Tuesday, 31 December 2013


It was yet another wild day in The Cairngorms. I took a wander up The Lairig Ghru today, faced with strong winds, sleet and snow showers, deep, soft snow-all at a whopping 600m! This was the best and only photo today of Lurchers Crag.

Apparently the previous video I had on here was not able to be viewed - something to do with music copyright. So I've edited the music out.
Thanks again to everyone who joined me on the hills in 2013. Without you Tarmachan Mountaineering would not exist!
Best wishes for 2014 and a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, 29 December 2013


Looking over toward Braeriach
Coire an Lochain
Excellent snow cover on the plateau
Finger's Ridge, Coire an t-sneachda
Coire Domhain
A very busy day for skiing
After many days of high winds, cloud, blizzards & everything in between it was so nice to get a cracker of a day in The Cairngorms. The cloud broke up and lifted off the tops by mid day, the winds had eased and the sun came out to play-along with lots of other people. Many folk out enjoying the winter wonderland, there was a very big queue for skiing at the funicular at Cairngorm Mountain this morning and many climbers out in Coire an t-sneachda, The Fiacaill Ridge was very busy, I counted at least 20 folk mid morning but Coire an Lochain was quiet. Karen and I had a lovely walk, a classic walk over The Northern Corries and finishing on Cairn Gorm in beautiful early afternoon sun light. The snow was great for cramponing with a ix of hard refrozen snow, ice, rime and still a lot of wind slab about. Surprisingly excellent snow cover on ridges, despite the high winds. Shaping up to be another great winter with the snow cover we have just now and temperatures behaving themselves.

Saturday, 28 December 2013


The now usual pattern of high winds on the tops continued today. With forecasts of 50mph plus on the higher summits Karen and I headed up Meall a' Bhuachaille. Although it was a milder day lower down the hill it was still cold on the top with icy rocks and we still had 40-50 winds even at the hills relatively low altitude of 810m. Tomorrow looking a much better day with sunshine and light winds-until evening when the usual pattern continues!

Thursday, 26 December 2013


Bruce heading down to Loch Avon Basin, some areas excellent hard snow
Bruce's first view of Shelter Stone, I'm sure he'll be back!
Ice forming on Stag Rocks
Lovely clear period at mid day
Hells Lum Crag in the back ground
Boxing Day Bunny (well Blue Hare to be precise)
After the very high winds over the last few days we finally got a break in the weather and today was calm with only very light winds. Bruce was out with me, wanting a recap on some winter skills but also looking for an adventure. With the very high winds and snow fall recently many areas had a fair amount of windslab. After a discussion and recap on avalanche awareness we decided to head over to the Loch Avon basin and have a look at an easy gully on Stag Rocks, Diagonal Gully is an easy Grade 1 route but very scenic. Dropping down from Coire Domhain it was clear that even southern aspects still had weak layers and windslab. We dug a couple of hasty pits and indeed there was an easy shear so our gully was saved for another day. It's still a wonderful spot with superb views of Shelter Stone and Hells Lum. Ice was forming on the crags and everything is looking great, although another high winds day in store tomorrow.

Monday, 23 December 2013


Nice and sheltered in the trees

10 minutes later and 70mph winds

Father & son team Terry and Bruce were out with me today for a winter skills course. We set off down a very snowy Glenmore road and the snow gates were closed, not surprising given the higher winds forecast later in the day. So we set off in hope up the road and the Plan 'B' was to head over toward the Chalamain Gap area, being lower down we thought we may be lucky but not at all. We struggled in 70mph winds and very poor visibility at a lowly 500m before we called it a day. The snow from yesterday and overnight had created big drifts in the Allt Mor and the trees were looking very festive like. Terry has had no luck these past few weeks, that's the third time he's had to abandon a day out, for one reason or another. This wild, snowy weather is set to continue until Christmas day before a lull. So the guys will be geared up and chomping at the bit for their re scheduled day of winter skills come Boxing Day. Quite laughable that the national weather folk have been predicting a 'UN white Christmas' for some time I think they needed to get up to The Highlands the last few days!

Saturday, 21 December 2013


Lydia was back out with me today. After a couple of days Munro bagging in The Cairngorms early last week she was keen to bag Ben Nevis today. Despite a dire forecast of high winds, hail, lightning and rain we set off up The Mountain Path. Our original plan was for something more exciting over on the north side but the weather always wins. We did well getting to over 1050m today before enough was enough and mobility was becoming difficult. Good points today; cloud off the summits all morning, dry apart from a shower 20 minutes from the end and a very quiet path. We passed only 4 hardy souls all day. The shortest day of the year was marked at midnight yesterday with some very lively lightning and thunderstorms  over Lochaber. More snow and cold weather over next few days. Along with the usual high winds.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Lydia conquering the wind
Ice in places
Coire an t-sneachda
Lydia on a quiet Ben Macdui
Coire an Lochain
Another strong winds day and cold but with the winds only around 40mph on the tops it felt more pleasant. Only the odd snow shower but still plenty of windblown snow flying around and getting deposited on NE/E aspects. Lydia wanted to bag  Ben Macdui today to add to her Munro tally. We made a circuit of it going up via the Fiacaill Coire Cas and descending down Lurchers. There is plenty of water ice around but much of this can be avoided, some deep drifts too, the tops and ridges mainly wind swept. Anyone after some facial therapy for Christmas then head to The Cairngorms. Looks like stormy weather right through to the holiday period and plenty more snowfall too.

