Sunday, 31 December 2017


A wind scoured Fiacaill Ridge
Relatively calm here
Only a breeze across the narrow bit

Rime blasted

Some ice and compacted snow, at last
Not many folk out today
Cornices forming, Jacob's Ladder
This came in handy today
...and these!
To end 2017 it was a final romp over the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda Ridge today. Storm Dylan didn't reach the Cairngorms or most of The Highlands although it was a tad breezy. Not too hard going into Sneachda or onto the foot of the ridge. Halfway up and the winds were around 50mph. Snow blowing and snow showers throughout. Saw one couple backing off and heading down and another pair in front. They were the only folk I saw out on the hill all day. The winds had either died down on the upper section, or it was just sheltered. The steeper sections of the ridge were nicely wind scoured and the ledges had good compacted , hard snow so the going a lot easier than recently. On the plateau it was almost calm and good to get a bite to eat here. All the way back along the plateau there was hardly any wind, until Windy Col. Very apt today. At this point the wind was at it's strongest it had been all day. Challenging conditions from here over to 1141m and down the Chais ridge. Poor visibility all the way. Map, compass and goggles. As soon as I was down to the ski area it was calm and tranquillity again. A fab blast and a great way to end 2017.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, 28 December 2017


Fiacaill Coire Sneachda
Rime ice, Fiacaill Ridge
Poor vis, Fiacaill
Extra guiding! Cairngorm plateau, poor vis
Late afternoon and best view all day
More ridge, more rime
Better in the west?
Fiacaill Buttress just visible
Coire an t-Sneacda
Well below freezing up on the hills for another day. Some more fresh snow overnight in The Cairngorms. The cloud was well down today, not much in the way of views above 750m for much of the day. The west and Southern Highlands seem to have fared better over the last day or so with regards to clear skies and a bit of winter sun. Never mind, you can't have great snow cover and nice weather all the time! Fiacaill Coire Sneachda was good fun today. Lots of rime plastered rocks, my favourite snow form. Coire Sneachda wasn't too bad to walk into, despite the trail going off route much of the way. Up on the plateau and the visibility was even worse. On the way across to 1141m there was a party of 3 guys weaving about near the Windy Col area who needed a bit of assistance to get themselves off the plateau and down. They all looked a bit puzzled to their location and an easy way back to the car park. Turned out they had no map and no compass, their only means of navigation in today's poor vis was some naff looking mapping app on their smart phone. Only last night the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue were out assisting folk off the hills. Take care out there folks, it is winter and your skills need to be up to scratch.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017


Coire an Lochain
Meall a' Bhuchaille with a dusting
Coire an Lochain
Karen in the lochain
Iced up turf
Nice late afternoon
Thankfully the cold air and snow has returned after the Christmas festivities. It had been a mild period but a few snow showers have once again turned the Cairngorms and much of the Highlands back into a winter wonderland. It is also day 26 of my wife's 'Dipathon Challenge'. She has religiously been swimming and dipping into a Scottish Loch every day in December. Come rain, snow, iced up loch's, wind and darkness! Nothing has halted her enthusiasm for plunging into the icy waters. She is doing this for a very worthy cause, Child Poverty Action Group and has a Just Giving Page. If you would like to donate she would be so delighted. Today's 'dip' was Coire an Lochain. It was iced up last week but with the recent thaw it was just icy cold water! We had the whole corrie to ourselves, even on a busy Boxing Day with the Coire Cas carpark almost full with dog walkers, sledges, funicular riders and Boxing Day sale shoppers. More snow to come through the coming week and staying cold. A welcome return. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 23 December 2017


Taking a break in the shelter 

Coire an t-Sneachda 

Snow fun

Getting windy here

Coire an Lochain 

Alladin's Buttress 
A tad breezy on the hills today. Forecast of 70-90mph on the tops. The Nicholson Family we're looking forward to their walk on the plateau and Northern Corries walk. Not in these winds. They we're Alligin to give it a go up in Coire an t-Sneachda and seehow far we could get. It wasn’t too bad below 800m and we had morning coffee in the snow banks at the moraines. After some sliding fun here it was into the full teeth of the storm. Anyone observing us would think we had been on the Christmas drinks,falling and staggering about in the Corrie floor. We turned back at the boulders. Well done to them all, great fun and a lovely family. Surprisingly we saw no one today,even the ptarmigan we're hiding. Snow fall forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Thursday, 21 December 2017


Sgor Gaoithe summit 

Best of the snow

Navigation all day

Slumping cornices

Bare plateau

Dream snow!
Final day with Tom & Alice. On a list of 'winter skills' Winter Navigation is right up there at the top of the vital skills to aquire.  The Glen Feshie hills are perfect terrain to hone your map and compass knowledge.  Unfortunately the snow was absent from the mountains today. Of course the skills are exactly the same in summer and winter.  The big differences are lack of features on the ground , working with big gloves and the cold. The guys did a grand job, they navigated all day and we're spot on. We had cloud down to 800m all day and the freezing levels was just above the summits.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017


Making the best of the snow
Under the Fiacaill Buttress
A very bare Coire an t-Sneachda
Scrambling on rock
Frozen snow, step cutting
Coire an Lochain
Cairn Gorm
Coire an t-Sneacda
The odd patches on plateau
Tom enjoying the snow
Nice sunny afternoon

Day 3 for Alice and Tom on their 4 day course this week. We headed into Coire an t-Sneacda to see what was left of our diminishing snow pack. There is definitely less snow here and nothing to climb. More in Coire an Lochain. We made the best of the snow high up below the Fiacaill Buttress and made or way to the notch on the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda. The temperatures were cooler today and overnight so above 1000m the snow was certainly harder and up on the plateau it was frozen solid. Nothing at all on the Fiacaill itself. It was a glorious day with some beautiful sunshine around  late morning into early afternoon. Just a light wind so lovely to be out. Cooler again tomorrow and forecast is for snow falling by Christmas Day. A few blizzards will go down a treat! Another cracking day with om & Alice. We had a good mix of steep snow, scrambling and a wee bit of step cutting.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017


Ice melting fast
Coire an Lochain
Hell's Lum Cornice
Poor visibility on the plateau
Bare summit, snowy corrie
Soft snow
Snowy fun even in a thaw
Ice lingering in the lochan
Unfortunately the forecasted rapid thaw arrived yesterday afternoon and into today. With sea level temperatures up on the Moray coast reaching +14 C! What a shame, all our lovely cold, snowy, icy conditions here in the Cairngorms took a battering. The lower slopes below 900m are virtually bare of anything white. As always the Cairngorms always hangs on to the snow in it's high, north corries. So this is where we headed today. For day 2 of Alice and Tom's course we headed into Cire an Lochain and some more steep terrain. No crampons needed today. We had a fun route up and around the corrie, making most of the big areas of snow. It was breezy on the tops and Cairn Lochan was bare of snow. For lunch we escaped the winds and got some shelter at the top of Hell's Lum. In the afternoon the guys did some navigation across the plateau. There are sill some large areas of snow lingering around the area between Loch Avon and Ben Macdui. We saw just two folk all day. Lets hope the temperatures start dropping again. It can't get any warmer in December!