Yesterday was the 30 th Anniversary of the Lockerbie Tragedy. I have written and thought about it a lot especially this year.This is a hard time for me and I find it best to handle it on the hills or wild places away from folk. I got so many kind messages thinking of me from team mates and friends thank you all.
Every anniversary is hard and decided not to go down to Lockerbie and sorry if I let a few folk down. To be honest this last week has been very hard with lots of media interest.
I wanted a day on my own on the hills and a few pals asked me if I wanted some company but today was when I wanted to be on my own. I left later than usual I have a snag with my eyes old age catching up. I am waiting to see a eye specialist (37 weeks away) I have cataracts that have got worse so once their fixed it will be a lot better. I left in daylight after a few media calls which I got out of and headed to the Cairngorms.
Loch Morlich Cairngorms.
The drive over was fine with good views and the roads were clear but care needed. Aviemore was busy as I passed through and popped in to see Mark Diggins who runs the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and had a catch up. They are in their 30 th year and it is amazing where they have come from after the early days in Glencoe when Hamish McInnes and the Glencoe School of Mountaineering started giving Avalanche warnings. Now it is Government funded and Mark and his team give great service throughout Scotland. I got a great update on conditions and though not a lot of snow there was a bit of verglas ( Black ice ) water ice and hard snow (neve ) in places.
A fair bit of ice about okay in the daylight and good weather but can be tricky when covered with a thin layer of snow.
I just wanted a short walk and to get high up and see the wildness of these hills away from the crowds. When I was ill for several years and was recovering from 4 operations I needed to sort my head out I would head to the lower Coire na Ciste Car Park. There is a great walk onto the plateau which is usually away from the crowds from the car park. Most will know that the Cairngorm Funicular railway has various problems and has been taken over by The Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Hopefully this will help get the problems sorted and the resorts skiing back to normal. The car park looked tidier and there were a few cars about. The weather was fine and clear with little wind.
It was ideal walking conditions I met an ex RAF Mountain Rescue Team Member in the car park Paul Wilson who works offshore we has a catch up and he was going to skin up onto the hill. It was good to see him. Paul was the last person I saw for over an hour.
I enjoy the short walk to crags there is a good path now and the views get better the higher you go. Once in the snow you head for the old snow fence and then onto the Eastern side of Cairngorm the cliffs of Creagan Cha – No .
This cliff overlooks Strath Nethy and is a small compact cliff recently “found “as a climbing venue but I had been here many years before in my youth. It is a grand wee cliff and has a real Mountain feel to it. As I approached the cliff I saw footprints and there were climbers just completing a climb.
Though I came for a quiet time we had a chat and they had just done Jenga Buttress and Anvil Gully and had a great day .
The views were stunning and this is some place I got a few photos had some food and they left after packing their gear. I had some time on my own watching the light change. There were so many footprints in the snow of the ptarmigan but no sign .
What a place to be
Time was moving on and I had to head back the light was changing it was cold but still little wind back avoiding the steep ground of Coire Loagh Mor. I slipped on some hidden water ice here hidden under the snow and hit a boulder how daft the light and my eye snag making the ground changes hard to spot. A bit of a batter on my ribs again and a wake up call when on your own. Ribs are a bit sore but worth a mention of my stupidity.
I took care descending lots of ice about and a bit shaken from my wee spill. I met my friend Paul in the car park he had fun on the skis. It was then visit Myrtle in Aviemore a cup of tea and a bleather. Then home. I am a bit sore but will get some time for myself I was asked out for tea last night but again needed some time and my pal Al came round and I had a dram. It was a hard day but one of contemplation .
The book below has some great routes and ideas if your into winter climbing.
Being in the right place at the right time is critical when Scottish Winter Climbing. This guide will help you make the right choices – do you go high or low, head east, west or north, or attempt snowed-up rock, mixed or ice climbs? With more than 600 new Scottish Winter Climbs to his credit, Simon Richardson reveals his simple strategy for success and selects 50 climbs to put on your hit-list.There is a detailed analysis of the strategy and tactics Scottish Winter Climbers need, taking into account Scotland’s sometimes fickle conditions and unpredictable weather. There are sections on using weather forecasts, using the internet, avoiding avalanches, clothing and equipment, protection, navigation, timing, partners and psychology. Simon also presents 50 climbs mostly in the Grade III to VI range, specifically selected to match a variety of Scottish conditions. Each climb is supported by a map and topo, with access and descent details, route description, optimum conditions and top tips. Climbs include well-known classics and lesser-known gems. There are suggestions for more than 200 alternative routes from Grade II to Grade VII. Detailed overviews are included of approaches and descents on Ben Nevis with North Face panorama and map and summit descent bearings. There is also the largest ever collection of photographs of Scottish Winter Climbers in action!
Now time to relax !