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Saturday, 21 March 2009

A day of three thirds and lots of climbing

A lovely calm frosty sunny morning until about 10.15 am, then milder, thick mist, rain and gusty winds until around 3.00 pm when it cleared, cooled and the sun came back out...!
This morning there was a frost in Aviemore but it was plus 3 Celcius on Cairngorm. At dawn the webcams showed a clear sky with very low humidity.
Despite the higher temperatures on Cairngorm with the low humidity the 'wet bulb' effect should be freezing up the snow pack. Also wet and windy weather was due to come in around mid-day before the skies cleared and temperatures dropped later on Saturday - these were the thoughts.
A quick check of the various weather forecasts and live weather stations early this morning and at around 7.00 am a plan was hatched - get out of bed, the crux of the day, travel fast and light, climb up and down as many of the winter routes as possible before the bad weather arrived - ten was good number to try for - Cairngorm's "Decology" ;-)
I arrived in the Coire Cas carpark at 8.00 am and had started up a lovely icy Runnel by 9.00 am. I then down climbed the ridge between Central and the Runnel then up Central RH then down Central LH to the foot of a lovely dry Pygmy Ridge.
A tricky start getting onto the classic rock ridge with crampons before taking them off to climb in big boots on the lovely rough dry rock to the top.
It was only just approaching 10.00 am so I put the crampons back on and headed over to a nice and icy Fiacaill Couloir via a traverse into half a gully (Point 5!). A team of three were heading up a very bare Invernookie on less than wintry conditions.
On topping out the weather had changed completely and visibility was very poor. The snow was softening fast too as I headed over to climb the Mirror.
A quick look at the Mirror Direct which is now broken I then headed up a patchy Mirror in zilch visibility. I couldn't see a thing so lost I followed my nose up a nice snow and ice groove which led to the col of a now wet Pygmy Ridge.
A quick bite and drink and then down Aladdin's Couloir before traversing across and up Jacob's 'step' Ladder - I actually had problems locating the Mess of Pottage crag and the gully due to poor visibility - and it's my back yard!
Back on the plateau it was wet and windy so I called it a day and headed back home to dry off and for a well earned bacon butty!
A day of contrasts with some excellent early morning winter and summer climbing conditions before the early arrival of the wet and windy weather.
Late afternoon and it's now bright and sunny! I've a few photos of the folk I spoke to this morning - please leave a message on the blog...
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