Friday, 13 April 2018

WILDLIFE & PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

Not much in the way of views todays

Female ptarmigan
Mountain Hare
Male ptarmigan
Hare on snow
Hare on the go
Female ptarmigan going into Spring plumage
Yesterday's glorious weather conditions of bright sun and clear skies was replaced by low cloud and drizzle this morning. What a contrast. Not the best of days for wildlife photography. But that's how the cookie crumbles in the mountains. Today I was providing a wildlife and photography workshop for David. He was keen to capture the ptarmigan in The Cairngorms as well as any other of our wonderful wildlife. So we set off early doors in very low cloud and some fine drizzle. It was deserted in Coire an t-Sneachda. Before we got into the coire proper we encountered lots of mountain hare.A great start to the day. It was very dreich by the time we got to the moraines, the rain came on and the clag was in. Couldn't see any of the big crags but plenty of ptarmigan. Late morning we contoured round into Coire an Lochain. More hares, more ptarmigan so David a happy chappie. It did brighten up on the walk back down the hill. We ended the day looking for the Ring Ouzel which has just arrived back in the area. Great day out and David managed to get some good images. Me too.
My photography and wildlife trips are gaining popularity this year. If you love combining a walk amidst grand mountain scenery along with photography and unique wildlife then why not get in touch. Spring is here and a brilliant time for it.
David in action

Thursday, 12 April 2018

POINT FIVE GULLY

Point Five Gully, Alpine 
Lenticular cloud above our gully 
Loch Avon next, fabulous 
Hell's Lum 
Up again 
Coire an t-Sneachda, busiest place today
Cornices collapsing
Happy chappies 
Fabulous 
With an uncertain weather forecast for the Cairngorms today,  it turned out to be wall to wall sun. Harvey out with me today. He has been out with me several times over the years. His only criteria on this visit was snow and sun and mountain fun. We looked at heading NW where sun seemed to be certain. Instead we ended up in The Cairngorms. Unbelievably quiet in Coire an t-Sneachda this morning, just two folk. We headed up Point Five Gully.  This fab wee Route is well snowed up and will be for some time yet. We managed to get on it before the warm sun softened it up. Fabulous Alpine conditions.  Sheltered from the strong SE winds, it was hot! After lunch we headed down to Loch Avon.  Brilliant snow cover from plateau,  over the Feithe Buidhe slabs. Stunning views. In the afternoon we climbed back up to the plateau and down from Windy Col.  Plenty of cornices slumped and collapsing in the warm temperatures but we gave a wide berth.  Amazing day and brilliant company.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

SUMMER SNOW

The cliffs of Coire an Lochain 
Avalanche debris in the coire

Great views on top
Beautiful day 
No one climbing today 
Braeriach 
Icebergs from the Lochan 
Mountain Hare's on the change
Film crew in The Cairngorms again?
It seemed like we missed out Spring and straight into summer today. Warm sun, blue skies, no wind. It was a glorious day to be out on the hills. Quickly down to T-shirt layering today. I think it was the first time no hats or gloves were required on the tops. There has been some recent avalanche activity, very noticeable in Coire an Lochain. The Crown Wall is high up to the right of the main crags. A few icebergs pushed out of the lochan from the force of the debris on the crag side of the lochan. This is quite normal this time of year. Lots of deep snow, warm temperatures. The force of te avalnche had also made a beautiful snow slope, it was like neve up toward the slab. The 'big one' is always worth waiting for. The avalanche debris when The Great Slab goes is always impressive. It was simply a glorious day to be out, quiet too. No crampons required in the sft snow. There has been some snow loss below 900m and much of the northern corries path is now free of snow.  It seemed like everyone was milling about in the streets of Aviemore today, very strange. Get out there!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

