Posts Tagged ‘cairngorms’

Cairngorm winter – February 2018 Glen Clova

Monday, February 19th, 2018

The Scottish trip in February saw us heading to Glen Clova in the southern Cairngorms, keen to make the most of a good forecast and hopefully some great conditions. Axes and crampons were sharpened, skis dusted off and way too much food packed as we made our way to the newly refurbished Braedownie hut, which is owned by the Carn Dearg MC.

A few keen members had gone up early to try and get an extra day in. On Friday Paul and Jamie took the gear for a walk up Corrie Fee, sadly the conditions weren't quite as good as hoped, and all the gullies looked a "bit deathy" (Jamie's words!), so they followed Simon and Carmen up the buttress of Craig Rennet (deep, soft snow and heather).

Rob takes up the story for Saturday: "After much discussion and lots of delays while waiting for the rain to stop, Jamie, Paul, Rob, Dave, Russ, Dan and Peri headed off towards Winter Corrie in the light drizzle. The Walk in is quite straightforward and takes a little over an hour. We were greeted with a view of much snow and huge cornices overhanging the main buttresses. The line of Diagonal Gully did appear to have lots of ice on it but we decided against it. Peri retreated back to the hut before taking a stroll to Corrie Fee, the rest of us made our way to the centre of the Corrie and had a lunch break by the huge boulder.

We picked a route up the eastern (less loaded) slopes which was cornice free and with rocks to join up in a route to the rim. We all trudged up, put our crampons on before tackling a few rock steps on the way to the top. Dan ran laps around various bits of the slope with a huge grin on his face.

We topped out in calm, bright sunshine and blue skies and were rewarded with wonderful panoramic views. The team then plodded to Driesh summit and hid by the trig point before splitting up. Paul, Jamie and Dave route marched over to Mayar and down the Kilbo path. Rob Dan and Russ navved back to the corrie and descended the spur, which was occasionally eventful with deep snow and large patches. At the bottom, they crossed the style of doom and the found the bridge which made a short walk back to the hut".

While they were all playing in Winter corrie, another group of 6 headed further on to Corrie Fee to have a look. Again this was found to be powdery and unconsolidated, although everyone managed a route of some kind, sticking well clear of the unstable looking gullies. After ascending the left hand side buttress, Richard and Pete continued over the plateau to the Munros of Mayar (928m) and Driesh (947m) in the sunshine, with some great sastrugi patterns to admire on the way across.

Jamie: "On Sunday, being pretty knackered and thoroughly sick of carrying a big sack, I went for a wee run in the snow, telling Paul I'd be back in an hour, which turned out to be 13km, climbed to over 700m (at the shelter) and took 2h15m. Only out by 125%!" .

Pete, Mike and Richard having seen the cracking conditions on the plateau the day before were keen to get the skis out and head up for a day tour. After boot-packing up Glen Doll they popped the skis on at the forest edge and skinned up Jock's road past the emergency shelter to tick off their first munro on ski (Tolmount, 958m).

The tour continued over the Munro Tom Buidhe (957m) as the viz came and went in the strong wind, and then the cloud came down properly, resulting in some challenging navigation to get off the plateau. Turns out trying to estimate how far you've travelled and contouring on skis is pretty tricky! Sadly they couldn't do the best downhill ski sections justice in the white out, and found their way down corrie fee before hiking back through the forest to the hut.

Monday was the day to travel home, and with a poor forecast most were planning short trips out before hitting the road. This resulted in a pleasant group walk up to Loch Brandy from the valley bottom behind the hotel. Some carried on to the Corbett 'The Goet' (Ben Tirran) unfortunately no views to reward them, but they did find a bothy to eat lunch out of the weather. Peri went for a 'powder swim' up driesh in an 'epic' amount of snow following fresh falls overnight getting some fabulous views before the clag blew in.

Apologies I don't have a record of what everyone got up to, but all agreed it was a great weekend of winter adventures, hanging out in the mountains with friends, and of course calorie loading YAC style!

August Bank Holiday in Scotland

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Savage SlitThis year's August meet saw a return to Glen Feshie, where we stayed last New Year. A full complement of 10 decided to brave the midges and the weather, and were rewarded by another good weekend.

On Saturday the weather forecast was for sun and showers. Having done all the nearby Munros and optimistic that we might be able to climb during the dry interludes, Simon and I headed off for a classic rock tick – Savage Slit (S) in Coire an Lochain. As Scottish walk-ins go it is not that far – we set off into rainbow skies and passed a herd of reindeer. However, as we got closer things got cloudier and wetter. The showers became pretty much persistent rain – but it was light rain at least.

