Great walk round the Northern Corries of Cairngorm. No wind lots of snow and stunning views.

Early morning passing view on way to Cairngorms.

I decided to get out for a wander today and though I am still recover

from bronchitis but needed to get out. I had a short cycle yesterday only a few miles on my mountain bike and felt a bit better.

You have to be away early as there is not much daylight in early December. The drive to Grantown On Spey was in the dark and the mist was down . I was a bit worried that the mist would be all over the Cairngorms but as I approached Aviemore it cleared and the sky was looking superb a pink colour over the hills.

The light was stunning as daybreak came and the car park was quiet, the snow was down but there was only a few climbers walkers about. I headed up onto the hill planning on going round the Northern Corries. The path was icy in places with lots of water ice to catch the unwary so I took it easy.

One of the best views about! Scary place in bad weather in a SAR Helicopter.

I love this walk it is a lovely way onto Ben MacDui  but few go near the edge of the incredible Larig Gru many miss this as the path heads away from the cliffs.  The views are always incredible even more so today. The pools of Dee and the great cleft in the morning light always makes me feel alive.

I met a couple of walkers one getting some winter Mountaineering in for his International Mountain Leader. We had a chat and he headed out onto Ben MacDui. It was in the cloud but otherwise everything was in view. I heard the SAR helicopter heading out for some training and it flew by me later.

The Larig Gru was a place not to be in a helicopter at times in bad weather, it was easy to get sucked in when heading to a call -out  and the tops were out die to weather. It can be a long walk out after a search or descent from the plateau on an area knowledge day, It steep and holds lots of runnels of snow.

I then cut over for more views just above the Larig Gru and just look and enjoy it. It was then head up onto the tops to see if there were any climbers as the snow was in great condition the higher I went.

I followed the edge of  cliffs and saw two climbers on I think the classic Ewan Buttress. I spoke to them and they had a great day despite a poor forecast, it was worth the effort and the early start, they had down Hidden Chimney the day before and enjoyed it. I met them as they neared the top and we had a chat. I used to climb a lot here maybe when my mate Dan gets back from offshore we will get a days climbing.  There were a few big Cornices already building and a lot of ice forming high up.

It was then along the tops seeing a few folk many with just Ski poles no axes and a couple who were going to descend the Goat Track without axes. They changed their minds thank goodness as poles are no use on steep ground if you slip. This place had a few accidents every winter you have to take care. There seemed to be a lot more than usual and there is now way a ski pole is not a substitute for an axe on steep ground. You also need to practice with your axe so if you slip you are ready for it. It would be awful to ruin such a great day?

Above the Goat track !

I saw a few more in the next Corrie doing skills and headed round always and enjoying seeing more climbers  and today with no wind it was great and so enjoyable.

Always time for a brew. To sit and enjoy the views on a day like this.

It was a bit busier now on the tops a lot of folk about and I enjoyed my walk down to a deserted Cairngorm Ski area. It was sad to see it empty and little happening.

It was a lovely day no rush today no timetable just be off the hill before dark. I enjoy being on my own at my own speed nowadays and think of all the rushing in past days to get back. The Cairngorms with no wind is special and I am feeling a bit stronger but still must take it easy, not easy to do when every day is important.

You do not get many better days than that !

Getting a bit fitter not coughing so much but great to take my time and enjoy this incredible place.

2018 Dec – Devils Point from the Larig Gru.

Where next depending on the weather the North West beckons will have to watch the weather.

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather | 2 Comments

Interesting program on the big changes at Cairngorm Ski Resort on the Radio Scotland on the Out of Doors show.


Many will already be aware that the company Natural Retreats the operators running the Cairngorm Ski area has gone into receivership. This is one of Scotland’s busiest skiing areas and one that is loved by many.

BBC news

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-46389488

Natural Retreats now gone .

It is worth reading up on this historic skiing area. Over the years it has had many trials and tribulations of the historic ski area . The radio Scotland Podcast I thought covered many of the areas of this difficult period that the Ski area finds itself in.

Sadly there has been a lot of problems with the train that takes the skiers high up the mountain . Due to engineering problems the train is now not running and is awaiting an inspection report that may take the winter to fix.

Hopefully things will get sorted yet many think it may take all winter to sort.

We all hope the Cairngorm Ski area will soon be back running to full capacity. I hope they get it right this time there are enough folk in the local community to sort it out it’s future but it needs support.

The Cairngorm area badly needs the ski resort running it is vital to the economy .

Yet as the program stated there is still plenty to do in the area such as winter mountaineering winter climbing, mountain biking and cross country skiing when the snow arrives .

Please support the area if you can by visiting and helping the local community.

Last weekend I was in the Cairngorms before the news broke and the snow was falling. There is a lot needing done and maybe this disaster may bring the ongoing problems to the fore.

