Monday, 21 October 2019


First Fiacaill traverse this season

Ankle depth snow in the corrie

Sun rising

Coire an Lochain

sub zero on the summits

No camouflage here
A glorious day in The Cairngorms. A brief high pressure nudging over The Highlands gave a clear skies morning with no wind and super visibility. The snow from yesterday was still lying at 900m and a winter scene in the Northern Corries. Out early doors to catch the best of the clear skies. Lovely quiet and peaceful in Sneachda, then up onto the Fiacaill Coire an Sneachda. The first of many winter traverses no doubt. It was out with the ironmongery over the ridge. Plenty of rime ice and soft snow. Up on the plateau there was a full covering of ankle depth snow. Brilliant views. On the descent I saw hoards of folk heading up the highway to Ben Macdui. Some well equipped for a winter day out, some erm….. maybe not so :) . I headed down into Coire an Lochain to check out my Mountain Hare. He's not into his camouflage yet and not running about mad like in the summer.
This snow will probably disappear in the next day or so with some 'normal' Autumn temperatures.... until the next winter spell.
A foot note on this blog. My previous post probably had the biggest hits ever since my 12 years of running Tarmachan Mountaineering's blog. Over 6000 views and counting! Obviously there is a lot of folk who love snow just like me :).

Sunday, 20 October 2019


A wintry looking Cairn Gorm summit

Poor visibility at all levels

Easy navigation here

Rime ice

A few cm's of snow above 850m

Winter gear time

Cairn Gorm

More rime
The first proper snows fell on higher summits overnight and into today. It's always great to see and feel the first taste of winter. Of course we did have a sprinkling of snow a couple of weeks back but today seemed the real deal. Strong NE winds, poor visibility, rime ice and low summit temperatures of below freezing. The cloud was way down below the Coire Cas carpark this morning. Snow was lying around 850m and constant, light snow showers. It is quite normal to get the odd day or two of snow in October and this will be gone in a couple of days. November is for me the official start of winter. Cold again tomorrow and possibly a bit of sun with clear summits so should get some decent views and photographs.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019


Mark enjoying sunshine on An Teallach
We have long been due a nice spell of clear, calm conditions. This weekend we got it! Mark had booked a day on An Teallach with me for the Saturday. The NW Highlands were probably the only place in the country that was plagued by cloud and showers on his booked day out with me. Tarmachan Mountaineering are always flexible around choosing the best weather day. Mark was too. So we swapped the traverse of An Teallach to the Sunday. A glorious weather forecast so everything looked promising.

Beinn Dearg Mor from the ridge
Fine conditions for walking
Mark had already been on An Teallach, indeed he has completed all the Munro summits. His return to the finest mountain in the UK was to 'bag' the Munro 'tops'. There are almost has many of these as there are the main Munro mountain peaks. So, unfinished business on the many tops of An Teallach along the numerous spurs and ridges that this fine mountain boasts. All of them are walkable with only one that required scrambling. If you take some devious lines you can minimise this and find an easy way to the tops, requiring hardly any hands on rock.
The traverse under the pinnacles of Corrag Buidhe
There were quite a few folk going in the opposite direction and taking direct lines across the pinnacles. On Sgurr Fiona we met a group of 14 folk! Don't think I have ever seen An Teallach so busy. There was no wind  and despite the low temperatures we were walking in just light fleece tops. What a joy in mid October and the added bonus of some fine views.
Sgurr Creag an Eich ridge looking back to Sgurr Fiona
After the Sgurr Fiona Mark still had two more outlying tops, Creag an Eich which lies off a ridge to the west and gives fine views out to the coast. We retraced our steps to the bealach then a traverse under Sgurr Fiona, returning onto the main ridge line leading up to Bidean a' Ghlas Thuill. Here you get the classic An Teallach view.
An Teallach profile
Finally our last top of the day, Glas Mheall Liath. Along this ridge you get to look down into one of the impressive easy winter climbs on the mountain, Hayfork Gully and above the abyss, its striking Torridonian sandstone pinnacle. Shortly before the summit there is a dramatic change in the rock, from sandstone to quartzite blocks as you gain the final easy slope up to the top.
The 'pinnacle' above Hayfork Gully

The 'Deargs' in the distance
We descended the steep quartzite blocks into the beautiful Toll an Lochain. This is one of the toughest parts of the entire route. Careful route finding and steady  footwork to reach the floor of the coire some 400m below. It's a slow descent but the stunning and wild scenery at the bottom more than makes up for it. After admiring the views we made our way back onto the easy track leading down to Corrie Hallie, the final 30 minutes in the dark. A good 10.5 hour day on the finest mountain on a fine Autumn day.

On Saturday day Karen and I had a great wee jaunt up on the Cairngorms. There are some great viewpoints and in a quiet part of the Northern Cairngom range, overlooking Strathnethy. It was clear and a stiff breeze.

Above Strath Nethy
Cairngorm plateau and Strath Nethy
This route is probably the finest way to Cairn Gorm. Quiet and away from the skiing paraphernalia of the Coire Cas area.

On Monday I took a wander up into the coire to check out the ptarmigan and mountain hare. It's been a strange summer and early Autumn with very few sightings of ptarmigan. Quite worrying. Hopefully they will be back in their usual flocks soon.
Autumn colours for the hares
On Tuesday morning there was a layer of thin cloud down in Strathspey, glorious sunshine above 300m. A cool breeze in the morning with dramatic cloud layers swirling about from the south. A great day on the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda then over to the rim of Loch A'an. Some fine views and the skies staying clear.
A layer of cloud in the Lairig Ghru

Atmospheric cloud over the Fiacaill
Sunshine taking control
By lunchtime it was beautiful in the warm sunshine and the winds had dropped. I wandered around the top of Hells Lum, Stag Rocks and then a pathless walk circling Cairn Gorm and into Ciste Mheared before heading down Windy Ridge. Didn't see a single ptarmigan again all day. Where are you?
Loch A'an
Fine views
Hells Lum Crag
Stag Rocks
Beinn Mheadoin and Loch A'an

Thursday, 10 October 2019


Redwing in the Rowan Tree

Berry nice
The unfrequented Strath Nethy

Beinn Mheadhoin

Blue skies this morning

Colder on Wednesday

Strathnethy and Strathspey
Mountain Hare today
Changing into winter pelage

Hiding in the rocks

So clever
Blackbirds like berries too

Sunshine amongst the Rowan
Another unsettled spell of weather with no long. clear spells in the near future. Just one cold, crisp day would be nice. I guess it will come. The east has fared best in any dry weather the last two days. It was forecast to be wet snow on Wednesday but it was just sleety showers and these were light. Even so it was chilly and a 40-50mph cold wind on Cairn Gorm. There was a nice big flock of 10 ptarmigan over on the east side of the hill but they were quite flighty and no photos yesterday. Down in the garden we have had the Redwing's visiting our Rowan Tree which is loaded with rowan berries which they love. Great watching them gobble up these. The Redwing and Fieldfare are Autumn and winter visitors to our shores.
Another wander up into the high Cairngorms again this morning. The winds were much lighter and just a few drizzly showers. A great couple of hours photographing the Mountain Hare who wasn't running about too much, but cleverly he ran into the boulder field to make me work for the images!

Tuesday, 8 October 2019


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