Wednesday, 4 March 2009

New snow both East and West

Yesterday I headed over to Aviemore with the intention of walking into the Braeriach corries, staying at the dilapidated bothy, and climbing Braeriach. The weather wasn't too bad when I set out, but by the time I reached the Chalamain Gap the snow had set in with a vengeance and the wind was increasing all the time. The Gap was carpeted with several inches of soft new snow making it highly treacherous to cross the boulder-field, necessitating a detour to the North.

Upon entering the Lairig Ghru, the wind reached galeforce proportions from the South, driving vast amounts of snow in front of it. Very quickly, enormous drifts started to build up and progress towards the summit of the pass became difficult. As I reached the Pools of Dee at about 5pm I decided to turn back, as I still had several kilometres left to the Garbh Coire Bothy, which may well be buried in snow by the time I got there.

I then had to walk back to Aviemore, and ended up walking almost the entire way back as I missed the last bus ... although a kind climber gave me a lift along the last mile of the road. A well-deserved pint of Wildcat and a dram or two of whisky in the Old Bridge Inn, and all was well.

Given the high avalanche threat in the Cairngorms I decided to come home early. Overnight, two inches of snow fell in Aviemore. The bus journey back along the Great Glen was spectacular, with all the surrounding mountains shining perfect white. Particularly inspiring was the view of the Grey Corries, Aonach Mor, and Ben Nevis from above Spean Bridge: it looked like a landscape out of the Arctic, pure unbroken white, with huge plumes of spindrift blowing in ragged strips from the summit crests.

Here in Glencoe there has been just as much snow. For the time being the avalanche risk is going to be high indeed, but given how warm the sun is I have hopes for a relatively quick period of consolidation. If things stay cold, good conditions should return in due course!

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