Meeting the RAF boys and A limited time but the wander into the winter wonderland of the Coire of the Snows was incredible. Please be aware of the Avalanche Reports!

Yesterday was catching up and then a quick wander into the Cairngorms to see if we could catch up with the RAF Winter Course. We did not leave till after 1300 but in my good mate Dan’s car we were soon at the busy Cairngorm car park it was a blue sky afternoon. The last miles from Glenmore with the trees, blue sky and the snow make the heart warm.We walked in Coire an’t Sneachda a trek we no well with countless days spent here. Toady it was a light weight bag just the basics and it was stunning. No rushing in the place was so quite away from the ski area and plastered with snow. The joy of getting old there is no rush and you see so much more.

Dan taking it easy.

The walk in was a well trodden path but we had heard of a huge avalanche in the main Coire through the SAIS Avalanche forecast it was one of the biggest for years. It is massive and thank God it occurred a few nights ago and no walkers were out. The scale is incredible.

Crown wall March Photo SAIS.

We had a magic walk the wind was on the summits with spin-drift devils high on the ridge in the odd gust high up. This was a winter wonderland and yet the main climbing area had no one climbing due to the considerable avalanche risk but on the safer area there was some climbers enjoying a special day.  look

Crown Wall look near the top !

We had a great catch up and met the Winter Course after a days climbing we caught up with Willie Mac a real laugh. They had just climbed Invernookie on the last day of the course. Willie was tired after a weeks climbing and I had memories of 7 days on the hills climbing knocks it out of you.  The big bag and the long days varying weather take their toll. Willie was loving it and coming from the Islands was in great form. I had taken him out in the 80’s on one of his first weekends on Castle Ridge. He is now the main man with the RAF Mountain Rescue and we had some great days all over the world.

Dan and Willie both on Everest in 2001 great pals enjoying the weather.

We left Willie after a bleather and headed up into the Coire we were pulled to looking at the avalanche it was amazing the scale of the Crown Wall was huge. With the blue sky and the spin drift high up and the warmth of the sun it was magical. The gullies were plastered the snow shinning this was as perfect as it gets. We sat and drunk it in, not worrying that we had no climb or summit today just a good chat and meeting mates. There were a few groups descending including the RAF MR group all heading down after an amazing day in these mountains.

Stunning Day.

It was soon time to wander of and we met a group heading off from the Dublin and Wicklow MRT who had a great day as well. It was back to the car park, the noise and the busyness but so many had a great day skis. I met Babs who had a magical day on the slopes and was buzzing. We headed off for a meal and met Ray Sefton (Sunshine)in the pub for a quick drink. Ray  Sunshine was one of my early teal leaders and a guru of the Cairngorms. We got all the update on all things Cairngorm!

Ray and Dan.

It was then over to Badaguish where the RAF Winter Course was to meet Rusty Bale who was instructing on the Course. Rusty was Dan’s climbing partner on Everest and we had a great catch up. Rusty has his own mountaineering business in Wales #snowdoniawalking climbing and I known him since he was a bairn in the team.  He is still the same cheeky guy that I know from all those years ago and was in fine form, even sporting glasses now to look like his hero “me”. You need a few more pounds on Rusty.


2001 Everest Rusty On Top.

The RAF MRT were in fine form and all had a great course I could see that by the tired faces, we in the past would have been down to Aviemore for a celebration but these different times. I also shared Willie, Jockie and Ed’s joy that the Course was over and it had gone safely, the number one achievement and skills had been passed on for the future. They all seemed happy after a great week I wonder if they all realise how lucky they are.

We did not at the time, enjoying the mountains when fit and strong is a memory that I cherish as does the companionship of those you meet on the hills. The progression to safe mountaineers is a great joy and to see how far so many have come over the years is heart warming.

Dan and Rusty 2018

They had reports to do so we headed of a great day and met so many folk that are important in life. We had a laugh and all that was left was the white knuckle ride home in Dan’s motor. I am so glad we went we nearly did not go but time is irrelevant a few hours in a place that is special with folk that mean so much is worthwhile.


Now let’s get out on the bike today? Have I caught the bug. If going out on the hills read the avalanche hazard and weather forecasts they are there to guide you and advise.



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, Himalayas/ Everest, History, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Meeting the RAF boys and A limited time but the wander into the winter wonderland of the Coire of the Snows was incredible. Please be aware of the Avalanche Reports!

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