Monday, 15 November 2010

Deep powder snow on Fiacaill Ridge (posted by James)

Fiacaill Ridge, Grade II

Fiacaill Ridge (Grade II), Cairngorm

A heavy dump of snow across the Highlands to coincide with the start of my month holiday….brilliant in some ways, but if only it had been a few days earlier!

For the time of year, it is heavy snow. Knowing that nearly every route within my grade in Glencoe would be a bad choice, I headed east to the Cairngorms to a well known "powder-day" route - Fiacaill Ridge.

A lone mountaineer making his way over the Cairngorm plateau

I was surprised at the sheer amount of powder for mid November. It wasn't like this at this time last year was it? However fit you are, it's tiring work, slogging through powder uphill.

As I reached the start of the climb the wind started, and I was treated to the most spectacular displays of spindrift tornados and icy Brocken Spectres I'd ever seen. Ski-goggles out! I was grateful for them, otherwise seeing anything would have been a nightmare….

There's a couple of awkward moves on Fiacaill Ridge, tight chimneys which were a bit stiff for the grade under the amount of powder I was dealing with. Every axe placement had to be thoroughly searched for and cleared of loose snow. All the more fun!

A bold skier peering over the edge of Coire an't Sneachda

The walk across the plateau towards Cairngorm was unusually spectacular, and a sheer dream from the perspective of someone who is a photographer before a climber. Spindrift veils and bright sunshine, and occasional cross-country skiers battling their way through the snow.

That's 3 winter climbs for me already, and it's only mid November. The season is off to a good start!

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