Monday, 29 April 2013

2 Day ski touring adventure in the Cairngorms

I've realised a dream i've had for nearly 5 years this weekend of doing a multi-day ski touring trip in the Cairngorms and using a Mountain Bothy (Hut) to stay in overnight.
The Plan!
We started off at the Cairngorm ski carpark and managed to ski right from there and across to Lurchers burn, a fantastic, if long, easy angled gully which keeps its snow and even had 2 inches of fresh from the previous nights storm.

Lurchers Burn in the sunshine
From the top of that, we turned left and headed up onto Cairn Lochan to be met with stunning views of the Plateau in all its glory.
Looking towards Braeriach
The top of Coire an Lochan

Heading across the Plateau
On and on we pushed, eventually summiting on top of Ben Macdui 4 hrs after leaving the car and 700m vertical metres later.  On a normal walking day this would be brilliant, but on skis the best was to come!  A quick bearing check and off we careered on every sort of snow imaginable from Ice to windslab, breakable crust to sticky wet porridge, we had it and that's touring.  No lifts, no piste bashers, just you and your mates and a world of adventure to explore, proper sking.

What had taken 4 hrs to climb took about 30min to descend and we arrived very happy and tired at the brilliant Hutchinson Bothy.  A small but lovely Hut complete with stove and 3 lovely lads up for a social evening who'd brought peat for the stove!  Soo nice and warm.  We proceeded to shatter their peace and quiet, but that's bothies, nice folk, beautiful places all thrown together sharing a unique thing.

Sharing brews and banter in the Hut

Now our friend Cathy (left) is a Pilates Instructor, and her and Ali felt a little stretching session was just the ticket after a days skiing, so they commandeered the floor and treated everyone to a little demo of how to look after your boys just ate biscuits and drank tea!

And bend and stretch...
The next day (after little sleep!) we left the pretty little Hut and headed up the valley behind it to Coire Etchachan.  A really amazing remote and stunning high valley with a loch in it, which was frozen and covered in snow though we didn't dare ski on it.

The Hutchinson Bothy

From there it was as straight a route as possible back to the cars as the wind and weather had gotten a bit Scottish, those of you who've been will know what i mean.

Loch Avon basin

Ali putting in difficult turns in heavy snow with a heavier rucsac!

Sue with the Shelter Stone Crag behind

Its the Beatles gone sking!

Poor Andy!

The edge of a frozen-ish Loch Avon
After a challenging ski into Loch Avon via a gully we rucsac'd skis and followed the Loch around to the bottom of the burn coming out of Coire Raibert.  This was in with snow, but pretty steep...of course the girls styled it, using our skis with skins on to climb the 30' slopes, zig zagging as we went.  I slipped tripped stumbled and cursed my way up... so no photo's!

Andy cruising after the joys/horrors of the steep climb  up

The coire cas headwall

From there it was a beautiful skin up to the top of the Cas headwall and then whooping turns back to the cars.  Ali and Sue, not content with that, turned right near the top and headed down coire ciste and i drove round and got them...apparently the snow was the best of the trip.  That serves me right for being lazy!

There are so many things that have to come together.  Weather, snow cover and condition, time off, friends to drag me up up the hills and burn me off sking down (and pick up the pieces!). And they all did this weekend and how.  It was a trip i'll never forget and i'm itching to get out with everyone for the next one!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The mighty cairngorm

What a day! We skied up fiacaill chas down into sneachda by the mess of potage, back up, down cas headwall, up to the top of cairngorm and all the way down coire ciste...phew! With great snow on the plateau we've a proper mission planned for weekend!

Scottish the end of April!

Scottish winter is still going strong. So i've come up to the cairngorms for a last ski touring blast and to collect some new skis which definately helping me ski better. Spent the morning at glenshee, which is shut at the moment, so although I had to earn my turns they were smooth and empty! Then drove over to cairngorm to meet a friend and decided to go up and back down coire ciste which was in great spring condition. Again it was really quiet. So quiet that a herd of reindeer were wandering happily around in the car park. Great day and there may be more snow coming. :0)

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Spring skiing in the lakes

We had a brilliant day ski touring on high street yesterday.  We've some amazing conditions at the moment,  and we all got a bit sunburnt. ..amazing!