Pygmy RidgeAfter a fair bit of dithering we decided to attempt the route (dripping wet). The book said it goes in almost all conditions which is true, it was a bit unnerving given the wetness but the good protection helped. A great line and route, probably even more spectacular in the dry, fully deserving its classic status despite not being able to feel our fingers or toes. Some of the other harder lines look great – but we were not tempted to try in the rain – will have to wait. Given the weather we headed straight back and made an early start on dinner for once.

Skiing near Hells LumMeanwhile the bikers cycled up Glen Feshie and (almost) to the summit of Carn Ban Mor – a big hill with much pushing! Mike was the only one to clear all the drainage ditches and bars on the descent. No tea stop (shock horror) but normal service was resumed with pints of Caillie at the Watersports Centre.

Michael and David went for a walk along Glen Feshie and then up Allt Garbhlach to Carn Ban Mor and along the tops in the clag to Sgor Gaoith and Sgoran Dubh Mor, descending via Meall Tionail. A good day despite strong winds and a total lack of views.

Afterthought AreteSunday was due to be similar, but with less rain. Simon and I thought about Talisman (the other Classic Rock route in the area), but the idea of a 4 hour walk in with the chance of rain when we got there didn't appeal! Instead we headed for Coire an t’Sneachda and did Pygmy Ridge (Moderate). We'd intended soloing or moving together, but in the end pitched the whole thing, in 5 excellent pitches. This was followed by a walk over to Stag Rocks (above Loch Avon) to do Afterthought Arête (an 8 pitch Moderate) where we got views of a couple of skiers taking advantage of the late snow patches! The weather improved in the late afternoon so we headed back over Cairn Gorm summit and an adjacent Top with stops to watch the hares on the way up, and a snow bunting posing for photos on the summit.

Cairn Gorm HareMeanwhile the bikers did a lower level route to Rothiemurchus and Loch Einich from the hut with fantastic cakes courtesy of the Inshraich Garden Centre, while Mike headed to Wolftrax at Laggan to put his new mountain bike to the test.

David and Michael walked up some of the hills west of the A9 – up to Cnoc an Tiumpain, along A'Bhuidheanaich and on to Meall a' Chocaire with a descent via Raitts Burn to Balavil.

Snow BuntingOn Bank Holiday Monday the weather did its usual trick. David, Mike and Michael went to the Cairngorm ski resort with the intention of ascending Cairngorm should there be any visibility. There wasn't, so they gave up and went home.

The bikers went to Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten from Loch Morlich, a very fast ride, followed by more cracking cakes at Loch Morlich Vistor Centre.

Although the weekend was now over, a few people stayed in Scotland for a bit longer0.

The bikers stayed at the hut, and on Tuesday cycled Burma Road from Aviemore. A brutal first 3 miles up hill took an hour, down on other side 10 minutes. This was the most scenic ride of the trip, despite torrential rain from Carrbridge all the way back to Aviemore. Tea stop at Carrbridge Kitchen – soup then cakes, Tradewinds in the Bridge Inn, Aviemore. Om nom nom.

A VS at NeistMeanwhile, on Monday, Simon and I headed over to Dunvegan on Skye and a bimble around the castle gardens. This was followed by climbing at Neist on Tuesday, we were dodging the showers but managed to get a few routes done on the sea-cliffs this time.

Round of Coire a' GhreadaidhWe then headed to Glen Brittle with the aim of finishing the last Munros on Skye that Simon had done before but I hadn't. On Wednesday we bagged the three Munros around the head of Coire a' Ghreadaidh, luckily the winds in the glen were much stronger than those on the tops and we managed to scramble all the way along the narrow ridge.

Collie's LedgeAs we were staying put for a few days we put our big tent up – which almost flew (with us attached) towards the sea. Don’t try to put up a tent with door partially open facing into the wind – d'oh! We then spent the next couple of days ticking off my final Munros on Skye in less than favourable conditions. Sgurr Alasdair via the great stone shoot (never again!) on Friday, then Sgurr Dubh Mhor on Friday, when Simon's inspired navigation led us into Coire Lagan again instead of Coir' a' Ghrunnda! But luckily the delay meant we got to our objective during the only hour of the day when it wasn't raining.

Inaccessible PinnacleIt was looking like the In Pin would have to wait for another trip as winds were very strong on the ridge and rain pretty relentless (I scrambled in gloves all week). However, on the final day, contrary to the forecast the weather was good, with sun and light wind. So we headed off for the In Pin, we over took a couple on the approach and we were the only two teams on the Pinnacle. A great route and fantastic setting – easy but incredibly exposed. Glad we waited for the better conditions!

