Cairngorms Ski Mountaineering

It was glorious weather in the Cairngorms today for a Falkirk Outdoors Ski Mountaineering day with John, Holly, Lucy and John. We were able to skin from the car park and up on to Fiacaill Ridge before putting skis on our packs and climbing the ridge. The ridge itself was generally well scoured, but you wouldn’t have had to drop off too far on either side to find areas of unstable snow.

Lucy and Holly near the top of Fiacaill Ridge.

We then skied around over Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and pt. 1141m. The skiing on the plateau was either on scoured icy snow or pleasant hard packed slab. We were able to carefully ski from 1141 around the rim of Coire Cas before dropping down in to the coire from Fiacaill a’Choire Cas before descending through the ski area. The snow was consolidating in the sunny weather, but there are likely to be instabilities in some locations for a while. Climbing teams were reporting having to clear a lot of snow from the buttress routes.

Carn an Tuirc

Today Nettle and I visited Coire Kander on Carn an Tuirc near Glen Shee with a Falkirk Community Trust Ski Mountaineering team of Angus, Emanuelle and James. We skied from the road near where the Clunie Water passes underneath and up over the northern shoulder of Carn an Tuirc. The snow down in to Coire Kander had been catching the sun, so we dumped skis and walked down in to the coire before climbing a pleasant Grade I rib back to our skis.

Emanuelle, Angus, James and Nettle skinning up Carn an Tuirc.

We then skinned up to the summit of Carn an Tuirc before enjoying an excellent ski right back to the road. There was good cover from the road, although some eastern aspects are very scoured. Over 900m some very icy areas are present and there is some wind slab around. There are cornices over lots of aspects and good route choice is required, particularly in thawing conditions. The turf was well frozen on the crag. Snow and rime ice was very soft where it had been exposed to the sun, however it was generally very firm. It was sunny all day with light winds. A glorious day to be out in the hills and a great way to access Coire Kander.

Meall nan Tarmachan Ski Mountaineering

John, Emanuelle, Alan and I had a great day out ski-mountaineering with Falkirk Community Trust today. I’d been on the Tarmachan Ridge earlier in the week and new what snow conditions were like, so we headed to Meall nan Tarmachan.

Skinning up the East face of Meall nan Tarmachan

Skinning up the East face of Meall nan Tarmachan

A twenty minute walk took us from the minibus to snow patches on the East face, which we were able to link together for some steep skinning to gain the higher bowl. We skinned up through this and eventually had to don crampons and put skis on our back for an easy gully that lead to the North-East ridge, which we followed to the summit.

John, Alan and Emanuelle ascending the easy gully

John, Alan and Emanuelle ascending the easy gully

A short walk from the summit allowed us to ski excellent spring snow towards Meall Garbh. From the col a traversing descent on the North side of the ridge allowed us to ski the bowl immediately North of Meall Garbh, which gave a superb descent to around 700m. After skinning back up we skied the gully on the South side of the col until we were able to traverse around to the col between Meall nan Tarmachan and pt. 923m. From here we were able to access the bowl on the East face, which gave another good descent finishing via the line of our initial skin up.

The initial easy ski descent from Meall nan Tarmachan

The initial easy ski descent from Meall nan Tarmachan

The snow on the South side of the hills and below 750m was soft and heavy. Above 750m and on the North and East side of the hill the ski-ing was on great spring snow, The turf on the ridge and high in the shade was very firm. Fresh South-Westerly winds, no precipitation whilst we were on the hill, good visibility and some sunny spells made for an excellent ski-mountaineering day.

Beinn an Dothaidh

John and I were out yesterday with a Falkirk ski-mountaineering team of Alan, Elsie, Findlay, Rebecca and Rob. We headed west to Beinn an Dothaidh to try and make the most of the new snow after last weeks thaw. This worked well as we were able to skin from about 450m.

Skinning up towards the NE Coire

Skinning up towards the NE Coire

We skinned up in to the North-East Coire of Beinn an Dothaidh before putting the skis on our back and climbing Emel Ridge. We’d chosen this route as a good option given the fresh slab, which had developed on Friday on top of old snow in gullies.

Alan on an easy section of Emel Ridge

Alan on an easy section of Emel Ridge

We then skied to the summit before descending to near the head of Allt a’Coire Ghabhalaich on excellent new snow. From here we had a long skin around and up to the head of Coire Daingean before descending back to the mini-bus. This was generally on good fresh snow, but without any real base and with burns showing and often requiring the removal of skis. A long day with the final descent and carry of skis back to the van being in the dark.

Rebecca and Elsie in Coire a'Ghabhalaich

Rebecca and Elsie in Coire a’Ghabhalaich

 

Some snow showers during the day. Accumulations of new wind slab on North through to East facing slopes and in sheltered locations on other aspects. The exposed turf was well frozen, but where insulated under new snow the turf was soft. Good conditions on Emel Ridge and teams on Stairway to Heaven and on the buttress around Zig-Zag Gully. A starry night as we headed out and a hard frost developing.

Cairngorm Ski Mountaineering

John and I were out today with a Falkirk Community Trust ski mountaineering team of Ivor, Nigel, Pete and Tony.

We skinned from the Cairngorm Mountain base station up in to Coire an t-Sneachda. We then put skis on our packs and climbed Central Gully. The approach was on soft snow, but once in the gully the snow was excellent throughout and there was no cornice.

Tony and Nigel in Central Gully

Tony and Nigel in Central Gully

After the climb we skied around to 1141m, at the top of the Fiacaill Coire Chais, with a few carries to avoid scoured rocks. A short carry then allowed us to ski down the ridge and in to the ski area to finish with a run on piste back to the car park. Thanks to the folk who helped dig out the minibus that had been left there over the weekend.

Pete and Ivor in Central Gully

Pete and Ivor in Central Gully

No fresh snow during the day; fairly light North/North-West winds; below freezing all day to well below the ski area and we were in cloud most of the day. There’s still plenty of snow right down to the Aviemore level. Ridges and windward slopes are scoured and there will be lots of unconsolidated snow and wind slab on lee slopes.

Nigel and Ivor in the ski area

Nigel and Ivor in the ski area