Saturday, 31 January 2015


Another dump of snow to low levels and a windy day meant the road up to Cairngorm was closed today. A bit of chaos at the Glenmore snow gates this morning. Today I had a winter skills group with staff and customers from Cotswold Outdoor in Livingston. We headed up into the Coire an Laoigh area which is relatively low altitude but enough steep ground and terrain to get all the necessary skills in today. We were in a white bubble for most of the day but it wasn't too windy so pleasant. We covered all the basics of axe techniques and found some old, hard neve which was great for cramponing and some sliding at the end of the day. A great day  to test out all that lovely gear that the guys sell to us.

Friday, 30 January 2015


Looking into the Lairig Ghru from a snowy Aviemore golf course
Last couple of days we've had another lowering of temperatures down at glen level and Wednesday saw quite a dump of snow with strong winds again. Looking like it going to be hard work over the next few days walking in the big drifts! A busy period of work for me coming up from tomorrow right through the month of February. Several dates over the half term break in Feb I could have filled many times over! Don't forget folks that March is also winter an a great month too! Another big dump of snow and stronger winds for Saturday. A cold northerly wind forecast so wrap up warm :)

Monday, 26 January 2015


Harvey and Paul enjoying some sun and a respite from the winds
Excellent hard re frozen snow
The finest feature of Bynack Mor - The Barns of Bynack
The guys did well posing for his one - it was over 50mph here
Easterly aspects loaded with snow
A tour of The The Barns
Even the ptarmigan werent flying today, there's five of them here
After yesterdays warm temperatures we were back to normality today with below freezing temps on the hills. Last day out with Paul and Harvey and we finished the long weekend with a Munro summit - Bynack Mor. Weather forecast of 50-60mph winds were spot on today, but the guys coped well, this being the third winter weekend out with me so they are well used to a few breezy days. Any snow high up is now well frozen after the melt/freeze cycle. there is a lot of snow that's been scoured and wind blown onto easterly aspects. After our summit victory we headed down to Bynack Mor's finest feature - The Barns of Bynack. What do you mean you've never seen these? That's outrageous. These massive tors are the Munros most spectacular rock feature. Its also a fine spot to get out of the winds. A great three days with the guys, as always. Mixed weather next few days and a very cold blast with fresh snow toward the end of the week.

Sunday, 25 January 2015


Italian hitch
Coire an t-sneachda
Axe and bucket seat belay
Rock belays
A rise in the temperatures today and its been above freezing on the hills, first time in weeks! This will be short lived though as colder conditions tomorrow and by next weekend an Arctic blast. Despite the warmer weather there hasn't been too much snow loss in The Cairngorms. It was a breezy day but we got some nice shelter on the eastern side of The Fiacaill Ridge today. We covered snow belays and simple rock belays, a new skill set for the guys. Once more we had no precipitation today in the east.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


Paul heading into the Upper Coire Garbhlch
At last, some hard snow an easier walking, along with clear skies
Finding some steep groud beside Hermit's Ridge
Looking up to the crags of the Upper Coire Garbhlach
Step Cutting
The Feshie road a bit snowy this morning
Return clients Harvey and Paul are back out with me again for their annual 3 days of winter fun. Today we went into glen Feshie which was looking beautiful on the drive in with fresh snow from last night. Problem was the car got stuck so we shovelled and ice axed it out into a safer place! So 40 minutes later and we were off. Coire Garbhlach was today's venue, a seldom visited climbing corrie near the Munro summit of Mullach Clach a' Bhlair. It was very hard going in the fresh snow and heather, a full body work out just getting into the Upper Corrie. We had a plan for an adventurous easy gully but with the fresh accumulations and some weak cornices we opted for a safer option and got a grade 1 route in to the side of the prominent rock feature of Hermit's Ridge. We had only a flurry of snow for 5 minutes and sunshine in the middle part of the day which made the hard slog every bit worth it. An even harder slog down at the end of the day but at least the road had been ploughed and no nocturnal shovelling on the Feshie road. Gran day out and surprise surprise no one seen all day in the corrie.

