Saturday, 30 November 2013


The strong, cold NW winds, coupled with some snow showers yesterday had left the Cairngorms lovely and wintry again. Karen and I had a late morning outing up Cairn Gorm, a lot of rime ice above 900m and all the old snow from the previous week was nicely frozen. The skies gave lots of beautiful cloud formations today. Lots of folk out enjoying climbing, skiing and a winter skills group having fun with ice axe arresting. Looks like a similar day tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Looking over to Braeriach  from near the summit
Lovely cloud inversion to the south west
Braeriach & Loch Einich
Hard snow in the eastern corries
After a couple of quite mild days it was great to see the sea level temperatures back down to single digits today. I set off on the bike up a very quiet Glen Feshie with overcast skies but thin high cloud so looking hopeful. Sgor Gaoith is a fab hill and although it rises to over 1000m it never feels like a big day out. The cloud was starting to thin and break slightly 20 minutes from the summit and it just got better and better, a big hole of blue sky over the hill and not a breath of wind. Superb views over to the main Cairngorm mountains and the best view of Breariach and |Loch Einich. There is still plenty of snow in the corries and it was frozen well today. Out to the west was a bank of cloud and this started drifting in and creating beautiful layers of thin cloud creeping across the plateau on the way down. I don't think anyone will be on this summit tomorrow, with severe gales forecast on a NW wind bringing snow showers to many parts of The Highlands. Hill of the winds indeed!

Monday, 25 November 2013


I was down south visiting family over the weekend and looks like I missed out on some beautiful weather and winter conditions. This morning it was minus 7 degrees C as I headed to Glenmore Lodge and day one of my First Aid course run by BASP. It was a bit chilly lying on the snow during our mock casualty exercises in the grounds of The Lodge. BASP are one of the best providers of 1st Aid Courses, all relevant stuff geared toward outdoor sports and highly recommended.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


A well rimed Cairn Gorm
Coire Cas
Beinn a' Bhuird & Ben Avon
Coire an t-sneachda
The first snow at Aviemore level this season, always a sign that it is definitely winter. There were some good breaks in the cloud this morning, but despite the lighter winds it was a biting wind on top of Cairn Gorm. Plenty of rime ice and a good few cm's of fresh snow high up. The ski area in Coire Cas was being prepared for he start of the season, possibly this weekend? If the forecast of  more snow over the next couple of days happens it should be good.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Hells Lum Crag
Step cutting to get over to Carn Etchacan
Loch Avon & Shelter Stone Crag
Cairn Gorm & Stag Rocks
After an unsettled week with high winds on the tops, today was sunny and clear. A frost overnight had frozen all the remaining snow solid on The Cairngorm-Macdui plateau today, shame that a lot of this had disappeared during last week. There are still big areas of snow on East facing slopes and corries.  The forecasts for the coming week are still predicting snow, coupled with high winds again. Fist time this season had to do some step cutting, an important winter skill to keep practising. I have only one weekend free for January & February, looks like a busy winter coming up for me.

Monday, 11 November 2013


There has been a lot of snow melt off the Cairngorm plateau in just 24 hours. The milder westerlies overnight coupled with rain stripped quite a lot of snow but it was still a very much wintry scene again today. It was hard going in the soft, damp snow and strong winds, a contrast from hot and sunny Tenerife hills last week. Didn't see anyone on the hill today although I did find a debit card sticking out of the snow on the plateau! If it's yours please drop me a line and I'll forward it on.

Sunday, 10 November 2013


The fab route up Montana de Guajara (2718m) Tenerife's 3rd highest peak
A bit exposed in places
Looking over to El Teide from Montana de Guajara .
It's only a walk!
Sunset on Montana de Guajara.

 Mention Tenerife and for most folk they would probably have an image of  crowded beaches packed with sun worshipers lined with hotels and bars. Head inland form the costas and there lies a landscape of  raw volcanic beauty with many wonderful walking areas including El Teide, Spains highest summit at 3715m. We had a weeks trip and started off with a nice ramble through the forested foothills above Vilaflor before heading up above the tree line and into the Teide National Park We kicked off with the third highest peak on the island, Montana de Guajara (2718m). The best ascent is via the north side from The Parador were we were based for a couple of days. From this side it looks a bit formidable with tiers of huge, steep rock walls but once on the hill a good path weaves its way up to wide ledges with superb views over to El Tiede.


The weather was set fine for the whole week, even at higher altitudes it was T-shirt temperatures. So the obvious next objectives were the 2nd and highest peaks on Tenerife. Pico Viejo (3135m) lies just to the west of El Teide and the two mountains can be easily combined in a long day with only a 100m or so drop between the two peaks. The paths on the mountains are reasonable underfoot considering the volcanic terrain, there are some signposts but you need to keep your eyes open as the trails do become a bit vague in places. We saw hardly anyone up to Pico Viejo, for us this summit was much better than Teide, the highest point is on the eastern rim of the huge crater rim with fine views. There are some big boulders to negotiate between the hills but it's only two hours from peak to peak.Well, having said that we unfortunately had left it too late to organise a summit permit so we couldn't get to the actual summit of Teide, only 180m below. The park authority limit the people to 200 per day as the summit area is so fragile. Maybe if the gondola that can whisk you up to over 3500m didn't exist then it wouldn't be a problem? Anyway we weren't that bothered, the day was fantastic and another wonderful sunset.


Right outside The Parador Hotel are some amazing rock spires and buttresses, very touristy but if you get off the manicured path that skirts round them and start scrambling amongst the many weird and wonderful rock features there are some great opportunities for stunning photos. A nice way to end our time in the El Teide area. We then headed to the NW of the island and our last wee jaunt.


 Our last walking day and we headed to one of the best gorge walks on the island, The Barranco de Masca. The lovely wee village of Masca at 612m is the start point and the gorge runs all the way down to sea level. The ever changing rock scenery is immense, towering vertical cliffs and pinnacles mixed with exotic vegetation and bird life. It takes only 2-3 hours down depending on how long you want to admire and take photos. Most folk seemed to be meeting boats down at the coast but it's such an amazing walk we went back up! A nice cold beer at the many bars and restaurants in Masca. Fab.

So I think the summer wear will definitely need to be packed away. Back home and cold, snowy conditions across The Highlands. Winter is most definitely here.

Friday, 1 November 2013


Cairn Gorm with snow to 850m
Autumn sun below, winter on the tops
Nice single track biking with fab views
There has been fresh snow falling for a couple of days now on the higher summits across The Highlands. The Cairngorm plateau has snow down to around 850m and doesn't seem to be disappearing with the cooler temperatures. Biking  around  Loch Morlich today, lots of nice autumn sunshine. The long term forecast for the winter is looking promising with cooler temperatures than average over the winter months :)