There is going to be a “snow factory “in place at the bottom of the hill so hopefully the skiers will be able to enjoy some fun.

Many will still be skiing many will be skinning up onto the high ground Ski Mountaineering and keeping the Valley going.

So hopefully you will still visit the area and things will get sorted. I will do as often as I can.

There are a lot of jobs at stake .

Comments as always welcome !

Posted in Articles, Local area and events to see, Views Political? | 2 Comments

Digitail App for the Munros – A good addition from the Scottish Mountain Trust.

In the old days when I started my Munros we had a Munro list on the wall at Kinloss that you could tick. Then I bought the Munro book by the SMC so basic but great, I still have my copy its a bit battered.

This digital version of the SMC’s best selling definitive hillwalkers’ guidebook provides route descriptions and maps to all of Scotland’s 282 Munros (mountains over 3000 feet), which can be purchased by area or by route. As well as being a handy pocket sized reference for use at home or on the hill, you can log your ascents electronically as you work your way to Munro completion! Since its first printed publication in 1985, all profits from this best selling guidebook have been donated to the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, a charity created to promote the enjoyment, appreciation and conservation of mountains and the mountain environment.

We’ve now introduced a new feature to buy all of the content for £14.99, which is £8 cheaper than our book (you get all of the book content for that). All profits from SMC and SMT products go to the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, who support projects to benefit the mountaineering community and mountains of Scotland.

There is a good review on the TGO by Alec Roddie, I like the app it handy and as my memory is fading good to see things moving on.

https://www.tgomagazine.co.uk/review/smc-munros-app/

The SMT have now introduced a new feature to buy all of the content for £14.99, which is £8 cheaper than our book (you get all of the book content for that).

Profits from our guidebooks go to the Scottish Mountaineering Trust which is a Scottish-registered charity. Purchasing an SMC publication therefore helps the Scottish mountain environment; they have raised over 1 million pounds to help the Mountain Environment.

I wonder what Sir Hugh would say?

 

Well done the SMT when is the Corbett ap coming out?

The Munro’s – Thanks Sir Hugh

It was a race to finish
A list to complete
For a name in a book

Like a lover, then gone.

So many great memories
now the hills are battered
By so many feet?

Who are we to criticise
we have all used you?

For many the first is:

Like love, life changing?

So many are now enjoying
what we had when young.

Go and have fun and savour
Those Munro days in the sun.

 Heavy 

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On my Mums Anniversary – I still miss her 38 years on.

Every year at this time as the years go by its still the same today as it was when my Mum passed away.  This is the anniversary of my Mum’s passing she died in 1980 I still miss her every day, she was as all Mum’s are a special lady.  As you get older and wiser you appreciate her more and more. She raised 5 children washed cooked and looked after us, how she managed is incredible.  She was also the minister’s wife and worked so hard for the Church throughout her life which was never easy. These were the days when she was at the beck and call of not only her family but a needy church.  As the youngest of 5 children I was spoiled in every way, always in a scrape or trouble and being a Ministers son a bit of a rebel.

My Mum was always there for me and we had a great bond through her love and care! She loved her family, their kids, the church, the mountains, football the tennis and dedicated her life to her family her grandchildren and as always the church. Money was really tight but we never wanted for love and she brought us all up almost single handed as Dad pursued his life as a minister. In these days he visited most of his congregation at night and we hardly saw him. During my wild years my Mum saw something in me as Mum’s do and as I grew up we got a lot closer! When I went and joined the RAF she loved that I was in Mountain Rescue though she worried about me daily as only Mum’s can do! We spoke every week on the phone as most of my leave was spent chasing mountains I was a rare visitor home!

All these years on I can never get these times back and like many regret my selfishness but that can be what happens when you work so far from home.  I wonder how many who read this sadly feel the same? At least you can do something about it.

When mum got ill with Leukaemia she never told me till a few days before she passed away and only then when I was summoned home. Yet we has spoken every week, she hid it as did the family. She did not want me worried as I was in a relationship and now in North Wales as full – time Mountain Rescue my dream job and my life was so busy, so I thought. I rushed home on the train arriving in the early morning and walked with my dog from Kilmarnock to Ayr money was tight. I was shocked poor Mum was so frail and yet every week on the phone she never said a thing or complained and just listened to me and gave me advice. Poor Mum I later found out was in terrible pain for a long time but never moaned, she was incredible during these last few months. She told me to get my brother back from Bermuda and then she died  shortly after he arrived home. We got some special time only two days together near the end and she was so upset she told me that she had little to leave us a monetary sense. Yet she had given us a lifetime of love and care and that is what matters. In this modern life I despair at times when I families ripped apart after a loved ones death over money and possessions. To me love, care and kindness is the greatest gift ever that parents can bestow on their kids.

