Thursday, 9 January 2014


It took us over 3 hours getting to below The Shelter Stone
Shelter Stone Crag, Castlegates Gully to the far left
Ian making it look easy in the soft snow, it wasn't!
Loch Avon freezing over, Beinn Mheadoin looking good in afternoon sun
The best snow at the end of the day, above Coire Raibert.  Castlegates Gully to left of me
One of those rare days this winter where the winds died and the skies cleared and we had a bit of sun! Ian and I set off this morning to head up Gastlegates Gully, a fab grade 1 climb tucked away in one of the more remote and beautiful parts of The Cairngorms.  We were walking on hard snow from the word go at the Cas car park we thought it was going to be easy going-wrong! The plateau was also nice and icy and fantastic crampon terrain but everything changed once we headed down to Loch Avon, deep, icy soft snow! It took us over 2 hours getting from the lip of Coire Domhain to the foot of Castlegates Gully! After falling into deep holes, wading and 'ministry of funny walking' we decided that swimming up Castlegates was a bit much, considering it was now after 1pm. Still we had a great day, the skies cleared and surrounded by fabulous mountain scenery with The Shelterstone Crag looming above us, plastered in rime higher up. We observed a lot of avalanche debris form a couple of days ago. After abandoning our objective we headed out of the Loch Avon basin via Coire Raibert, deciding to head up the western lip of the burn where we found some great cramponing snow (at last!). We headed back to 1141m in the fading light, observing two people heading down Coire Raibert seemingly without crampons as they struggled to head down, 10minutes later a chopper hovering over Coire Raibert for 10 minutes? A great day out and the energy sapping plunging in deep soft snow is all good fitness training for the winter ahead!

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