Sunday, 26 March 2017


Leo & Sophie, Alpine snow up by the Fiacaill Buttress

Approaching the Fiacaill of Sneachda

Hot in the corrie!

Summer rock!

Fiacaill Buttress, Coire an t-Sneachda

Fiacaill of Coire Snehda

Cooling off in the Snowholes

More Fiacaill Fun

Descending The Goat Track

Cairngorm plateau, Coire Domhain

Goat Track

Summer down at Loch Avon

T shirt weather on the tops

The Fiacaill Ridge to ourselves again
Afternoon heat in Sneachda
Another cracking Alpine day again in The Cairngorms. The overnight, cold temperatures snow had frozen up the snow in the Northern Corries. It was wall to wall sun and no wind. Final winter course this season for Tarmachan Mountaineering and what a way to finish!  Sophie joined Leo and I today and we had a fabulous time and a good journey on snow and rock. We headed into a quiet Coire an t-Sneachda. Donned the crampons and made our way out of the corrie and onto the Fiacaill of Coire Sneachda ridge. Here we were on dry rock and scrambling in the hot sun! Just wonderful. On the plateau and the temperatures rose in the reflective sun. W had a wander over to the Loch Avon area before heading back across the plateau and descending The Goat Track. It's steep and frozen high up so great for a final finale on crampons. Absolutely brilliant couple of days. Thanks to Leo and Sophie for a cracking couple of days. Maybe winter hasn't quite finished!

Saturday, 25 March 2017


Leo all smiles, Coire an Lochain

Below The Vent
The Couloir

How long will the ice last?

The Great Slab, Coire an Lochain

In the sun, Alpine

Leo taking the lead

Hot on Cairn Lochan

Coire an Lochain, deserted again

Alpine style

Step cutting, Coire an Lochain
Wow, what a day! Temperatures were up and the snow was frozen hard, The Alps had moved to The Cairngorms. Leo had originally booked a two day course with me way back in mid December last year. There was not a single patch of snow during that period. The only course of the entire winter season I had to cancel because of lack of snow. So he resceduled it to this weekend. Well I think his wait for better conditions had well and truly paid off! We set off in warmth and headed into a deserted Coire an Lochain. We had the whole place to ourselves, bar two folk climbing well in front of us. Where were all the outdoor folk on a day like today! The snow was absolutely perfect for some cramponing technique. We worked our way up the corrie beside The Great Slab. The Couloir looked like a good bet today with no cornice problems just now, a good choice if you're thinking of climbing anything over this warm period. Leo was smiling all day and couldn't believe his luck at the Alpine conditions we had. We went up, across and down the corrie, then across the large shelf and traversed out  to gain the plateau, finally hitting the heat of the sun! What a heat! It felt like summer on the tops. Brilliant day and more tomorrow. Can't wait!

Friday, 24 March 2017


Ben & George high up below the Fiacaill Buttress

Fiacaill of Coire Sneachda

Alpine style ridge

Fiacaill to ourselves today

It's a long drop down Hells Lum!

Reasonable snow cover on the plateau

Feith Buidhe

Loch Avon

Coire an t-Sneachda

Sneachda from Cairn Gorm

A great couple of days with these guys
The temperatures were up a notch and more hazy sunshine today. George & Ben out with me for day two of their adventure in the Cairngorms. We had a brilliant day, covering lots of axe, crampon and movement on steep ground. We headed into Coire an t-Sneachda, soon leaving the crowds (well, 10 folk or so) and heading onto the Fiacaill of Coire Sneachda. Great snow cover in the coire below the buttress as we worked our way over to the ridge. We had the whole ridge to ourselves, apart from the many beautiful snow buntings which were singing way all day. The snow had firmed up slightly on the ridge and was good fun. We headed across a snowy Cairngorm plateau and had lunch over by Hells Lum, for the views of course. After food the guys navigated their way across to Cairn Gorm. The snow had softened up across the plateau, we linked all the big areas of snow up by taking a nice route over on the south side off Cairn Gorm. Down Windy Ridge to end a fab couple of days and not a single ice axe arrest in sight, winter skills isn't all about sliding down mountains! :)

Thursday, 23 March 2017


Ben & George, Coire an Lochain ice

Great snow/ice for step cutting

High up in Coire an Lochain

The cliffs of Coire an Lochain, deserted

Sun and snow in Coire an Lochain

Lots of photogenic snow buntings around

Axe arresting

Step cutting technique getting good
Reasonable snow cover on Cairngorm plateau
Hard snow/ice, no wind, sunshine and great company. What more could you ask for for a day out in the Scottish winter mountains? March and winter came good at last. Today the old, wind scoured snow was fabulous for cramponing and some step cutting earlier in the day. Not a breath of wind in Coire an Lochain and later on on the Cairngorm plateau. Ben and George are out with me for a couple of days to get some vital skills on snow and ice. Completely new to this they just loved the setting below the cliff of Cairn Lochan. The sun was out over Strathspey and blue skies above. The Northern Corries still don't receive any warmth of the sun even in late March. Apart from 3 climbers over toward The Vent, we had the whole corrie to ourselves. Most winter instructors south of the border have now gone home and it's a fabulous time to be out on the hills if you love peace and quiet. We had a great journey in the corrie, traversing out onto the plateau where we had a picnic lunch in the sunshine. The temperature went up slightly during the afternoon with some high cloud cover. We finished off the afternoon with a stroll over the plateau and descended into Coire Cas. Great day out, more of the same kind of weather tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Fiacaill of Sneachda

Icy walk in to Coire an Lochain

Fresh wind slab

Ice & frozen turf


Wind slab on East aspects

Coire an t-Sneachda

Fiacaill Buttress
More snow fall on gale force winds again today. The snow showers were frequent but mainly light. The best of any bright skies were at the start and at the end of the day. It was quiet on the hill today, very few folk around now. It's a great time to be out, long days, snow and some great light when the sun appears! A quick romp over the Fiacaill a Choire Sneachda today. The gale force winds blowing right across the ridge line, great fun. Big areas of old snow now frozen hard and wind scoured. Fresh wind slab, especially on E & NE aspects. Some ice has formed in places. A very wintry day with snow being blown around everywhere and goggles were definitely an asset! Much quieter day tomorrow and the weekend looks like it could be a lovely sunny time. Don't forget the shades and sunscreen!