Thursday, 16 November 2017

SUNSET & FRESH SNOW

Sunset over Loch Morlich
Fresh snow, Northern Cairngorms
A dusting of snow on Meall a' Bhuachaille
Meall a; Bhuachaille's shadow over Abernethy Forest
Bynack Mor, Cairn Gorm and Sneachda
Strathspey from the top
Another one!
One of the most wonderful aspects of living in the Highlands is the ease of leaving the house and being at the top of a hill in just a couple of hours. From Aviemore I can cycle off road virtually from my doorstep, along lovely forest trails and then a quick walk up to the summit of a Corbett. Today I left at 1pm from the house and was on the top of Meall' a Bhuachaille to watch a wonderful sunset over Loch Morlich and a grand stand view of The Northern Cairngorms. I even got to see an Golden Eagle on the way up the hill. There has been another sprinkling of snow over the mountains. There was a dusting on the last 100m of Meall a' Bhuachaille today. Whilst waiting for the sun to set the temperatures dropped like a rock and there was a biting, cold wind. Fabulous.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

WHAT'S LEFT OF THE SNOW

Coire an Lochain
Female ptarmigan
Some ice left

The Couloir, Coire an Lochain
Ptarmigan looking for the snow
In less than 24 hours the drifts and low level snow on Braeriach had been completely stripped in the warmer temperatures of Tuesday. Today I took a wander up into the Northern Corries to see what was left of the snow. Not a lot. At least the temperatures have come down again and it was below freezing overnight. There is some ice on some of the crags. Any remnants of snow is actually firm and crunchy. A good, cold base for the snow that is coming our way again tomorrow and Friday. Don't forget it is only mid November so plenty of time for proper winter to return. The ptarmigan were making me work hard for photographs today. Now they are almost in their winter plumage they were obviously settling into any snow that is left. A pleasant day to be out. Dry and only a light breeze up high.

Monday, 13 November 2017

WINTER DAY ON BRAERIACH

Andrew enjoying winter on Braeriach
Biking in the snow
Wind and snow
The joys of winter walking
Braeriach summit success!
Cornices and rime on Braeriach's gullies
Lairig Ghru
Lurchers Crag
For the first time this season we had snow down to Aviemore level and sub zero temperatures outside the house. Well timed for return client Andrew and his winter day out on Braeriach! Andrew has been out with me several times and we've had some great days and big days out. For today's outing he talked his brother, William, into having a taste of winter Munro walking too. This was William's first time out in winter.If you're going to start winter walking then what finer place to start than on Braeriach. The third highest summit in the UK and one of the remotest Munros. Throw in some wild winter weather and you have the makings of a grand day out hillwalking! We biked in to the Lairig Ghru from the house this morning. Just has we saddled up the snow started falling in the streets of Aviemore. It continued snowing steadily for much of the day. It was relatively calm and good visibility in the lower reaches of the Lairig Ghru. Once we got higher up on the long, featureless Sron na Lairig ridge the weather closed in and the visibility disappeared. The map and compass came out and shotly after the ski goggles were on. It was gusting above 50mph above 1000m and some drifting snow made some tough walking conditions. The guys did a brilliant job and we reached the summit 5 hours after leaving Aviemore. Winter walking isn't all about ice axes and crampons. Today's skills were perseverance, stamina, good clothing, good navigation and good humour! Winter is here!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

NORTHERN CORRIES, COLDER, SNOWIER

Gullies filling up, Coire an Lochain
Coire an Lochain
Sub zero temperatures again
Rime ice
Fun way out of the corrie
Skies cleared late afternoon
The temperatures have remained well below freezing on the summits the last few days. Yesterday we had some more snow falling to lower levels. A wander around the Northern Corries today. Fun way out of Cooire an Lochain via the crags over on the West side where there was some ice but not in quantity. The tops were shrouded in cloud by mid day. High windchill and lots of rime ice over the rocks. First major snowfall over in The Cairngorms forecasted tonight and most of tomorrow so things shaping up nicely.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

ICE AXE & CRAMPONS, COLD & WIND

Fiacaill 'a Coire An t- Sneachda
Fiacaill Buttress
Calm (ish) on the ridge this morning
Dawn and moon
Cold morning
Cornices forming, Cairn Lochan
High winds, windblown snow by mid day
It was -3 C in Aviemore this morning. A clear night with temperatures dropping again. Up on the Cairngorms it was maybe colder. A lovely early morning start before the next Atlantic weather front arrived later in the day. I took a wander up into Coire an t-Sneachda. There were a few climbers heading up on Alladins Buttress. I headed below the Fiacaill Buttress and onto the Fiacaill An Coire Sneachda ridge. There are some that say that winter hillwalking soon becomes mountaineering as soon as the ice axe and crampons comes out to play. Today then must have been a mountaineering day then as they were out for the ascent up the coire and along the ridge. First time this season for the ironmongery. There wasn't much ice about but any bare ground was frozen, no rime on the rocks. By 10am the wind had already picked up and by the time I got off the ridge and on the plateau it had increased to around 50mph. Lots of snow being blown into the corries, quite atmospheric. Cornices were starting to form in the gullies on Cairn Lochan. By the time I headed down the hill the wind seemed to have increased further. Nice winter morning foray and great to see real winter conditions.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

MORE SNOW, BEN MACDUI

Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochan Uaine & Braeriach
Cairn Gorm from Sneachda
Loch Avon Basin
Cairn Gorm rom Macdui
Coire Domhain
Lairig Ghru & Braeriach plateau
Ben Macdui & Cairngorm plateau
Coire an Lchain
Dusk, Loch Morlich
Coire Bhrochain, Braeriach
Another dusting of overnight snow across the Highlands. The Northern and Eastern Cairngorms have fresh snow down to about 800m this morning. It was well below freezing on the tops. I took a wander up to Ben Macdui. The weather front from last night had quickly passed through by this morning and by the time I reached the plateau the tops were clear and some blue skies on the horizon to the west. Timed nicely for the sun to break through as I reached the summit of Ben Macdui. Not as windy as previous days so very pleasant on the tops. The view from just west of Ben Macdui's summit is one of the finest in The Cairngorms. The Cairn Toul - Braeriach plateau and Lairig Ghru set out before you in a massive area. In the afternoon I headed back via the lip of the Loch Avon Basin and then The Northern Corries. There seems to be more snow here than over in the corries of Breariach. The snow, of course, isn't consolidated and quite soft in most places. There is some ice on north aspects and some frozen ground. Beautiful late afternoon light as the sun broke through the clouds again and a fab sunset.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

WINTER HAS ARRIVED

Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui

Northern Corries

Beinn Mheadhoin

Coire Raibert

Beinn Mheadoin and Loch Avon

Loch Avon, Ben Macdui

Cain Gorm

Cairn Gorm plateau
 Temperatures dropped again overnight along with more snow showers. This morning there was a few more cm's on the Cairngorm Mountains. More snow fell over on the west coast hills by the looks of it. Karen and I had a wee afternoon wander up Windy Rige and onto Cairn Gorm summit. High windchill on the tops. The cloud broke up in the afternoon and some nice views. We escaped the crowds on Cairn Gorm and headed down toward Loch Avon. Lovely late afternoon light. It really felt like a winter day today. Frozen ground, rime ice, snow down to 700m and a cold wind. Brilliant! Looks like a bit milder tomorrow but snow showers forecast through out next week. Bring it on!