd Mor which has some of the remotest summer and winter climbing routes you could ever wish for. Mitre Ridge and Square Face are the impressive and completely recognisable rock ridges here. The snow showers from Saturday and old snow pack from last week made the descent into The Slochd Mor a bit wintry but easy to get down without any winter gear, having a big rucksack and a stiff breeze made it exciting though. We got to our camp spot at the River Avon in darkness. There was a beautiful clear and still night but the forecast of the approaching Atlantic weather front today made us get an early start so we were packed up and away before 7am this morning. Sure enough by mid morning the cloud came in from the west and some light rain on a strong wind. We had a great 23km walk 'around Ben Avon' via the beautiful and remote Loch Builg and not far from the summit of Cullardoch at 903m. The whole area along the Glen Avon and back to Invercauld is connected by wonderful 4 wheel drive tracks, good I suppose for easy walking and mountain biking but it does detract from the remoteness feeling. Looks like a return to colder weather by the weekend again.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


The temperatures have returned to 'average for November' the last couple of day and some strong winds today. Karen and I had a walk to 'The Castle' from Dorback Lodge. This isn't a castle as such but a spectacular rock feature in a wonderful deep ravine below the more modest hills in The Cairngorms. We saw no one all day and it's a fine low level walk for a windy day. Looking through the gorge you can get a good view of Ben Avon and sadly a lot of snow as disappeared, but the weekend looks like a return to colder and snowy weather on the hills.

Monday, 5 November 2012


A more cloudier day after the beautiful sunny weather we've had recently. Freezing levels still down to around 800m today. I took a walk into Coire an Lochain and had an interesting walk below the cliffs were there was some impressive ice forming on the buttresses above. A long ledge took me back to the plateau just as the snow showers began. Returning along the tops of the cliffs there were a few teams out climbing, though it wasn't a day for photos. Looks like a spell of warmer weather next few days but the weekend is set to be cold again.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


The view from the bottom of Point Five Gully

Even the ptarmigan were sheltering from the winds at times today
Fluted Butress busy
Windy Col
The sun coming out on Cairn Gorm

Another sub zero temperature on the tops and fresh snow lying to the carpak at Coire Cas this morning. There was a bit more wind than forecasted today making it feel more like a Cairngorm  winter day out. I had a wander into Coire An t-Sneachda to have a look at an easy grade 1 route, it was quite busy with many folk out climbing and enjoying the fantastic early winter conditions. I headed away from the crowds and had a look at Point Five Gully which lies between The Goat Track and The Fiacaill Buttress. There was nearly 1 metre of unconsolidated snow at the bottom of the gully and after doing a quick hasty pit found at least two layers of wind slab that broke away easily. Maybe another day then. The morning was quite cloudy and it wasn't till after 1pm that the cloud shifted and some lovely blue skies and sun breaking through. I finished the day on Cairn Gorm to enjoy the sunshine and excellent snow conditions. There was a couple of ski tourers heading up to the summit. Looks like another cold night and more sun tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Loch Coire an Lochain
Looking across to Cairn Toul and the Lairig Ghru
Nicely rimed crags and cornices forming. Ben Macdui in the backgrouns
Top of Sgor an Lochain Uaine looking across to Garbh Coire
Garbh Coire Mor
Cairn Gorm, Ben Macdui from Sgor an Lochain Uaine
It was one of those special perfect winter days today. A day of blue skies above a slight temperature inversion, light breeze and an amazing cover of wonderful snow/rime/neve above 800m. It could have been any day in mid winter. I took the opportunity of the weather and snow conditions for one of the finest high level walks in Britain. The Breariach to Cairn Toul traverse is a stupendous, wild and remote walk you could possibly ask for and in winter conditions, well...... I would normally cycle up Glen Einich but the roads outside the house were looking a bit icy first thing this morning so I ended up walking up the glen. I've been on these hills many a time but I had never ascended the plateau via the remote and seldom visited ridge to the East of Loch Coire an Lochain. What a beautiful situation this is, over 950m and sitting in a northerly location looking across to Strath Spey. There are two wee ridges and the one that sits between the lochan and Coire Ruadh gives lovely views. I was greeted to wonderful cloud formations, sunshine and spectacular views from Braeriach. There then lies the fab walk around the Braeriach-Cairn Toul ampithetre which encloses Garbh Coire as well as many other wild and remote winter climbing crags and gullies. They were all looking fantastic today after the last few days of snow and cold and with cornices forming already. I descended down to Loch Einich just as the sun was setting and down at the loch before torchlight. The walk back down the glen with a rising moon just a wonderful end to a great winters day. Is this really only the 1st November?