Wednesday, 13 November 2019


Full winter conditions
It's amazing how just one day of snow can transform the mountains. Yesterday (Tuesday) it was raining down at Aviemore level, snowing above about 500m. Throw in some wind and already a reasonable base of snow and it's a recipe for some fine winter conditions up high.

Full moon over Glenmore
Full moon and inversion
I made an early start as I knew it would be hard going in the deep, unconsolidated snow. From the Coire Cas carpark I was trail breaking all the way up onto Lurchers Ridge. Ok at first but soon shin deep snow. Fabulous clear morning with the full moon high above the layer of cloud in the Strath. This cloud stuck in the valley all day, those poor folk mingling in Aviemore high street, should of got a bit higher and it was a glorious day.

Meall a' Bhuachaille poking through the cloud layer

Sunrise above Cairn Lochan
It took me around double the time to get onto the plateau. There were a few folk behind me, time for them to take over! One group headed off towards Lurchers Crag, the other two were heading for Ben Macdui. This was my original destination today. Watching this pair in front of me it was clear they didn't know the route up towards Macdui, I changed my plan! I had an 'easier' day and set off up to Cairn Lochan. At the flattening it was almost knee deep snow. I made a good decision. Macdui is a 7 hour day in summer conditions, 8-9 hrs in ' good winter' conditions. Who knows how long in knee deep conditions!
Well rimed and snowed up crags

Easier going on the tops
Thankfully it was a tad easier going on the flat summit of Cairn Lochan. There was only a 10 mph wind today but even with the bright sun the temperature must have been  at least minus 5 C and the windchill on top. Apparently on Cairn Gorm summit first thing this morning it was minus 9 C. As always it's a stunning viewpoint here. There were a couple of climbing parties at the foot of Savage Slit.
Coire an Lochain

A distant Ben Macdui from Cairn Lochan

Cairn Lochan
One of the finest walks in the Cairngorms is the Northern Corries walk. A brilliant, high level and easy walk across the tops of Cairn Lochan, Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and finally onto Cairn Gorm summit. It was full cover of snow all the way along the route today. Looking south across the plateau and it was glorious, untouched snow. A beautiful clear blue sky but by mid afternoon some cloud from the south and west was slowly heading over.
Coire an t-sneachda and Cairn Gorm

Fiacaill Coire an t-Sneachda

Fingers Ridge
A few folk going both ways across the plateau now so easier going, phew! I think I had my full body work out this morning, thank you. It felt like a January of February day out on the hills with all this snow. Quite remarkable. It was a bit like the 2012/13 start of winter, remember that one? It was a cracker. Fingers crossed this is the start of a great winter season.
Top of Alladin's

Beinn Mheadhoin

Cairn Gorm and 1141m
From 1141m it was still a full cover of snow all the way down through the ski area and back to Coire Cas. Won't be long before the ski area is open. There is well enough snow for ski touring at the moment and more snow to come over the next few days. Temperatures remaining well below freezing on the summits. A brilliant start to winter. Fabulous day and a work out into the bargain :)

Coire Cas
Love a full moon

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