Monday, 16 December 2013


Lydia is out with me for a couple of days, bagging a few winter Munros in The Cairngorms. A few days ago it wasn't looking like we would actually get winter conditions, but today winter was back with a vengeance. We couldn't get up to the main Cairngorm Mountain Carpark this morning, the car slipping about all over the show so we started off at the Ciste Carpark and a quieter way up to Cairn Gorm. Plenty of wind blown snow all day and coupled with frequent snow showers it made for a very atmospheric day out. The plan was to head over to Macdui after the Cairn Gorm summit but progress was slow and with the westerlies in our face the rest of the day it wasn't very appealing. So a nice walk over the Northern Corries instead. Actually the strongest winds were on the descent down by Lurchers, gusting over 50mph. Goggles were compulsory bits of kit. Today wasn't about axes, crampons, etc. It was all about looking after yourself, knowing where your kit is, navigation and just standing up to the wind blasting. The photos don't justify how 'bad' the day was! Great fun.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Nice to feel cold at Aviemore level today! With fresh snow on the Cairngorms and more to come over next few  days. Quite stormy weather in store, out tomorrow with a client so we should get the full winter experience :)
The SAIS avalanche reports have now begun, every day through out the winter period.

Check out todays blog too:


Welcome back to winter!

Friday, 13 December 2013


It was a wet day up on Braeriach, despite a reasonable forecast for the afternoon. A strong headwind cycling into Loch Einich eased by the time I was up in Coire Dhondail. Another very mild day, mostly just wearing baselayer and waterproofs. The weather forecast hinted at some wet snow above 1000m but it was just rain on the tops. Not much to see from that point upwards. The photos today may have been better if I was faster getting my camera out for the pure white Mountain Hare or the lone Stag in the coire. So instead just a few gloomy, damp shots!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Coire an Lochain looking very bare
Some sun over The Ryvoan Pass

Cairn Gorm

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Hard to believe that only a few days ago there were several cm's of snow lying in Aviemore and looking up at the hills today there is very little in the way of winter conditions. Hardly a scrap of snow in Coire an Lochain. Temperatures very mild and no cold air on the horizon yet. At least the sun was out this morning, along with a strong SW. Very pleasant on the bike over the Ryvoan Pass.

Friday, 6 December 2013


Meall a Buachaille, the best view of the day
Plenty of rime ice and areas of deep snow
Only a glimpse of Coire an t-sneachda today
High wind chill on Cairn Gorm
Terry had booked to be out with me today on a winter skills course, my first of the season. Unfortunately his dog had to be taken to the vets this morning and Terry had a sleepless night so cancelled last minute. Luck not on his side as we had already re arranged this day from Thursday when it was over 100mph winds on the summits! Never mind, he's back up on 23rd December again and lets hope no obstacles will stop us next time. It had been snowing down to Aviemore level for over 24 hours now and on the hill today there was more light snow fall for much of the time. I took a wee wander up to Cairn Gorm in poor visibility. The NW winds had eased right back but there was still a high wind chill on the summit. Didn't see anyone on the hill today, there were a few folk skiing. Some more snow overnight but once again the temperatures are on the rise by Sunday. This will help consolidate it all and hopefully not too much of a thaw.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Capercaillie on the attack!

Out of the woods, fresh snow even at lower altitudes
The Cairngorms looking breezy
Can I go now please?
Much colder overnight and a frosty morning in Aviemore. There was lovely clear skies to the west whilst The Cairngorms had cloud cover much of the day. There had been a dusting of fresh snow to around 600m with a strong W wind. I had a short run up through the forest and onto the lower lying hills near Aviemore this afternoon and was in sunshine for most of the time. I had the privilege on the way back home to come across that most elusive and rarest of birds, The Capercaille . The last time I saw a Capercaille was some years ago and only a fleeting glimpse. This boy though was guarding his lek against anything and anyone and guarded the path down through the trees! It was amazing to spend over 30 minutes at close quarters with this guy. I eventually 'escaped' him only by avoiding eye contact and making a large detour through the pines when I came upon a mountain hare in full white coat in the undergrowth, absolutely wonderful! A real treat and less than an hour from the hustle and bustle of Aviemore. Looking like a good dump of snow tomorrow and some very high winds, even at lower levels. Very well timed for my first client this season on a winter course for Friday.

Monday, 2 December 2013


Coire an Lochain from The Great Slab
Looking up to No.4 Buttress
Coire an Lochain
There was another mild 'blip' yesterday which wiped out the fresh snow that was on the hills Friday and Saturday. Despite this there is still snow and ice in the corries. Today I took a wander into Coire an Lochain to see what was left. The crags were black but there is still ice hanging on higher up in some of the gullies. I was thinking of heading up The Couloir but there wasn't enough snow/ice to make it worth while. What snow there is was hard and crunchy. There looked hardly anything in Coire an t-sneachda. The strong winds were picking up as the day wore on, feeling cold despite it being a southerly wind. Thankfully we will be getting a cold snap and Thursday is looking like a big dump of snow to lower altitudes