Thursday, 22 January 2015


Daybreak over The Fiacaill Ridge and Coire an Lochain from a wind scoured Windy Ridge
Karen enjoying the early morning sun
A deserted Cairn Gorm summit but no views
Boot prints and wind erosion
Another very cold night with temperature down to -10 C in Aviemore. Karen and I had a very early quick jaunt up Cairn Gorm to escape the skiers and crowds (and to get to work later in the morning). There was a lovely rosy glow to the skies over The Cairngorms. With cloud above 1100m we didn't get any summit views. The weather did clear later in the day and it was another fine day to be out in the hills. After a spell of very fine weather with light winds and cold temperatures we will be back into a mix of 'normal' winter weather over the weekend. Strong winds, melt/freeze cycles, snowfall and the odd spell of sunshine. Waterproofs and goggles coming up!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


A nicely rimed Fiacaill Ridge
Coire an t-sneachda
Spot the climbers in the Fiacaill Couloir
A lovely afternoon for photography
Looking over to Coire an Lochain
There has been drifting snow yesterday in strong winds. This morning the SE winds were still strong but they slowly eased through the day. Cloud lifted this afternoon too and it was another lovely day to be out on the hills. Low temperatures so the snowpack is still unconsolidated in places, ridge routes the best options at the moment. The  Fiacaill Ridge was nicely rimed today and with some sunshine late in the day it was looking great. Lots of groups out in the corries and climbers out in Coire sneachda. There was a team climbing on The Fiacaill Couloir as I was on the ridge. Another cold day tomorrow and milder conditions on Friday which will be good to get some consolidation in the snow.

Monday, 19 January 2015


East face Sgurr Ruadh looking superb
Beinn Liath Mhor's long summit ridge, The big Torridon peaks to the right
Steep slopes from Coire Lair onto Beinn Liath Mhor, Fuar Tholl in the background
Liathach & Beinn Eighe
Fine views of Sgurr Ruadh along the south ridge of Beinn Liath Mhor
Looking back to the Achnashellach Forest and remote Munros of Monar
Coire Lair, Sgurr Ruadh and the Munro summit of Beinn Liath Mhor
Some lovely neve on the decent
Beinn Alligin & Liathach
A mix of powder, ice, neve and windslab today
Another stunningly beautiful and very cold day with overnight temperatures plummeting to around  -10 C  throughout many areas in the Highlands. Of course this means clear skies and no wind. With these conditions it's always great to explore the very special places in Scotland and I headed to the Glen Carron/Torridon area. I'm never sure weather to include the Munros around Coire Lair as 'Torridon'. The fabulous mountains  between Glen Carron and Glen Torridon offer superb views of the Torridon peaks, therefore I class it  has Torridon! The journey from my home in Aviemore to Achnashellach is one of the most beautifuly scenic rail journeys in the country. With snow lying at all levels it was even more spectacular today. Achnashellach station as got to be the finest starting point of any station on the Highland lines. Shortly after you disembark here you get the most spectacular views of Fuar Tholl at the entrance to Coire Lair. Today's conditions meant trail breaking in powder snow lower down the hill. To make a fine circuit of the three mountains that surround the coire (Fuar Tholl, Sgurr Ruadh and Beinn Liath Mhor) would be a very long and tiring route in the conditions we have just now. So I was quite happy to settle for just one mountain, Beinn Liath Mhor. Thankfully there were a couple of folk some way ahead of me who had made a trail through the ankle deep snow but it was still hard work. With spectacular views and sunshine it felt a lot easier! Its been some years since I was on the Munro of Beinn Liath Mhor and I forgot how steep the initial slopes are. There was a lot of wind slab around so careful route choice was exercised. Thankfully there are plenty of crags and boulders to make a safe route up the hill. I spent over 30 minutes on the summit savouring the views of the big Torridon Munros ( Beinn Alligin, Liathach & Bienn Eighe). It must be one of the finest views of these hills, they look like  it's one long ridge! It was late by the time I left the summit and I found a better route back down the hill, taking a line further east gave some good neve and more consolidated snow. Timed perfectly for the 6.06pm train back. Days like this and places like this are so special and I'm sure I will be back soon this winter.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


A great view over to Cairn Toul
A lot of snow on Hell's Lum Crag
A frozen Loch Avon

Stunning day after the storms. Light winds, wall to wall sun and cold. Wonderful walking along the Cairngorm plateau. I'll let the photos do the talking!
Top of Castlegates Gully

Loch Avon basin with Stag Rocks on the left

Sun peeping over Coire an Lochan

Carn Toul & Sgorr an Lochan Uaine

Sunset on Meall a Bhuachaille