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Cairngorms, early winter conditions 15/10/23


Early season wintry conditions in the Northern Cairngorms

The first wintry day out of the coming season with a good stride round the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms. We are hoping to make plenty and regular posts on conditions through the winter. Today was in some ways a typical winter event rather like the ‘Lambing Storms’ found in the spring. Early bursts of winter are common as the seasons change and if they don’t provide some good early season climbing or skiing conditions at least provide some hope and inspiration for the coming season. I remember a strangely huge dump of snow in September, I climbed Stirling Bomber with Johnny Baird and wading through waist deep snow to reach it. The snow was actually extensive enough the ski area opened for a weekend. Things where perhaps simpler for the ski area then as it just required turning on a rickety chair lift now it requires a 56 million pound over haul of the only lift that goes to the top of the mountain to get things going.

Pretty iced up rock and the ground getting a bit more frozen but not much

Cloudy, windy and cold this morning in the top car park with a freezing level sitting at about 800 metres. Seemed quite optimistic when I saw folks packing climbing axes but I think they perhaps got lucky higher up perhaps towards Pygmy Ridge would have worked well I think. We planned a spin around the Fiachaill Ridge and round over the top but wind put paid to that along the ridge coupled with only having the morning to play with. At the foot of the Twin ribs though the rock was very iced up and rimed. Exposed small areas of turf where frozen but on the whole not really. It was nice to see a wintery scene though and feel the cold again. Gets you excited for what might lay ahead. That said these early bursts often disappear and then return with a bit more longevity around December time. No requirement for crampons during our excursion but the axe was handy for some balance on slippery ground in the wind.

Not sure when the next one of these will be as guessing when a winter might get going in earnest is not that easy to predict. Also we are now wrapping up for some time on the equator for some climbing courses in Kenya returning late November when hopefully there will be more winter to get stuck into. A few blogs to come from Kenya though in the meantime.



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