Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Deep in Cairngorm Powder

     I drove up to Aviemore early on Sunday morning and made the essential stop at Tesco and headed up through Glenmore to the lower ski centre car park. My bag was packed ready for the trip ahead and the day was growing late, 2:30pm as we started up onto the hill. The plan was to walk in over Cairngorm towards Loch Avon and stay in the Hutchinson Memorial Hut. The snow was soft and the going tough as we zig zagged our way up through the ski tows, working on our timings as we went. We were concentrating too much on our map work that we hadn't noticed the darkness coming in and soon enough the head torches were out. 
Piers heading off into the clag on Cairngorm
     The bright lights and droning noise of the piste bashers driving up and down the slopes reminded us of the infrastructure and development on this mountain and how different I would feel in a couple of hours time as we walking within the deeper Cairngorms. One driver thought we were lost and wandering the mountain, with the car only 20 minutes away, but I guess it has probably happened. He gave even funnier looks when I replied that we'd only just set off and were walking into a hut over the back of Cairngorm. As we passed the Ptarmigan and onto Cairngorm summit the wind increased and it began to snow, another group of eight walked by and the line of torches nodded as I nodded back. 
The Hutchinson Memorial Hut, Cairngorms
     We bumped into another torch as we descended off Cairngorm towards the 1141 cairn. Ben was knelt in the snow, bag off, looking at his map. Turns out he was headed the same way as us but didn't feel entirely confident descending the steep slope to Loch Avon. So Ben tagged along and descended to Loch Avon and onto the Shelterstone. We made slow progress through the powder covered boulder field and up to the col before Loch Etchachan. The time was getting on and it had been a long day as we slowly plodded on before a brief incident with a tarn not marked on our 1:50000 maps. Turns out there are four small tarns on the 1:25000 map. We plodded slowly down the burn towards the bothy, arriving to find the place like a sauna with nine people already there, it was to be a cramped night. 
Piers climbing up the slopes of Beinn a' Chaorainn
Lunchtime at the Fords of Avon Refuge
     We all awoke after a cosy night in the bothy to a cracking day as the sun was still rising over the mountains, its' glowing warmth lacking in the glens. Piers and I were the most organised in the bothy chaos and first to leave as we climbed the slopes onto Beinn a' Chaorainn and its subsidiary summit Beinn a' Chaorainn Bheag. The order of the day was pacing; different slopes, different snow, boulders, heather, up and down. 
Walking towards The Saddle from the Fords of Avon
Alpenglow across the Eastern Cairngorms
     Powder was tough going through the day on every angle of slope, the boulders and heather covered ground made progress slow as we stopped for a quick lunch stop at the Fords of Avon refuge. A climb up to the saddle and into Ciste Mhearad and a steady plod down the ski slopes with our weary legs ready to plan the following days outing, after being well fed and watered.

Friday, 26 December 2014

2014 - What a Cracker!

     I have been meaning to write a post reflecting on my year at some point this month, but it wasn't until I started looking back through photographs that I have realised what an amazing year I have had. It has been an incredibly busy year for me in all aspects of my life: going self employed, moving house, completing some qualifications and of course lots of time spent outdoors. It has been a struggle trying to select photos to use to share and portray my year without reams of text, but I guess here it goes...
A few days visiting Tom + Emily in Torridon with some absolutely wild weather, before heading across to the Cairngorms
Piers walking into Coire an t'Sneachda in February
A weekend of scrambling in early March on some of Snowdonia's finest scrambles
Bluebird day at Pot Scar, Yorkshire Dales in March. Great trad limestone crag.
I thought my climbing year was over here and it was only April. No climbing for 2 months after popping a finger at Armathwaite.
Claire and Piers following up Hope, Idwal Slabs in June. I had just finished my post at Low Mill Outdoor Centre and was about to spend the whole summer climbing in preparation for my MIA assessment.
Finn and James following up Ardus on a teaching day at Shepherds, Borrowdale

Climbing some classic routes with good friends in the sunshine through July and August. 3 happy fellas chilling above the sea
Lakeland classics were climbed through the dry July. Me climbing the penultimate pitch of Eagle Front (VS, 4c), Eagle Crag, Buttermere
An Alps trip in August. Wild weather on the summit of the Dent du Geant
Team send of the Aiguille du Pouce. Ben, Kirsty, Olly + Piers.
Moving house in October to the heart of the Dales. My new playground. Ingleborough from the lane. 
The view from the garden, Pen-y-ghent in the distance
Brocken Spectres on the only good weather day of my MIA assessment at Plas-y-Brenin in Snowdonia
I am incredibly proud of being a member of AMI after passing my MIA
A time to enjoy some bouldering and some cracking gritstone days, but now winter is upon us its all about Scotland!
     Winter is now upon us and I am making my first trip up to Scotland in a few days time, whilst fitting in training, rock and work between trips for the next few months. This set of pictures provides me with some many memories and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to spend so much time in the outdoors. I am now looking forward into next year and what it will bring, hopefully it will provide as many adventures the past year.