A Snowy Day In The Cairngorms

Continuing on the snowy theme for the present, I was rooting through some old photos on CDs this afternoon and found a few from a Cairngorms trip we did back in February 2006. We were there for a week and got out most days, but one of the most memorable was, of course, the one with the worst weather! Not horrendous blizzards or anything, but challenging visibility.

We set off in the morning from the ski centre car park and climbed up the Fiacaill a Choire Chais ridge.


The visibilty deteriorated steadily as we climbed, until we eventually hit true white-out conditions up on the plateau. We then didn’t take any photos for a while, as we were too focused on navigating. Geoff did manage to snap one of me though – not far past the Westmorland Cairn – when there was a brief, slightly-improved visibility window.


The previous evening we’d spent some time plotting various grid refs into the old GPS we had at that time, and we did make use of them to help us stay well clear of the edge cornices as we walked around the top of Coire an Sneachda and up to Cairn Lochan.

No more photos though, until we started to descend the far side of Cairn Lochan, when the visibility suddenly improved somewhat.


We had orginally thought that we might go over to Ben Macdui before descending back to the car, but going had been slower than expected, so we decided to shorten the walk and descend straight down the ridge to the west of Coire an Lochan.

We did start to get some wonderful views as the afternoon wore on.


White, as far as the eye could see!


The temperature started to drop too, as the light slowly faded.


As we dropped off the ridge and started to cross through the open end of Coire an Sneachda, the snow cover wasn’t quite as deep and rocks could be seen sticking up through the surface.


This inevitably made the going a touch more difficult, with many potential ankle-turning moments!


But on looking back at the hills, at the end of a great day out, there was nothing for it but to make our way down to Aviemore, where huge mugs of hot chocolate – piled high with marshmallows – awaited us.



About chrissiedixie

Love being out on the moors and mountains, backpacking, dogs, travelling generally. Favourite place in the world - Yosemite National Park. Retired teacher and ex Mountain Rescue Deputy Team Leader. Married to Geoff, who puts up with all sorts.
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12 Responses to A Snowy Day In The Cairngorms

  1. MrsBoardwell says:

    Proper hardcore! I also love that you keep your old pictures on CDs ^_^. Am not the biggest fan of cloud storage myself and with an ever growing collection of pics [and swapping over to the *RAW* side] am currently debating how to future proof my memories. I might opt for a wireless external hard drive but feel tempted to back-up in cloud land, a little OTT perhaps?
    On the Easter front – we have decided to stay local with day walks and so to say I am envious of your forthcoming trip to Scotland would be a total understatement!!!! 😉
    Enjoy x

    • 😀 Our old pictures are on CDs, but our newer ones are on an external hard drive. Never gone down the road of cloud land – can’t really get my head around things existing (or maybe they don’t…….???) in the ether somewhere!
      Staying local and doing lots of day walks at Easter still sounds good – I’m sure you’ll still have lots of fun! x

    • I’m on the edge of paranoid about losing stuff on the ‘puter – a mate of mine picked up a virus that trashed his hard drive plus the two external drives he had left connected. I’m currently two thirds of the way through writing a guidebook, and I keep the files on the hard drive, back-up to an external drive which I then disconnect, and also save in the cloud. (Dropbox – brilliant, easy to use and handy for sharing) Belt, braces and a spare pair just in case 🙂

  2. I thought for a moment you’d just been up to the Cairngorms now – with all the avalanches an’ all! The Cairngorms, when they’re not avalanching, are my favourite winter walking area in Scotland – I just love that big, open plateau up there – beautiful!

    • It is gorgeous up there, isn’t it? We’ve been up several times, but always in the snow, and I now want to go in the summer and see what the terrain really looks like!

      • I love it in summer too. There are quite a few hills with bad boulderfields all the way along the summit ridges though – Derry Cairngorm for one! The snowfree plateau is beautiful in a bare and Arctic tundra way – I love it but maybe a lot of folks feel it’s very barren.

  3. beatingthebounds says:

    Once, during a week’s bothying in the Cairngorms, experienced a white-out of epic proportions – during gusts I literally couldn’t see my friend who was walking an arm’s length in front of me. Exciting, but a bit rough.

    • Exciting and fun – like you say – but I do remember feeling slightly disorientated at times. When you really couldn’t tell any difference between ground/sky and could hardly see each other, you couldn’t even tell when your feet were going to touch the ground. It stopped you short in your tracks and made your head spin!

  4. Great post Chrissie, and a great day out by the looks of things – I know the snow can be a pain, but when it’s gone we’ll be waiting in anticipation for next year!

  5. surfnslide says:

    I think most people have a “I was in the Cairngorms in a white-out” story. A magnificent and scary place in equal measure

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