Monday, 30 November 2015

FULL WINTER EXPERIENCE ON FIACAILL RIDGE

Fiacaill Butress
Iced ridge
Water ice, frozen turf. all good!
Fiacaill Ridge in profile
Windy up here
Late afternoon on Meall a' Bhuachaille
The ptarmigan are almost white
Hard going lower down in the drifts

Fiacaill Ridge and Cairngorm plateau

More ice

Interesting to see more snowcover on Meall a' Bhuachaille than the plateau!

Coire an t-sneachda
Cold temperatures and some more snowfall overnight to low levels. Today was dry in The Cairngorms. A cold 40mph wind on the tops. It took me double the time I would normally take to get to the foot of the Fiacaill Ridge. The drifts were knee deep in places. That's fine by me, I enjoy a good work out early in the season to get winter fit :)  The ridges and plateau are quite bare of snow with the high winds and cold temperatures. I went on the eastern side of the Fiacaill where the ground was well frozen and lots of wonderful ice. A great mix of rime, water ice, frozen turf and some frozen snow. Pretty cold and windy on the plateau. Coire an t-sneacha was looking bare with the snow blown off, Coire an Lochain looked much snowier. All this will change rapidly again over the next 24 hours with more snowfall then a rapid rise in temperature tomorrow afternoon. Wednesday looks like the temperatures will lower again. An unsettled spell but giving great early winter conditions. It is after all only November.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

BIG SNOWFALL ACROSS THE HIGHLANDS

Stunning scenery in the Glenmore Forest
The best view we got on Meall a' Bhuachaille
The Northern Cairngorms clear for a spell late afternnon
Beautiful forest scenery
Sunshine for a wee while
A different story on the summit
You can't have enough of this surely?
Here's the sun
Rime ice higher up, summit cairn Meall a' Bhuachaille
A decent dump of snow overnight had transformed the Cairngorms again. With a good coating of snow to low levels this morning. We had a great day up on Meall a' Bhuachaille. This is a great wee hill and is best enjoyed by doing a traverse walk which takes you through the beautiful Glenmore Forest and Ryvoan. It was even more spectacular with the trees all snowed up and looking stunning. There was very low cloud earlier in the day and you couldn't even see the hill from just out of the tree line. A gentle wind soon picked up, as always, just before the summit cairn. Poor visibility until we got down to Ryvoan and the clouds lifted to reveal the Cairngorms for an hour or so, we even got a few glimpses of sunshine to lighten up the snow covered trees. It started to snow heavily again by dusk. It seems that the Southern  and western Highlands had even more snow than up in The Cairngorms. Looking good and temperatures staying low.

video

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

MOUNTAIN PATH AWARENESS & BEN NEVIS

The NE Buttress on Ben Nevis
The team of outdoor leaders with Dougie
Dougie imparting his knowledge
Lifting rocks, expensive
Google the website on the side of the bus
Several mountain path users
More rock lifting against a wintery Carn Dearg
I had an interesting day out with Dougie, the Footpath Officer from  Nevis Landscape Partnership today. Along with several other outdoor instructors and leaders we were on a workshop to learn more about footpath construction, maintenance and the erosion created by thousands of boots and water damage. The day was also aimed at what we, as leaders, can do to pass on our knowledge to the folk we take out walking and climbing. We headed up the path alongside the Allt a' Mhuillin and  up to the CIC Hut. Despite over £100,000 spent on this  7 years ago, the path needs some attention already. The Fiends of Nevis  run volunteer days throughout the year if you feel you would like to help out. During the day we could see and hear the helicopter shuttling bags of rocks from one part of the mountain over to the lower section of the Mountain Path. This is major work being done over the winter months and will last two years, costing £1 million. They are asking folk to choose a different route up the mountain during this period as this section of path is quite narrow and awkward to get around whilst work is in progress. Despite the warm temperatures there is still snow down to 800m. We ad a dry day despite rain being forecasted. Big thanks to Dougie for a really informative day.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

HELLO WINTER, NORTHERN CORRIES

Summit of Cairn Lochan
Cairn Lochan looking west
Cairn Gorm and Coire an t-sneachda
Great light, snow and company
Crags well rimed
Fiacaill Ridge
Complete snow cover on the plateaux
Braeriach coming out of the cloud
Coire an t-sneachda
Coire an Lochain
Fingers ridge
The much heralded and anticipated dump of snow and colder winds well and truly arrived over the weekend. With snow falling to glen levels through much of the Highlands over Friday & Saturday. We had a great day out on the Northern Corries today. A lot of low level cloud this morning, so we set off late morning and the forecast was spot on, cloud lifting and breaking. We timed it perfectly, just arriving on the top of Cairn Lochan as the tops became cloud free. Despite the strong winds, I was surprised at the full snow cover all across the plateau. A great mixture of deep powder and rime ice on the rocks. The corries looking superb with their rime encrusted snow. There was only a very light breeze today, even so it was a very cold one. Full winter gear a must. Going a bit milder tomorrow but cold again over Tuesday & Wednesday, all good news to get some fantastic snow conditions. Winter has definitely arrived in the Cairngorms, indeed across many mountain areas.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

GETTING COLDER, COIRE AN LOCHAIN AGAIN

Top section of great slab now with snow/ice cover

The lochans
Getting more like winter
5 Mountain Hare spotted  today but still no decent photo
Coire an Lochain and a bit of sun
Gret Slab icing up nicely
Getting thicker
Another slightly colder day and mainly dry. The much colder air mass will be over us by tomorrow coupled with some winter showers to low levels. Had another foray into Coire an Lochain today. Plenty of wildlife on the way up with 5 Mountain Hare and lots of ptarmigan as usual. Went over to the eastern side of the coire which gives a fine views down onto the Great Slab in the centre of the coire. A bit more ice building up and the crags seemed a bit icier today. A few snow showers above 1000m.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

COIRE AN LOCHAIN ICE

First proper ice this season
Overnight melt/freeze
The Great Slab, Coire an Lochain
Not so windy for our ptarmigan today
Coire an Lochain
Iced up slabs
Plenty of hard snow at the top of the Twin Burns
Coire an lochain
Some overnight Melt/Freeze cycle on the hills and the snow is consolidating. Up in Coire an Lochain today I had the pleasure of experiencing the first proper ice in any quantity this season. It was axe & crampons all the way up from the lochan to the plateau. The area between the main climbing crags and the Twin Burns was the best. With some large areas of iced up rocks & turf. The higher section 50m from the plateau was superb with hard refrozen snow or neve whichever you prefer! There was only a 'Cairngorm Breeze' on the tops after overnight storms. More high winds coupled with some more fresh snow over the next few days so the hills should be even more wintry! A great start to the season, lets hope it continues. Full winter kit carried the last few days. Winter has definitely arrived.

video