Thursday, 18 June 2020


Loch A'an from Pinnacle Gully
The wonderful early part of summer continues. We very rarely get thunderstorm activity here in the Cairngorms area. Don't know the technical reason why. Must be something to do with the rounded nature and plateau of the mountains? Down south there has been a lot of lightening going on with big thundery downpours last couple of days. Today that theme continued. Apparently it was pouring with rain in most of England whilst we enjoyed wall to wall sun!
Coire an t-sneachda 

Marsh Marigolds under Fiacaill Buttress

Fine day for it
I cycled from my house up Glenmore and the beautiful ride to Coire Cas carpark in the Northern Corries. I'm really enjoying the satisfaction of door to mountain last couple of weeks. There was low cloud in Aviemore but by the time I got to Loch Morlich the air was clear. Stunning early morning pedal and views up the ski road. T-shirt weather all day. Very little breeze on the hills but enough to keep you from overheating. I wandered into Coire an t-sneachda and up to the Fiacaill Coire sneachda ridge.
 Roseroot good this summer

The Fiacaill Coire sneachda ridge 

Starry Saxifrage just in flower

Not bad
My familiar route over the ridge. A stunning morning. I was up on the plateau by 10am and sauntered up to the top of Cairn Lochan. You get a grand view of the cliffs from the summit. I could see 2 parties on the classic climb 'Savage Slit' you will  see where it gets it name from by the photos.
Coire an Lochain, Savage Slit just on the right hand crag above the large patch of snow
Climbers on Savage Slit

The lochan below in the coire
I walked south from here and to the wilder part of the Northen Cairngorms, also the most beautiful too. I keep banging on about the splendour of the Loch A'an basin and the area around it. It really is the finest the Cairngorms has to offer. A real sense of solitude amongst amazing rocky mountains. The scale of the place like no other.  A lovely spot for lunch and to fill the water bottle up at the Feithe Buidhe burn.
Top of Hell's Lum Crag

Feithe Buidhe

Snow on the Feithe Buidhe slabs
A keen skier on the large snowpatch
There was a skier having a few runs down the large snowpatch that lingers on the Feithe Buidhe slabs. The depth of snow is probably over 3 metres in places. There are cracks developing now and soon there should be some good tunnels forming.  The skier was the last person I was to see for the rest of the day. So that 4 distant climbers and 1 distant skier and they were the only folk I saw all day.
Hells Lum crag from the Grabh Uisge

The Pinnicle in Pinnicle Gully

Cairn Gorm and Loch A'an from Pinnacle Gully
From Hells Lum over to the Munro top of Carn Etchachan is even wilder and completely pathless terrain. It is an area of beautiful views as you walk amongst boulder 'meadows' and cross the wee waterfalls of the Garbh Uisge Mor and Garbh Uisge Beag burns. If you walk along the cliff tops you get those wonderful views down to Loch A'an. This is a great place to escape everyone. I have never seen anyone in this area on the may occasions I have visited.
The vertical Shelterstone Crag

Top of Castlegates Gully

Cairn Gorm from Carn Etchachan
The two fine Grade I winter climbing gullies of Pinnacle and Castlegates are either side of the famous Shelterstone Crag. If you're into hard rock and ice climbing in a remote and wild setting then this is the mecca. With its beautiful backdrop of Loch Avon does it get any better in the British Isles, indeed anywhere? I've climbed both gullies in winter and they rank (for me) two of the finest Grade I routes in Scotland.
Loch Avon from Carn Etchachan 

Feithe Buidhe snowpatch

Coire an Lochain 
I headed back across the plateau and descended into Coire an Lochain for the return home. All day long I seemed to be in the company of many Skylarks. These wee birds of the hills and moors are just a beautiful sound and have very distinctive flight. They often just hover above you before a sudden dive bomb down to the ground. Delightful.
I thought it was a very fitting and apt end towards my day when I spotted my old friend in the coire, the lone Mountain Hare. Fabulous news yesterday that a new bill has been passed through the Scottish Parliament. The Mountain Hare is now a fully protected species and it is illegal to shoot them. The mass slaughter of these beautiful creatures has been going on for some years. In some areas of the Eastern Highlands the population of hare has plummeted to below 10% of their number from 30 years ago. Quite shocking and disgraceful. The 'reason' that they have been slaughted from estate owners is purely to protect Red Grouse. These landowners and estate workers make claim that there is a tick that the hare carries which kill Red Grouse off. None of that has had any scientific research. A poor excuse. Lets hope the law is enforced.
Mountain Hare, Coire an Lochain

Safely protected

30 minutes with this guy
I spent half an hour or so with this hare before heading down to the road. Another beautiful end to the day in warm sunshine. I always look forward to the fab blast downhill on the bike. I've got my time down to 35 minutes from Coire Cas to my front door. Brill.
The bike down is always fun

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