Wednesday, 21 March 2018


The classic view of An Teallach
We've had some fantastic snow and weather conditions over the last few days here in The Highlands. Another blast of cold and snowy conditions to transform the mountains, then some wonderful clear skies.
Just catching up on my blog after four magic days in the hiils.  At the weekend it was the fabulous NW Highlands. Monday and Tuesday, The Cairngorms.

The 'Beast from the East' made a return visit to our shores at the weekend. Heavy snowfall and high winds due to hit The Cairngorms. With this in mind Karen and I headed away to the NW Highlands for a couple of days. This area was to be the finest weather on Saturday and Sunday. Sunshine and dry conditions almost guaranteed. Just by chance some of the finest mountains are up that way. We had two nights in Dundonnell, base camp for An Teallach, the finest mountain on the planet!
Windy at sea level!
There was a stiff wind blowing down at Dundonnell when we started up the hill. We trusted the forecast and made a leisurely start and a stroll up the trail. Afternoon wind speeds were to be much lower on the tops.
One of  the easiest routes on An Teallach  leaves direct from the village of Dundonnell on an easy angled path, up beside the Allt a' Mhuillin. It is usually boggy and wet in places. With the sub zero overnight temperatures all the bog was frozen solid. From about 700m onwards we were walking on fabulous frozen snow in the stream bed. Over a metre of snow in here.
The Allt a ' Mhuillin
Ice falls on Glas Mheall Mor
Some wonderful looking ice on the NW aspect of Glas Mheall Mor. These are less than an hour from the road. If this was Glencoe or The Cairngorms climbers would be queueing up for these! We saw no one all morning on the trail. We reached the bealach below the north ridge of Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill expecting to be hit by a savage wind. It was almost calm! The views from here suddenly get spectacular. The western seaboard under blue skies looked beautiful. From the bealach to the top of Bidean a' Ghals Thuill (one of two Munros on An Teallach) it is just 30 minutes. Easy slopes in summer along the narrowing ridge line. Under a winter mantle it feels more serious. There was a full cover of snow today, axe and crampons for sure.
The final slopes to Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill
The 'Dearg's' & The Fannichs from the summit
Sgurr Fiona and the Corrag Bhuidhe
From the Munro summit of Bidean you get one of the classic views  of An Teallach. Ice filled gullies plunge down from the pinnacled ridge line to the wonderful Toll an Lochain. This is a view to savour. There was some cloud around but within 30 minutes of taking photographs  the cloud was blown away to leave bright sun and some beautiful late afternoon blue skies. Hardly any wind by on the top.
Lovely light on the descent
 Just one summit of An Teallach today. We will be back, for sure!

Another beautiful day in store. We had an easier day today but equally spectacular. An Teallach again, not the tops but a visit to the wonderful, spectacular and seldom visited Toll an Lochain, the main coire of An Teallach. Here lies a lonely lochan and for Karen a chance to swim in a stunning location.
Loch Toll an Lochain & An Teallach
Alpine An Teallach!
It's approx a two hour walk into this loveliest of corries. The cloud broke up just as we arrived. Perfect timing! The winds had died down  and we enjoyed the sunshine amidst a spectacular backdrop. Luckily for Karen there was some open water at the outflow of the lochan so no ice axe required to chip away the ice. What a place to swim! Not for too long in these conditions.
Swimming in Loch Toll an Lochain
We saw no one all day. Another beautiful late afternoon. The Fannichs on the way back home looking absolutely stunning. Another day!

Alpine conditions Fiacaill an Coire Sneacda
 Back home in Aviemore and 'The Beast' had had it's say. Apparently it was wild and snowy in The Cairngorms with the ski road once again closed due to heavy drifting. High windchill on the tops by all accounts, for those who struggled up. Today it was calm and a blue skies throughout, what a difference. It was an absolutely stonking day to be out on the mountains. Full cover of snow. Eastern aspects were wind scoured with fabulous hard neve. It was quiet and peaceful up on the hills. Many instructors from England & Wales now gone home for the remainder of the winter. As always my winter courses run right through to Easter and beyond....!
It was just magical on the Fiacaill. Th ridge covered in snow and rime plastered rocks. It was an easy romp up.
What a day!
Cairn Lochan
Loch A'an in all it's glory
Cairn Gorm & Coire an t-Sneacda
Fiacaill Buttress
A stroll up to Cairn Lochan then over to Loch A'an for the afternoon. What a place to linger for a while. Hardly any wind but still cold. Must bring the sunscreen tomorrow!

All things come to an end. The final day of cold, dry days and fabulous snow conditions. A big change to come on Wednesday with the dreaded Atlantic lows back on our shores. So today was a day to linger and soak up the views and sunshine once more.
Cairn Toul - Braeriach plateau from Ben Macdui
 There was a bit more in the way of cloud this morning, but by the time I reached Ben Macdui it was starting to break up and some fantastic views. One of the finest sights in the Cairngorms is the enormous Cairn Toul to Braeriach plateau. From just West of  Macdui's summit, the second highest peak in the British Isles, you get stunning vistas of the third, fourth and fifth highest mountains in the british Isles!
Full snow cover on the plateau
Cairn Toul & Sgor an Lochan Uaine
Coire an Lochain
Still chilly on the tops of course. Down in Coire an Lochain it was like a furnace. Sunbathing time and chance for some ptarmigan photography. The air was still and the croaking ptarmigan could be heard from some distance. They are just coming into Spring plumage. Weather forecasts suggesting more cold, wintry weather to come. This winter has a long way to go yet!
Male ptarmigan, Spring plumage visible
Climbers on the Fiacaill in afternoon sun
Coire an t-Sneachda & Coire an Lochain in the sun