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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Deep snow and blue skies

A classic winters day with many skiers and climbers having fun in the Cairngorm mountains. The deep fresh snow that fell on Friday meant a fairly tiring walk in and a lot of digging on the climbing routes.
We changed our original plans due to the late start and our reluctance to break trail and headed up to Opening Break and Honeypot. A couple of young climbers had tried to get off the ground on Honeypot had given up and were now trying to get off the ground on Opening Break originaly a Grade 3...! We opted for Honeypot which was now free to avoid the wait at stances and the risk fom falling debris.
A lot of snow clearing on the second pitch but almost a metre underneath the snow the turf was frozen! Unfortunately as the cracks were quite icy the available protection was somewhat limited. When we reached the foot of the upper chimney we were engulfed in snow debris and small rocks as the other two climbers cut across above us from Opening Break to belay at the foot of our top pitch - what a cheek at least the French say Bonjour!
We got our own back as we finished up the top of Opening Break leaving the others to climb in the dark! The ski road was closed until about 9.30 am due to ice so the late start for many climbers meant being caught out in the December darkness at only 4.00 pm.

YouTube video Cairngorm Mixed Winter climbing on Honeypot
If you can't see the video above see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwI5ZV5gObg
Fi's blog has more pictures and details at http://www.marmotte.co.uk/blog/diary.html
Great pictures from the Loch Avon basin can be found on Will's blog at http://www.willwadventures.blogspot.com/ and picture from the ski mountaineers on Loch Avon can be seen at http://www.winterhighland.info/touring/index.php?50,1139
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