Skye done – tick – just Mull, Loch Fyne, 1 in Knoydart and 5 in Glen Affric to go!

A few more photos from the Cairngorms here

In which Peri organises a meet that ain't cancelled

Monday, April 19th, 2010


With under a week to the Easter meet in the Cairngorms, reports of apocalyptic blizzards bringing Scotland to a halt convinced me I had acheived the Holy Grail of organising three cancelled meets in a row. But it was not to be. My application to be the fifth horseperson of the apocalypse (the proposed five being War, Plague, Famine, Death, and Crap Weather) has been rejected and we had a very successful meet with lots of Munros being ticked, during the course of which:
*various sheep were bothered by Andrew and Donal, under the pretext of rescuing them from certain death buried deep in snowdrifts
*Rich and Jen went all the way to the Aberdeen sea cliffs before realising they had forgotten their climbing harnesses
* Pete Evans got injured (again)

Since there were a lot of peope and I couldnt remember what everyone had done I asked people to send me some notes. This has cunningly allowed me to just cut and paste verbatim as follows:

Account 1) In which Simon and Carmen conspire to cripple Pete

"Friday. Drove over to Spittal of Glenshee to do our last remaining Munros in the area, Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ. We were right on the edge of the area of recent snow – to the south the hills were mainly snow free. Walk up the glen was quick at first, up the line of an old railway, but slowed down as we got higher and met deep soft snow drifts. Once on the hill though we sped up again, crossing nice hard neve. We met the soft drifts again on the traverse to the second summit, and the descent down the glen was again slowed by deep melty snow.

Saturday. A poor start with rain, but the forecast was for sun later so we went with Peter to do Mount Keen, the most easterly Munro, and with a reputation for tedium. The long 7 mile walk in up the glen was pleasant, but the hill itself lived down to its reputation – and again soft deep snow drifts slowed us down. The weather stayed fine though with only the last 50m or so in the cloud – but the earlier rain had only fallen as new snow above about 900m. A 17 mile round trip, and Peter was suffering a painful knee for most of it, but carried on anyway – though was broken for the rest of the trip.

Sunday. A good forecast so we decided on a long walk. From Linn of Dee we walked to Derry Lodge – fast going on a mainly snow-free track. From there to the Corrour bothy was very slow, with the usual soft deep snow hiding all the paths – and nobody else had been daft enough to head in before us so there were no tracks to follow. I nearly suggested turning back it was such hard work. After lunch in the bothy we headed up the euphemistically renamed Devil's Point – Carmen's final Munro in the area. Much easier going, with firm neve again, we even got the axes out when it got worryingly steep. Superb views from the summit, and nobody else in sight, even on the more accessible hills nearby. A long day – 20 miles round trip.

Monday. Fortunately it was warm and wet, so we had an excuse to go straight home."

Account 2) In which Donal and Andrew bother sheep.

"Friday – Donal and Annie took a break from the driving to walk around the Devil’s beeftub. Beware sketch maps and descriptions in books. Walk starts near a ‘prominent’ roadside monument. Having visited a variety of prominent monuments that weren’t right, we eventually spotted the ‘prominent’ one, ten metres down a steep bank and completely invisible and unsigned from the road.

Saturday – Lovely walk along a tarmac road near Tomintoul that had thoughtfully been cleared of snow by the local farmer. Not so the track continuing up the hillside, which provided an entertaining waist deep yomp through virgin snow. Andrew and Donal discovered the sport of sheep dragging. Hoping this can be included in the 2012 Olympics.

Sunday – Peri led us up Lochnagger, as she knew the way. This didn’t stop her going the wrong way within 50m of leaving the car park. [outrageous fibbing, I was just checking the map – Peri] Fortunately, the others had spotted the huge well-trodden motorway leading up the hillside to the right. Real alpine feel on top and Andrew even got to wear his new crampons on the way down (once he’d worked out that they attached to his boots points down).

The Old Man of Lochnagar

Bunkhouse – smart, but rather small kitchen for the number of people. Interesting cooking lesson from two Spanish guys attempting to cook minute steaks: ‘Place steaks in pan and turn burner full on. Allow the room to fill with smoke to create that genuine campfire atmosphere. You know the steaks are ready when the fire alarm rings. (For well done, leave a further 15 mins) ’"

Other people:

*Rich and Jen went cragging twice, but only remembered their harnesses once.

*Debra and Simon went munro ticking and collected the usual number of wildlife shots. Debra reports "We were practically tripping over the [mountain] hares on Sunday – they were everywhere.". They also think they saw wildcat footprints in the snow, but do not mention whether this was before or after the pub.

Debra's photos here

My photos here