Saturday, 27 April 2013


After yesterdays big effort on Macdui in full winter conditions the guys were all up for another big day in The Cairngorms and when  mentioned how wonderful Braeriach is they were soon fired up. We had glorious sunny spells from the word go. There had been fresh snowfall overnight right down to the Sugar Bowl car park and so it was beautiful snow underfoot. The hill was once again very quiet, apart from big groups coming through the Lairig Ghru. Th guys loved the whole day and this was their biggest hill day in Scotland, so far...... ! There is still full cover of snow on the plateau's and ridges, and the temperatures are not getting much higher into next week so looks like May will be winter on the top too!

Friday, 26 April 2013


Patrick and friends booked last minute for two days of Munro bagging in The Cairngorms. They were expecting Spring like weather and conditions but they had the sense to keep checking weather and snow conditions beforehand and of course it is still winter on the hills. Today we headed up to Ben Macdui and right from the word go had a full on winter adventure. There was constant snow showers and a brisk northerly wind. Poor visibility and the plateau as more neve and ice than I've seen all winter! It was map and compass work for much of the day, we saw not a soul and just the odd ptarmigan for company. We return via the northern corries and down to a deserted Coire Cas ski area. A great day out and it felt more like a January day in the hills!

Thursday, 25 April 2013


It's remained relatively cold for some time now and due to get even colder next couple of days, at least. We have snow showers forecast down to 600m tomorrow. I have had some late winter work for the weekend. Will Tarmachan Mountaineering be doing ice axe arrests in May? Watch this space :)
Meanwhile on the same winter theme I have just received a nice wee message from Jen & Harry-brother and sister team who came out with me on a snow hole trip back in March. Here is Jen's excellent  take on what is involved in spending a night out in the white stuff:

I don't think I'll be taking any more snow hole trips on this winter, but then again............

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


This snowdrift was banked out right across the track last week, recently been ploughed
The northern corries of Braeriach
Loch Einich & Sgorr Gaoithe
The wonderful stalkers path that heads up to Braeriach's plateau is still well banked out with snow
Just as the forecast suggested it was a lovely sunny afternoon in The Cairngorms. I had a good blast up the lovely Glen Einich below Braeriach. The strong winds had eased off. Looks like another cold blast of weather for the coming weekend and fresh snowfall over the tops.  There is still plenty of snow in the corries and on many slopes above about 800m and will be for some time to come.

Saturday, 20 April 2013


Starting up Alladin's Couloir
Climbers heading up to Patey's Route, Alladin's Mirror to the right
Plenty of snow being blown down by the Fiacaill Buttress
The Goat Track still well banked with snow
Not much sunshine today, despite an early start for blue skies and to beat the winds forecasted later in the day. It did brighten up by mid day but the winds were quite strong and a lot of snow being blown down into Coire an t-Sneachda. I was planning to head over into Loch Avon and climb Castlegates Gully but the winds around Alladin's Couloir didn't inspire me to continue any further! Looks like staying cool and even more snow forecast into next week.

Friday, 19 April 2013


Coire an Lochain - The Couloir on the left & No. 4 Buttress to the right
Coire an Lochain
Cairn Toul & Sgorr n Lochain Uaine
Sgorr an Lochain Uaine & Breariach
Full cover of snow looking across to Ben Macdui & Cairn Toul
A stunningly beautiful day in The Cairngorms. Just when everyone thought this week was going to be a major thaw, it actually snowed overnight. The Cairngorm plateau has full cover, the corries and gullies are full and the sun was out. Oh yes, light winds all added up to another wonderful 'winter's day'!

Monday, 15 April 2013


Sgurr an Lochain Uaine and Ben Macdui

Garbh Coire Mor
Ben Macdui from summit of Sgurr an Lochain Uaine (Angels Peak)
Looking west from summit of Cairn Toul
Angels Ridge
With a small weather window before more wind and showers and cloud I headed up Glen Einaich today and in pursuit of possibly my final 'winter' traverse of Braeriach to Cairn Toul. This is the finest high level mountain walk in the UK and even more so in winter conditions. The high winds this morning were due to ease so with the bike in to Loch Einich this killed some time to let the gales die. The cloud soon broke up by mid morning and the forecasts were spot on, mid morning and there was a definite easing in the SW  winds. So a 'Cairn Gorm breeze' of about 40mph was just tolerable. There was some rime ice on the exposed rocks but in general the snow was pretty soft making it hard going but as always an absolute joy on this high level roller coaster. Still a good covering of snow and Cairn Toul was easy, rather than the summer conditions of boulders to negotiate. I saw no one all day, only a couple of stags jumping across the Einich track in front of the bike! So with warmer and wetter conditions maybe this will be the last full 'winter travesre' for me, this season.

