A cold day on the Cairngorms. You need all the gear just now!

After my great day on Saturday up North I was pretty tired and was hoping going to try to catch up with two pals who had planned to climb in the Cairngorms. They were leaving early and I hoped to catch them as they got to the top of their climb, but I had a great drive over the Dava Moor and the cloudy Cairngorms.  It was to be a slow start for me and I met three other pals for a coffee at the Active Cafe in Aviemore, They were heading for the lovely viewpoint of Meall A Bhuachaille at Glenmore that was shinning in the winter sun.


The view of the Wee Bhuachaille in the sun.

I left them for my drive to the lower car park on Cairngorm that was very busy with skiers and walkers. This was a big change from yesterdays solace on An Teallach. It was bitter cold and a wind that cut through you like a knife, maybe I was still feeling effects of the cold but I really put on plenty layers and started off up. We had planned to meet at a newish crag: Creagan Coire Cha-no –  that overlooks Strath Nethy . This small east-facing winter crag was developed in the 2010/11 season, and has around 30 routes to date. Its short approach (less than one hour from Coire na Ciste car park) will probably ensure popularity for years to come. It always takes me much longer though! It would be a short but interesting walk onto the crag and it looked pretty typical Cairngorm weather today and would blow the cobwebs away.

A bit windy and cols a typical winters day.

A bit windy and cold a typical winters day.

The path was busy with a big crowd from Glenmore Lodge and other groups, making the trail and there were plenty of ski mountaineers about. I had my big gloves on and a face mask it was bitter cold (I am getting old) and many had goggles on from the car park. I texted my pals before I left to see where they were and soon was heading up the hill. It is a lovely wander and apart from all the people but it can be a great introduction onto the Cairngorms and you gain height even in the heavy snow in places. I stopped often and enjoyed the views and was envious of Meall A Bhuachaille in the sun and love to see the spindrift serpents blow across the hill. The groups ahead had stopped and were learning the winter secrets that the Cairngorms can show. They were in huddles trying to listen into the wind to the words of wisdom by their instructors.

Grabbing a break out of the weather in a shelter.

Grabbing a break out of the weather in a shelter.

It was good to get out of the wind at times and I watched the groups put up their shelters for a break as they got higher and just before the open ground and no break from the wind blasted by snow before the plateau. I had no news from my mates and headed into the wind and the plateau and lost the views in the spindrift. I was now on my own three ski mountaineers were ahead but vanished into the weather. It was good to be on my own and plodding on at my own pace and getting a bit battered by the wind and spindrift. How different from yesterday the vagaries of Scottish winter,

The vastness of the Cairngorms.

The vastness of the Cairngorms. In the white room again.

I headed on to the top of the crags it took me over an hour and a half and then sent another message to my pals to ask what route they were on. It was a typical winters day on top a bit blowy and spindrift normal winter Cairngorm   weather. I got a message saying that my pals  were in Aviemore and had a windy walk in to the cliff ( not the one I was on and binned it)  They were safe in a cafe ( Big Kevs in Aviemore) whilst I had my wander. Such is life and I decide enough was enough and wandered back down.

The Weather getting better as I dropped down.

The Weather getting better as I dropped down. People still heading up for a winter’s day.

I was soon back down at the car park and then headed home, the spindrift was everywhere as I took some layers off and the face was a bit blasted. The car park was busy with the sun out and so many having fun but still very cold. On the way home I heard the sad news of the two climbers were killed winter climbing in Glencoe a tragic end to the winter weekend and my thoughts are with the families and those involved.

Some of the media have started and the usual poor reporting by some papers has begun, the stupid comments that a few vent are not what the grieving  families need at this time.

Take care out there.





About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Avalanche info, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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