RUNNING & BIKING THE BURMA ROAD

Karen running the Burma Road 
Hare waiting to cross the road
Mountain Hare on the Burma Road 
Biking the Burma Road 
Hare & Bike
Milder temperatures the last couple of days. It almost feel like Spring in the Strath. The snow.lower down the hills is beginning to recede but it's still very much winter conditions up on the higher mountains. Today Karen and I had a jaunt up on the Burma Road.  Karen running whilst I was on the bike. There's still some small patches of snow near the top of the Pass, previous late winter there has been a lot more. An indication that this winter hasn't been that severe? It was lovely and peaceful,  only two folk seen all day. More wildlife with the first Skylark and a curlew. I spent a few minutes photographing a lazy Mountain Hare on the track. Shame I only had my mobile phone camera.  He sat and posed less than 4 metres away. The Burma Road is a great route with fabulous views of the Northern Cairngorms. It's a still pull up,unrelentless, but with a great run down to the River Dulnain. 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

FOR ONE DAY ONLY

Simon on the Fiacaill 
Coire an t-Sneachda 
Fresh snow at all levels
Full snow cover on the plateau 
Sun breaking through 
Cloud lifting just in time for the views
Cairn Gorm from  top of Alladin's Couloir 
Carn Etchachan & Ben Macdui
Fiacaill Coire Sneachda 
Clear skies after the snow showers
It has been almost constant snowfall on the Cairngorms and much of the Highlands the last two or three days. We have had snow down to Aviemore level most of this period. Some strong winds and very poor visibility up high. So today was to be the best weather day of the week. It goes without saying that the Avalanche risk has rise on many aspects with heavy drifts and big volumes of fresh snow. No melt/ freeze cycles in this period. Trail breaking into Coire an t-Sneachda this morning wasn't as bad as expected. There had been one or two folk out in front but it seemed very quiet considering it's still Easter holidays. Of course ridges are always the best choice in these conditions. Once on the foot of the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda it was much easier going. The ridge was wind scoured with the old frozen snow exposed. Above 900m we were in the cloud. Then around mid-day we received a 30 minute snow shower. It didn't look like we were going to get our views today. Of course the weather in the mountains can change dramatically, within minutes the cloud lifted and we got some sun. The ridge was deserted so breaking trail on some of the sections. Massive build up of deep snow on the Western slopes below the crest . Up on the plateau and it's full winter cover. Some deep drifts here too. The last few weeks I've been descending from the Fiacaill Coire Cas ridge back into the Northern Corries path via it's Western slopes. There is so much snow here this winter and a very easy descent,  avoiding all the busy skiing area. By mid afternoon the sun was in full Force and a beautiful end to the day. Apparently it's going to be more like Spring temperatures next week.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

EASTER BELTER

The finest view in the Cairngorms, probably. 
Fiacaill Coire Sneachda 
Perfect conditions 
Still brilliant snow cover on the ridges
Hell's Lum cornice 
Droopy cornices 
Fiacaill Buttress & top of Goat Track 
Quiet on the ridge
Great snow cover on the plateau 
Sneachda quiet
Cairn Gorm not so quiet
Alpine
We move into April and this long, brilliant winter continues with no let up. Cold, sub zero temperatures at Aviemore this morning . Wonderful clear skies. Full snow cover to 600m. Who could ask for anymore?
Jo was out with me  and what a belter of a day she chose. Originally she had booked to go out way back in January, unfortunately she had to cancel her day on the CMD arete. She rescheduled to today and it couldn't be a more perfect day. Jo has previously been out on a two day course with me a few years ago. An adventurous day was what she was looking for. A traverse of the Fiacaill Coire Sneachda it was. This must be about the 30th occasion I've been on the ridge this winter. Yes, it is that good! It Seemed very quiet this morning on the hill. Not that many folk heading into Sneachda on a Easter Day and beautiful weather. The ridge itself was very quiet too, with just two folk in front of us. Jo loved the exciting mountaineering along the ridge, plenty of excellent, hard snow still with some fresh snow from the last couple of days. We reached the plateau in fine time and headed over to the top of Hell's Lum for lunch and the finest view in the Cairngorms. In the afternoon we wandered across the plateau and up to Cairn Gorm to add another Munro to Jo's tally.
A brilliant day to be out on the hills. Hope you made the most of it as some more winter weather arrives again tomorrow.  Looking like full winter conditions will continue for some time.