The next few short days were awful and I think I was programmed to seeing so many tragedies in the mountains that it took me years to realise what had happened. Even at the funeral I was like a robot and had to rush back to work next day to North Wales. How I miss her and wish I could have done more for her and when in trouble or down she is still always still there for me!

Sadly it took me many years to grieve for her.

She was such a beautiful person in every aspect who loved us all yet had time to guide and be there for us. I shared so many secrets with her over my life and she was always there to listen when I needed! How she would have loved to see her grandchildren and their kids now. I would have loved her to have met all the great Grandchildren and Lexi and Ellie Skye and shared their lives! I also hope I got some of her good points I got the love flowers from my Mum so every few weeks I buy some or pick them and they always remind me of her. I have her deep love of the wild places and still feel her with me when out and about, sadly what would she have made of today’s world, I wonder?

She loved her tennis and would have been so proud of Andy Murray and his brother in the tennis world and I believe she watches them in heaven and is praying for Andy to get well. I have had a few near misses in life in the mountains and I am sure she was there with me giving me that extra drive and push to get out of a situation.

Please give your Mum and Dad a hug or a visit or a call we all owe them so much they make us who we are. Mum I miss you as we all do thanks for being there for me. I am off to get some flowers for the house and for my friend Wendy, she reminds me so much of you every way.

This year has been incredible I wish I could tell her about my trip to America and the meeting of so many kind folk. So many reminded me of my mum one 81 year old who had lost her daughter 30 years ago in the Lockerbie Tragedy was so like my Mum. She radiated love and care and had no bad words to say despite what the world had thrown at her and her family, She spoke to us all and  gave us all a hug and I had a cry I am sure my Mum saw it and was happy for us.

Thanks Mum XXX

 

 

Posted in Family, Health, People | 2 Comments

Character building – Bivying – I learnt from Bivouacking from that.

Nowadays thanks to great books like Munromoonwalker many are spending the night out on the hills. In the RAF Teams we used to have to bivouacs regularly mainly to get a trust in the gear we carried, In the early 70’s it was plastic bags and they were wet and miserable but proved the point? I always tried to find a howf as we knew where they were like the Shelterstone before it got popular and so busy. The secret is good insulation and nowadays is so easy with sleeping mats and gortex bivouack bags .

Shelter stone – Photo Davy Walker

We knew where they were the late John Hinde  and the late Ben Humble knew most of them all over Scotland from Skye, to the Arrochar hills. I remember bivying below the Cobbler and Creag an Dubh Loch, Arran and a few other places especially below the big cliffs and crags, even a howf at Creag Mheagaidh near the loch. Coire ant Sneachda had a bivy spot that I have never re –  found below the Mess of Pottage. Anyone know where about it is? Many of the western hills in the big wild corries have spots and boulders many are only known to a few. I tool the troops to these places and we had many an unplanned bivy for them.

photo – Future RAF Valley MRT team leader in the learning phase in Cairngorms Lee Wales and Jullie.

Of course all this was great for the big hills and learning the craft bivying at 18000 feet is not fun and you can see how cold we are after a hellish night in the Himalayas.  Willie went on the be the main man in charge of the RAF Mountain Rescue and a great pal.

1990 hims bivy 1800 ft-

We learnt about bivouacking from that. The skills all came into use:

Skye December 1982  – USA F111 Aircraft crash in Skye –  December 1982 – Scrambled by helicopter to The Isle of Skye on a wild winters night with heavy snow and the helicopter having to land on the road due to weather. Then await the storm and a dropped in a remote Bay to search for a missing F111 aircraft with two crew.

“By now it was midnight we were finding large bits of aircraft but no sign of the capsule, it was passed midnight we stopped for a break, it was now very heavy wet snow falling, and we were soaked and needed to gather our thoughts. Everyone was cold and tired I had a fine bunch of troops and we agreed to search and spread out, it was not long before we found pieces of the cockpit and sadly the crew. It was fairly easy to decide that no one had survived the crash. The ground was incredibly steep with cliffs and broken ground covered in fresh wet snow. In moments like this life stands still. We were working in hope that we would find two people, I was sure they would have ejected, it hit me hard, though you cannot show it at the time.

Two unknown men to us American Aircrew with families, children and lives just like us had died where we now stood. It is impossible to explain our feelings at the time.  Due to the sensitivity of this crash and where we were it was now about 0300 and we decided to bivouac at the scene until the reinforcements from RAF Kinloss arrived.  They took over 6 hours to get to Skye the weather was so bad.

