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.