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Walking in the river bed, Braeriach behind
Lurchers Crag
Mountain hare just starting to get into Spring colours
It was another sub zero night and clear. frosty morning in The Cairngorms. A temperature inversion first thing this morning but by mid morning the southerlies were bringing cloud to the higher summits and a freshening/strong wind on the tops. Karen and I were thinking of walking the Lairig Ghru right through to Linn of Dee but that comes with problems-getting back home! No public transport and a high taxi fare back round decided the day! With fantastic snow all the way through the lairig it was just as spectacular to get up to the high point at the Pools of Dee. I think by the end of tomorrow there will be running water where we were walking on today! So maybe the last cold and low snow cover day in The Highlands? With double digit temperatures tomorrow and next few day a lot of snow will be heading into The Dee and Spey!

Thursday, 11 April 2013


The Lairig Ghru well filled with snow
Ice hanging on at Lurcher's Crag
Not much in the way of views today, a near white out shortly after this
Deep snow in the burn bed
The plan for today was to head up to Coire Brochain, one of the spectacular coire's on Braeriach's Eastern face. By the time I'd got up to the Pools of Dee at the top of The Lairig Ghru the clag had set in and near white out. For such a wonderful place I decided to leave it for a sparkling clear day! Amazingly the whole of the burn bed in the Lairig has a complete cover of snow of around 1-2 metres in depth. It was an absolute joy to plod up this, most of the snow being hard and crunchy. It felt much warmer today with the moderate Southerly wind, Looks set for the big melt down on Sunday with double digit temperatures and rain/strong winds. So the start to the end of winter?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Beinn Mheadhoin  & Carn Etchacan, Shelter Stone Crag
A quiet Coire an t-sneachda
No one on The Vent for a while!
The Coire an Lochain cliffs
Coire an Lochain in afternoon sun
Fresh windslab
A bitterly cold SE blowing across the Cairngorms today making it feel more like a mid winters day. There was a fair bit of drifting snow, even at lower altitudes. The morning started off cloudy with just the odd break in the clouds, by mid day there were big breaks in the clouds and some fine sunshine once more. Plan was to go up the big Grade 1 gully to the right of Carn Etchacan  but the last couple of days of snow showers and strong winds as produced a fair bit of new wind slab, even at lower altitudes, always another day. I dropped down into the Loch Avon basin were there was some shelter from the wind, as well as great scenery. On the way home I enjoyed the sun on my face making it feel a tad warmer and less frost nip on my nose! Saw only one other soul on the hill today, so quiet.  No sign of Spring on the mountains yet! :)

Monday, 8 April 2013


A very pleasant day afternoon on Sgorr Gaoithe. There were a few snow showers down to Aviemore level first thing this morning but by mid morning there was some blue skies. A nice bike ride up Glen Feshie and no one on the hill today. A cold, moderate wind making it feel very much like winter still.

Saturday, 6 April 2013


The Shelter Stone Crag
The Shelter Stone & Pinnacle Gully
Top of Castle Gates Gully & Carn Etchacan
Nearing the top of Pinnacle Gully with the obvious Forefinger Pinnacle
Loch Avon basin and Shelter Stone to the right
Looking down, mine the only prints :)
Looking east from the gully
I was pleased I made my own weather forecast today by looking out the window and going by what has happened in the last few days- blue, blue skies! I wandered over toward the Loch Avon basin and fancied climbing Pinnacle Gully which lies to the side of the marvellous Shelter Stone Crag, what a wonderful position. The route down from the plateau to Loch Avon is amazing, normally this time of year there would be running water from the Feithe Buidhe & Uisge Beag but at the moment it is just heavy snow cover. When I got to the foot of the gully I was so pleased as completely untrodden. The snow was wonderful and a great, if awkward finish on some ice and rocks ( I took the right hand branch from the Pinnacle). A couple of skiers went down just as I was topping out, the only folk I saw since leaving the Cas area. A stunningly beautiful day, no winds and another glowing face!