We had no radio Communications all night and I tried every hour to get through transmitting what we had found, there was no answer nothing. We even had Gus at the bothy Camusunary and he could not hear us, we were alone. It was a hellish night, and looking back after 40 years in Mountain Rescue it was one of my worst nights ever on the mountain’s. In the end we rested and bedded down  we were soaked and wet all night with the fresh snow and rain making the ground slushy and wet. I could see the two young ones suffering so by 0400 we were all up waiting for daybreak; it was a very cold night.  We were struggling yet there was no way we were descending the steep crags in the dark. By 0800 the weather had cleared and we heard the team on the radio, they had an epic drive 6 hours and stayed the night at Jethro Tull  Ian Andersons Farm(the musicians farm) and set out at first light. They managed to drive in to near Camusunary a crazy road and eventually reached us by midday. We showed them around the crash site which was all over the area where we had bivouacked. We could not get back down quick enough and were soon back at Base Camp in Skye by mid-afternoon.  We had been on the go that day for over 24 hours after a days work.

In these days we bivouacked in plastic bags after that we got Gortex bivy bags. That was a hard fight getting funding for something so basic. We were lucky that we all survived. I had no kit as my bag was full of climbing gear and a rope lucky I was fit and strong and daft and  yet what a night as the leader of that group I was worried that we might lose someone.

Nowadays with all the great gear its a lot easier but the skill of staying out overnight is one worth thinking about. Remember all the skills you practice may come into use in years to come or in an emergency. I could have done with a bothy bag on Skye in 1982 great bit of gear.

Cave bivy Himalayas Lessons learned.

Comment – Alison

“Morning just finished my cup of coffee and reading your blog about bivving. You mentioned John Hinde who i had the pleasure of spending part of a summer with at Outward Bound Loch eil Ft William in 1985, I did a placement there.He was really into getting the kids from Belfast out on a “solo” which was basically a bivouac alone for 24 hours and they couldn’t move very far from the position he gave them. I was a bit shocked to be honest but he said that they would learn loads about themselves from the experience. When we went to retrieve them from their places in the forest above the centre, everyone survived and it was really interesting to hear how they got through the 24 hours!!! Most had never done anything like that before. Happy days, I like John and they way he worked with the kids.”

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 1 Comment

Joss Gosling Funeral Arrangements.Fort William at 1 pm at St Andrews Church.

Joss Gosling’s funeral arrangements :

The family have asked me to pass on these details.

The funeral will be at 1pm on Tues 11th Dec at St Andrews Church Fort William – family flowers only please.

Donations to Mountain Rescue And the Alzheimer’s Society.

Please note The Inverness crematorium is family only on 12 th December.

Thank you !

Heavy Whalley

Posted in Articles, Charity, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue | Leave a comment

Short walk into the Cairngorms a winter wander.

It was a short wander into the Cairngorms passing a snow gritter on the way over the Lonely but beautiful Dava Moor. The road up to the Caingorm car park was icy and quiet.

I parked away from the few cars and walked into Coire ant Sneachda there looked like there was little snow on the hill but as I wandered up into Coire the wind picked up and the snow was moving around.

The snow got a foot deep in places and the odd drift was interesting any other  footprints were covered in snow.

2018 Nov tent Sneachda

The Geordies and a Texan camping !

There were two tents just of the big boulder field three Georfies and a Texan enjoying a winter weekend in the Corrie. I had a chat they had a good day yesterday on Invernookie a well known winter climb but abseiled off due to the turf not being frozen but had a fun day. I had a good chat and told them that there were a few of my civilian mates in the 80’s were Geordies and great characters, I left them as they prepared to leave for a long journey home.

One of the lads was in the RAF at Waddington I told him to get in touch with the RAF Mountain Rescue Team at Lossiemouth he would enjoy himself!  I think they thought I was some old strange guy so if they contact me I will give you some contacts.

P1040743

The odd blast of snow made you remember its winter. The view has gone so quickly. 

Lots of gear awaiting buried in the snow.

The wind was sand blasting and battering the face and I was glad I had lots of gear but need to change my gloves for my heavy winter ones. The weather was coming in and the crags through glimpses was pretty snow-covered. I could hear the shouting of a few groups on some winter routes. I had planned to go high but I am still getting over my bronchitis is still with me so it was just a wander and a look around. Yet I enjoyed it.

2018 Nov windy camp

A couple out on the hill no path just whiteness but great to be out in the winter.

I wandered back down what a view as I got lower down and out of the wind. The burn had little cornices building and despite the seemingly lack of snow earlier it was amazing. High up on the hill it would be interesting walking .

I stopped out of the wind and got my new flask (out thanks Ellie and Lexi) I then sat and had some food as the weather as it always does cleared.

Though I had been here so often in the past it was well worth the drive and the sand blasted face. It was a short shakedown of my winter gear and a reminder. It was then head home sort out the gear and a warm bath.

View at the end of the day Loch Morlich looking stunning in the light.

I love getting out in the winter and it’s just started and you learn every season. I hope the boys enjoyed there weekend camping?

Great to see such enthusiasm though from the young guys in the tents.

Posted in Articles, Gear, Health, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment