Sunday, 16 February 2014

Into the Freezer

After many weekends making the by-now ritual Saturday journey to the Glenmore Lodge snow gates only to find them shut, frustration was growing ripe! Countless days of gale to storm force winds, zero visibility and rapidly accumulating unstable snow was making me wonder if I should take up mountain biking? But finally some stable weather. I say stable, but in fact the conditions weren't that great, but the weather has been so consistently crap for the last few weeks, a half decent forecast was all that's needed!

The snow plastered Fiacaill Ridge (II) 
Looking out over the frozen plateau towards Ben Macdui. 
I made the most of my dream combination of good weather and a Sunday by racing past the hordes walking up in Corie an t-Snechda and then onto the Fiacaill ridge. The wind, although significantly subdued compared to the last few weeks was still quite buffeting, waiting to push you off your feet with every minor stumble from hibernating rocks beneath the snow. The ridge itself was quite busy, but with a strong cross wind these other people were all but invisible, hidden by the torrent of spin drift being blown up from Corie an Lochain.
Looking into the Loch Avon basin with the lake of Loch Avon visible,
 just beneath a respectable amount of snow!
Looking over at Shelterstone Crag and Pinnacle Buttress
Kinda gives an idea of the amount of snow about. Not quite
yet spring yet it would seem!
The view of the plateau was amazing. A totally frozen landscape, only the most pronounced of topographical feature pierced the vast the blanket of snow. After that I left all the people behind and descended into Loch Avon via Allt Corie Raiberit. The gully was on the west impinged on by a large cornice, resulting in sugar soft powder in the base, which was wait deep in place!

Actual sunshine!  Don't think its going to thaw out the lake any time soon..

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Looking up the final section of Diagonal Gully.
Looking from the top of Diagonal Gully back into Loch Avon.
After traversing the shore I then broke up the valley just short of the Shelterstone aiming for Diagonal Gully on Stag Rocks. The gully itself is only grade 1 but quite steep, and was defiantly suffering from the strong sunlight that day as large chunks of ice started to break off and wizing past me, destined for the valley below. After that followed a traditional visit to Cairngorm summit then a beer at the funicular station by the car park. Victory!

Strange hoar frost formations on the decent down to Ptarmigan Station. 

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