I had been on the West Coast visiting a good friend who is recovering from an operation and the weather was poor most of the time thick mist and heavy rain. I managed to get out for a few hours and visit a couple of old pals, It was amazing how the weather changes on the West so quickly and yesterday the gritters were out and the hills a covering of fresh snow. There was a bit of Black ice about and I left after 0900 in daylight and had a good drive along the Laggan road past all the snow-covered hills. I stopped at Newtonmore to visit Helen and Laurry always a laugh and the Laurry tried to show me his new boat but it was so covered in verglas (black ice) I declined climbing up the rickety ladder. It was then up to Glenmore Lodge to give some details on my lecture in the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore with Heather Morning the Mountain Safety Officer it is always a great night for the lecture sponsored by Munro Society in February.
|Location:||The Mountain Cafe, 111 Grampian Road, Aviemore, PH22 1RH|
|Start Date/Time:||Wednesday 10th February 2016, 20:00:00|
The MCofS has teamed up with the Mountain Cafe, Aviemore and the Munro Society to offer you a fascinating insight into Scotland’s mountains in winter and some essential safety advice for heading into the hills at this time of year.
“In this free lecture Heavy Whalley, a legendary ‘character’ who for many years was intensely involved in RAF Mountain Rescue, and is an acknowledged expert in the field, will share his photos, personal anecdotes and adventures.
The lecture will focus on essential skills for folk heading out into the Scottish winter mountains, including navigation, avalanche awareness, route choice, equipment, weather and much more. ” Sponsored by the Munro Society
Booking essential on 01479 812473 – pre-lecture meals available (£12), meals will be served at 7pm.#
The hills were looking a bit wild with much of the snow gone after the thaw in a grey December Sky but there still was some snow. Time was moving on but I needed a short walk and I love Coire an Lochain in the Cairngorms it is never busy once you leave the path and has an Alpine feel about it. It was cold at the car Park at Cairngorm and not that many cars about it looked like the lack of snow was keeping the stick men ( winter climbers) away. The Buttress were black but there were streaks on snow high up after the big thaw and the path was icy and just above freezing.
The car park is pretty high over 2000 feet and you get the feel of winter and I wrapped up and was met by some flowers on the path just away from the car park, should we leave them there any comments? The path and the snow was very icy and the path in places had ice-covered by snow and even low down you had to take care and watch your feet. This would not be easy walking in darkness when you cannot see the ice. It was great to be out and the new beard keeps the face warm and I met a couple coming of the hills and two others all dressed in black and looking like the SAS or some would be the military group . It is worth noting for the fashion conscious that Black is hard to spot on the hill , very handy if in the SAS but if you’re wanting help in a bad day it is hard to spot and also does not help the picture contrast. It is environmentally friendly though so it’s up to you?
It is still a lovely walk and the greyness makes it all seem so early winter all the time the huge cliffs of Lochain dominate as does the West ridge onto the plateau. In summer in spring this is a grand walk and full of wild life today I could hear the ptarmigan and saw a few scuttling about. I broke of the path below just before the river and headed into the corrie floor. It can be wet here but I kept to the West ridge side and away from the huge boulder field that I have searched on many times. Most of the rocks in the boulder field were covered in fine snow and verglas, not the place to be. The stream had the grass frozen beside of it and the ground was hard as iron in places. Once at the two lochans one was freezing over and the huge cliffs looking black and wild and a bitter wind. I spotted to climbers on a hard runnel of snow heading up to the far end of 4 buttress late in the day.
I watched them put on their crampons and head up and then vanish into the Buttress I also saw someone descending from near the classic climb Savage slit and sat and enjoyed a cup of tea by the boulder. After last year this was a lovely few hours on the mountains. I put on my crampons and climbed up onto the West ridge and then headed back down, it was good to check out the gear and the snow was very hard. No matter how often we use them the first time every winter is always interesting and the cold fingers reminded me of past days. It is an interesting area and one I used with the Mountain Rescue for winter skills ice axe and crampon techniques.
Time was moving on and I hate walking off in the dark so I set of down the snow again, good practice with the loch beckoning. It was only a wee bit but good to check the gear and sort out a few things. It was then back down crampons away and a wander down the path with the light on the Corbett Meall a’ Bhuachaille above Glenmore. I had a slip on the way down on a wee bit of snow had blown onto the path and covered the ice and down I went with a thud and a sore elbow! A reminder to take it easy on the way home and concentrate I met no one until at the car park. It was a short walk just over 2 hours but enjoyable to be in the mountains. I hope the pair on the climb late on adventure and their torches were in good order and had a safe evening. The mist was coming down as I arrived back, oh to be young again but so much better than this time last year.
Today’s tip – watch the paths they are icy!